Blog Post
As I researched further into the Island venture, I became more and more interested in shaping Joshua Levine as a character, rather than a historical figure of some in-depth research. I wanted to propose him as a transrealist vehicle - setting off from recorded stories about him and onward into an imagined transrealist narrative. I wanted to make him into a character that could speak beyond the clichéd narration of an odd-one-out-genius doing something remarkable in an aesthetically interesting way (ie. all the stuff about him not wearing the right business suit and having life animals). I wanted to set his narrative free and use him to transport us way beyond the simple idea of high frequency trading as immensely fast. The new transrealist Josh would bring us into a more entangled being with the algorithmic and open up a new narrative where object and subject merge and where development turns into environment, and where the causality-angle of historicity is exchanged for the emotional experience of being within an environment, with a condition, in an atmosphere. This transformation work became a challenge, as I found Josh online - still posting, still doing small weird inventions in his garage. There were some ethical stirrings, but non that ever made me doubt my right to use him as character – for this is what he is, a character. But in all honesty I was getting a bit weary with him, finding his surroundings (the Island offices) to be much more interesting. That’s when I found a blog post that I, in my initial readings, had somehow overlooked. It was dated February 11th, 2018, and was titled 'Hand of God'. When I first saw it I couldn’t believe just how tongue-in-cheek and ripe for adaptation it was. The post started with an image of the Grace Building in Mid-Town Manhattan.

The post reads: 'Roller coaster meets skydiving meets white water rafting down the grand canyon. I’ve been dreaming of jumping off the top of the Grace Building since I was a little kid. It always seemed like the curve would catch me like the hand of god. I’d love to build a giant stainless steel parabolic curve. Really giant, like hundreds of feet tall. The curve would be vertical at the top, gently becoming horizontal by the bottom. It would “catch” you by directing your downward motion into forward motion. At the top you would be in free-fall, at the bottom you’d be on the fastest county fair slide ever. The joints of the panels would be stainless steel and lapped like roof shingles so there [would be] nothing you could get caught on. Everyone would wear a full coverage Tyvek suit and a motorcycle helmet so no part of you would ever touch the surface. Ideally, you would want to build this against the face of an existing cliff. It would be wide enough that lots of people could all use it at the same time (not narrow like a slide). At the top, you would run as fast as you wanted to, towards the edge… and jump off into oblivion. Besides the thrill of repeatedly jumping off a cliff without a parachute, I think this monumental gleaming mirrored curve in the middle of a landscape would be a thrilling spectacle just to look at!”

Four hyperlinks hides within Joshuas short quote. As if he was taking notes towards the completion of this outrageous suicide ramp: An image of the Grace Building, a Tyvek suit on sale for $14.94 on Amazon, a trekking site article about King’s Canyon in Watarrka National Park in Australia, and finally a jump-scare if there ever was one. Behind the word kid - in the kid that dreamt about jumping - a hyperlink leads to an image of a young boy posing in front of Ivan Chermayeff’s iconic sculpture forming a large red number nine. A sculpture placed in front of the Grace Building. In the top of the image a small caption reads: · APR · 75. Unlike the other links this image is not found publicly on the web. It is added by Joshua to his own blog. The URL bar in my browser reads: This might really be Joshua, as a kid. Posing infront of the Grace Building. Actually dreaming that dream of vertical descent; of sliding unnaturally down the glass and concrete surface like some caped crusader or animated cartoon critter. The creeping innocence of that kid posing, as a parent captures his boyish charm on film, builds up that before mentioned question of ethics. Whom was never ever a kid to begin with? What kid wouldn’t have exactly that idea; that it would obviously be great to slide down a streamlined curving building like that.

A 3D rendered sketch of the giant stainless steel parabolic curve is included in Joshua’s post. It’s expression is naive and amateurish. Like it was collaged together by that little boy posing in front of the number nine. A small inserted figure stands a top a large blue sloping 3D shape. A gradient tool attempts at the illusion of the vertical metal shading as it curves out into the horizontal. The blue shape is moulded onto a straight box surface covered with a texture pattern the dusty color of sand, uniform and repeating as floor vinyl. This cubic representation of the natural landscape resonates with the synthetic quality of the fantasy itself. This would be how Robert Smithson would have sketched his land-artwork 'Asphalt Run', had he owned an amateur 3D sketching software.

