Christa Sommerer (Austria) + Laurent Mignonneau (France)
Jonathan Monaghan (USA)
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori (Italy)
Byron Peters (Canada)
Daniel McKewen (Australia)
Currency can be understood as both a system of exchange (for example money or fashion) as well as a way of being current in the world. If something ‘has currency’ we understand that it has become relevant and has acquired a certain consensus of value. Eight artists from around the world consider multiple narratives and symbolism that have built up around currency and value in a rapidly changing world of technology.
These artists measure, critique and interpret the value of such things as attention, human communication, historic events, decision-making, manufactured design, corporate symbols, historic art, landscapes, luxury goods, real estate, economies of exchange, as well as considering more ephemeral notions of value. In technological terms, the works function through the use of artificial intelligence, internet streaming, diagnostic gas chromatography, block chain, banking systems as well as evoking ancient systems and narratives related to currency and value.
The use of cutting-edge technology and processes, combined with an ability to distill complex data, information and symbolic systems, results in eight powerful, richly metaphoric works that reflect the volatile meaning of currency and value in a technological world.
Christa Sommerer + Laurent Mignonneau (Austria + France). The Value of Art (Cat) 2010. The Value of Art (Lady), 2010
The Value of Art links the economy and value of art with the economy and value of attention. It is an interactive work, that requires involvement from the viewer to increase it’s value. Two historic paintings; a traditional cat portrait and the portrait of a lady have been outfitted with technology that tracks the number and length of time a viewer looks at each painting. Every 10 seconds from a viewer adds one euro to the value of the painting. The ever-increasing value is then printed out on a scrolling paper receipt.
Fabbio Lattanzi Antinori (Italy) Flashcrash, a perfume (2017)
Smell is a language that has the power to reflect socio-political issues. On 6 May, 2010, the largest flashcrash to date, hit the U.S. financial market, burning through a trillion dollars in 36 minutes then rebounding. It has been described as one of the most turbulent periods in the history of financial markets. Housed under a glass dome is a scent created by the artist that reflects this 36 minute event. The scent was created by analysing data from the flashcrash through a gas chromatography process. GC is used extensively in forensic science to detect criminal evidence; separating, analysing, quantifying and identifying volatile components of any mixture. Here the ethereal quality of the scent echoes the volatile spikes and financial anomalies of May 6, 2010.
LarbitsSisters (Belgium) Bitsoil POPup Tax and Hack Campaign (2018)
2.5 trillion bites of data are produced daily. Every post generates data that can be sold. This digital resource (termed bitsoil by the LarbitsSisters) is usually given freely or unintentionally. The data is then sold by large companies resulting in billions of profit in the hands of a few and little attempt to provide social equity. Digital curriencies are like bitcoin are gaining in value. This internet installation uses troops of bots that comb through Twitter accounts for keywords: apple, assets, benefit, common, data, cash, cost, data economy etc. When the word is found, the Twitter user is contacted and invited to join the campaign. The user can create and launch their own bots, send a digital postcard from BitREPUBLIC to a CEO of one of the top 10 high-tech companies or the primeminister of the user’s country of choice. Each action generates new data (bitsoil) and the resulting profit is divided up transparently among the participants.
Jonathan Monaghan (USA) Out of the Abyss (2018)
Out of the Abyss is a 3-channel triptych combining a single tracking shot combining baroque dreamlike imagery and symbols of modern consumerism and financial systems with iconic Apocalyptic narratives. Visually extravagant the work re-imagines historic elements such as the seven-eyed lamb and the four horsemen as terrifying beasts relevant to present day anxieties adorned with security cameras riot gear and consumer electronics. The glossy surface qualities are reminiscent of pop art or commercial consumer products resulting in an uncanny familiarity.
Byron Peters (Canada) Untitled (2013)
The artist worked with an architectural firm located in Shenzhen, China, specializing in digital visualizations of new luxury homes and condominiums for the North American market. Following a lengthy period of discussions, rather than commissioning a model for upscale housing, the artist requested an architectural rendering of the sky directly above the firm’s building. In exchange, the firm requested a payment it deemed to be of equal value to the monetary cost: 50 Facebook ‘likes’. The result of this trans-pacific business transaction is not a photograph but a virtual approximation of an atmosphere with billowing clouds.
Daniel McKewen (Australia)
Animal Spirits is a four-channel video portrait of key personalities involved in the 2010 Global Financial Crisis. The installation displays twelve international figures discussing free-market economic theory. The work manipulates sound and language in an endless loop. McKewen explores the conventional narratives of power dynamics. Animal Spirits was a term coined by British economist, John Maynard Keynes, to describe how people arrive at financial decisions, including the practice of buying and selling securities at times of economic stress or uncertainty.