Quasi Things* are data-driven furniture objects giving sculptural form to financial currency. Presented as manufactured-on-demand products in a virtual showroom, each object juxtaposes historic data points in a time series, ranging from the gold standard Nixon shock of 1971, the Flash Crash of 2010, to the hack of the Ethereum cryptocurrency in 2016. Each object epitomizes a particular stage in the means of exchange—shifting from things in the world (gold) to fiat money (centrally declared), to cryptocurrency (decentralized blockchain).
Quasi Things bring a figure-ground relation to abstract notions of valuation at human scale. Destined for the lounges and lobbies of board rooms and financial services—and available for domestic spaces with assembly instructions—the furniture is designed as conversation backdrop and platform for individuals to literally sit on, upon, and through volatile futures to come. Key for Quasi Things is to usher symbolic form in a space lacking traces, where an indexical relationships with the larger phenomenon is by design virtually impossible—inaccessible (dark pools), insufficient (FINRA), or imperceptible (HFT circuit breakers).
Quasi Things don’t explain or resolve the shortcomings of diagrams and inscriptions claiming objectivity of causality. The concurrent time series used to generate more ore less comfortable seating arrangements, are juxtapositions in a sculptural space—with product names that invite interpretation and assembly instructions that facilitate a closer read. The virtual showroom hosted at slowdata.info allows customization within the given constraints. Viewers can preview one-, two-, and three-seat arrangements and change the objects for example by looking at date keys that double as arm rests and physical support for the physical object.
*Quasi Things was inspired by Bruno Latour’s quasi-objects notion of nature-culture dichotomies.
Exhibited at Interspace – artistic and design perspectives on virtual reality, Ringel Gallery, Purdue University, IN, curated by Shannon McMullen and Fabian Winkler