Suicide Slide
The suicide slide channel was initially thought as a direct sequel to the channel with the whistling stockbroker. Josh’s vision of the immense slide begged to be re-visualised. The vision itself had the audacity to propose a physical setup of the neoliberal mantra of the invisible hand of unregulated markets, cheekily offering it as a mirror-image to the suicide banker jumping off the roofs of skyscrapers. But what really made the decision fall into place was the clunky visualisation of said vision, done by Josh himself. It was clear to me that my re-visualisation had to take a kind of dead-pan approach to his vision and his visualisation hereof. The slide was constructed in a 3D software, fitted to augment the reality of a filmed high-rise scene. Together with the animator it was decided that the slide should have a sort of add-on quality to the recording of the high-rise and in this way stand out cartoonishly present in the landscape. As Josh wrote: It would be a thrilling spectacle just to look at! We decided to keep the blue colour scheme of Josh’s sketch, but develop the slide to live more up to his original description. Another reason to keep the blue curve was of course also how it undeniably resembles a downturning curve on a balance sheet (the blue color only camouflaging the crisis that the dropping curve represents). The overlaying shingles were added to the structure and a (virtual) material was chosen that would reflect its surroundings making the simplistic add-on, waver between a completely foreign element attached to the building (and the High Definition video recording) and a structure strangely immersed into, and augmenting, the landscape. We worked towards a result where the slide would visually connect with its surroundings, while at the same time appear ridiculously foreign.

The Brown Tower
The landscape, of this sequel to the scene playing out in NYC, is far removed from its original Manhattan context. This was not initially the case. The shoot of the broker on the high-rise roof was planned to take place in New York City. But due to COVID-19 it was not possible to return to America to film the scene. As the outlook to borders opening up grew more and more distant, I decided to make the recordings in a landscape that would relate directly to the context of Kunsthall 3,14, instead. The scene was now planned to play out on Fløyen, a mountain range towering above the city of Bergen. When a visitor of Kunsthall 3,14 would exit the building, the sloping mountain side would be there, unavoidably on the horizon. The narrative of the suicide broker, would have been transported to the two storey (bank) building of Kunsthall 3,14, and hence the mountain plateau would be the only place high enough for the suicide/thrill ride to be possible. And Josh had already considered that the face of an existing cliff would be the perfect place for this parabolic curve. This shoot in Bergen, was unfortunately also made impossible, once again due to COVID-19, since I myself was stuck in Copenhagen at the moment. So a final decision was made to bring the scene 'back home' and situate it around a newly developed high-rise in the midst of the area called Nord Vest in Copenhagen. A high-rise nicknamed 'The Brown Tower'. A high-rise that if anything really is an unavoidable beacon of the ongoing and escalating gentrification of this neighbourhood. The obstacles around this production, somewhat shows that the meandering approach is not always voluntary. A very specific visuality is forced into a completely other. A truly iconic landscape (Manhattan skyline) is transposed with a more locally appreciated, or viewed from outside more generic. But the practice of meandering is also building up a readying mechanism, making decisions evolve in an open-ended space that is ready for transformation. Openness towards changing circumstances, loosing control, letting narratives deform and mutate. That 'The Brown Tower' stands alone, in the landscape, as sole skyscraper, enables a completely different visuality than had it been squeezed in between so many others. The whole notion of the mathematical/statistical curve towering above an area deeply submerged in the suffocating soup of gentrification would in the initial setup never have surfaced.

Drone Shot
The culminating drone shots of the towering slide, are envisioned as forming a transformation in the contextualisation of the work in relation to its production value. The more direct and simplistic blocking of the staircase recordings, as the broker makes his way to the roof,  is suddenly taken over by an impossible shot. The camera lifts, travels sky high and displays the slide in all its ludicrous grandeur. I was searching for a certain comical moment, a comic relief, to all the brooding sequences of Cable ITCH. With the semicircular drone shot hovering ambitiously around the sloping slide, twinkling in the sunlight, stretching into and through the surrounding houses, I tried to construct something epic, that would never content-wise live up to its claim. A funny, unrealistic and outright preposterous proposal, elevated to the prolific and godlike. Much like neoliberal ideology and economy.