Stream (Sichuan) 2018

Stream (Sichuan) 2018 responds to a dynamic of value and exchange between the landscape and the new speculative post national cryptocurrency known as bitcoin. Specifically by addressing a major bitcoin mining zone in Sichuan, China. This environment relies on hydro electric power to produce electricity and by extension crypto currencies. The new work looks to the monolithic interiors of bit 'mines' as 'productive' simulated portraits in one component, whilst simultaneously addressing the source of their power in the local water stream as another portrait. A physical stream (of water) through sophisticated computing power becomes a new form of value, a bitcoin. The art piece is made up of two distinct inter-related software elements produced and powered by a pair of powerful PCs rig located in sculpture of the work.

Stream (Sichuan) 2018 as a sculpture entails two distinct physical artistic elements:

In the the exhibition space a visual simulation of the river flow is presented as a rear projection in a sculptural object. The invisible PC produces an image of its own power source.

Alongside this is another sculpture showing a representation of a classic bitcoin 'mining rig' used globally to produce cryptocurrency. Made up of multiple working machines upon sculptural shelves (as in reality) the rig – which is represented using a camera slowing tracking the shelves – at the same pace as the river flow - also suggests its work through the turning of fans and blinking of LED. This fictitious rig is installed in a portrait of a real factory space – an abandoned military site - captured near Chengdu using 3D scanning + photogrammetry. There is an element of fiction in this second section as earlier this year (due to excessive electricity usage) bitmining in China was banned. Thus all miners have gone underground and I was denied access to sites. I invented my own (virtual) bitmine using the appropriate components to complete this work. The river however is real and exists.

Stream was originally­­­­ commissioned by Long March Space in Beijing for inclusion in their long running research driven exhibition series titled “Building Code Violations”, whose previous two iterations took place at Long March Space in 2006 and 2008.


Artwork Producer: Werner Poetzelberger
Programmer: Helmut Bressler
3D Modeler: Max Loegler
Installation Development: Jakob Illera / Inseq, Vienna
Game Engine: Unigine

Exhibitions

Stream (Sichuan) 2018 at Long March Project: Building Code Violations III, 2018

“Long March Project: Building Code Violations III” is the latest installment of the exhibition series, “Building Code Violations”, whose previous two iterations took place at Long March Space in 2006 and 2008. The exhibition takes the improvisational nature of building violations as a metaphorical point of departure and assembles works that employ a variety of visual production methods to probe the political, social, economic and cultural realities today.

In the exhibition’s context, “Building Code Violations” isn’t much refer to a particular mode of architecture; instead, it is used as an umbrella term for the myriad forms of life that involve developing unconventional strategies to adjust to the evolving social conditions. While these spontaneous an architectures may be conceived as makeshift solutions to crises, the socioeconomic demand for flexibility and de-territorialization in our post-planning era has, rather curiously, given rise to a new norm marked by ubiquitous and complex types of violations. At the core of the exhibition series is a proposition that, building code violations, which have hitherto been considered unorthodox, and formal building standards, which are generally regarded as commonplace, should be understood in reverse terms today.

We suggest that the abovementioned form of “permanent unorthodoxy” is also what underlies the acceleration of technologies and capital flows in post-reform China, the paradigm case being the development of the special economic zones.

Besides ushering in a paradigm shift in national economy, ideology, and ontology, the economic reform is also almost unanimously regarded as the starting point of Chinese contemporary art. Meanwhile, the resulting categorical changes in China’s technological development, capital flows, as well as its peculiar temporality, are rarely reflected in epistemological terms in contemporary art practices. In this grand disequilibrium, the exhibition organizes original works by 14 artists and collectives to speculate on the historical sensorium of the reform. These immersive works strive to either trace China’s brief history of acceleration from a historical or speculative standpoint, or reevaluate the epistemic significance of the reform, giving recognizable shape to this abstract force.

John Gerrard’s phantom camera juxtaposes the crypto-current with the material current that powers it.

Research

2018 · STREAM (SICHUAN) 2018 / LONG MARCH PROJECT: BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS III
Photograph: Long March Space
2018 · STREAM (SICHUAN) 2018 / LONG MARCH PROJECT: BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS III
Photograph: Long March Space
2018 · STREAM (SICHUAN) 2018 / LONG MARCH PROJECT: BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS III
Photograph: Long March Space
2018 · STREAM (SICHUAN) 2018 / LONG MARCH PROJECT: BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS III
Photograph: Long March Space
2018 · STREAM (SICHUAN) 2018 / LONG MARCH PROJECT: BUILDING CODE VIOLATIONS III
Photograph: Long March Space
A major bitmine utilising a historic factory interior (China)
Hydro electric plant; Photograph by the artist
A standard single bitcoin mine (Bitmain company)
Exmilitary factory in Sichuan Province; Photograph by the artist
Artist research in Sichuan Province

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