A Photograph of Joshua
I tried to enter the office building on 50 Broad St., but had no luck getting past the front door porter. I managed to find a blue print and some images of one of the building’s office floors; the space having been recently up for lease. As I clicked through these real estate advertisement images of emptied out generic office spaces, I had a notion of history erased. The feeling of returning to a site of an unspeakable crime only to find all traces of such a vile act ever taking place, eerily erased. Here is where the terminals were! And here they had the turtles! I swear, there was a pile of blood right here! The dry 'click' of the trackpad button echoed the dryness of every frame as it opened up. I tried to pair them with the measurement data of the floor plan, to get at a virtual feeling of the space. This was all I had to work with, since there aren’t really any photo documentation of the Island offices. No camera phones, back then. No capturing and posting absolutely everything. I did find a single image of Joshua Levine sitting in his office chair in the middle of the despairing office milieu: He sits centre image. Reclining in his office chair; head thrown back. His head now somehow hovering just above a waste bin that stands alone in the middle of the floor. All the trash strewn around it, of course. He looks into the lens. His face is boyish. He’s wearing a grey sweatshirt. A college name on the front? Blowing up the bad resolution image, provided no new information. Just scale in the distribution of coloured specks. Joshua is wearing shorts, white tennis socks and sneakers. Every time I open this image window, I try to read his face. Is he content? Feeling at home? Tranquil? Or caught, in that moment, in the centre of it all, not knowing really how he got there or where this whole thing is going? How a small boy would look in a family picture; dark family secrets abound. In the background the terminals can be seen. A silhouette of a person sitting at one of the terminals. The whole image screams nothing going on here. No wonder no one took the time to document this place.

Trial and Error
The lack of source material, part from this one image and the few written accounts of the messy environment collected in Scott Patterson’s book, made me ultimately decide to recreate the office spaces as I imagined them. A 3D environment was built up around these written accounts, using the blueprints of the office floors, and a lot of research on nineties product designs. The space was pieced together in collaboration with CGI animator Laurence Kirk Weedy, working from London.

Laurence and I, have a long history of working together, but we have never met in real life or on camera for that matter. Our collaboration takes place exclusively online, through written correspondences. It happened coincidentally that our first few meetings on video got cancelled and at a point we decided that meeting face to face might jinx something that really worked. Far from being a trivial side-note, this online working relationship speaks directly to that idea of working with deliberate misunderstandings, ceremonial arrangements and blind trust in what may potentially occur, that generally runs through my artistic practice. The communication back and forth between us, takes the form of a certain trial and error process. The work is moulded into place by a collective understanding and visualisation, built not only on the excessive mood boards of referential material, the screen tests and long notes sessions, but really also on a somewhat personal exchange about where those images and concepts might arise from. In this case Laurence’s personal experience of working in the hellish environment of trading offices was naturally brought in. As he describes it: “The entrance lobby was so high you couldn't see the ceiling, but the trading rooms were squalid; screens and shit.” In our endless scrolls of email correspondence, a recurrent theme seems to be the conveying of a certain feel, an atmosphere. Certain frustration can be registered here, of not simply being able to produce a one-to-one visualisation, representing that specifically desired mood. But in the (mis)communication towards this aim, the atmosphere alters and moves from a subjectively closed idea about a certain sensation, to a more common gesture towards how moods, feelings and atmospheres are experienced and passed on.

Virtual Revisiting
The office spaces are in a certain way revisited from the rocking POV of Joshua’s pet iguana. A revisiting of this place that is purely virtual; completely dreamt up and assembled by data code; a compile of visual signifiers of time and environment. This process followed a rather classical work method in contemporary art: The finding of a significant place (in the world and in time) and an aesthetic coverage of this place – often together with the input of a second source; a written document narrated by a voice actor or a performer doing something within the place. This method shares traits with the reenactment of a historical occurrence. Here the perspective on said occurrence, or event, is key to the critical potential of the reenactment art work. A new perspective (say that of the people’s) enabling a space for the creation of counter-memory – a new narrative offered; one that contests the authoritative histories written by pen-wielding blood soaked hands of white men. In 'Cable ITCH (I don’t wanna work at Island no more)' a significant place in the world and in time is revisited indeed. But the offices, and the time they are depicted in, is a pure construct, built from the ground up in minuscule virtual building blocks. There is no place, just a horrendous reimagining of an environment and a number of signifying objects speaking to a time period. It is a transrealist visualisation of the place and the state that it is left in. As reenactment, the virtual camera performing iguana POV, most certainly explores the setting from a new perspective. I decided to use the POV of the Iguana, not only to offer a certain non-human view and frame of reference, but also simply to allow for this landscape to be experienced from a different angle – the angle of the trash. All the waste scattered around the floor – the disorder that paints such a contrast to the orderly images we have of the systems of money transactions and the realm of coding – casts a gaze back up on the elevated mountainous work stations. With this choice I sought to prompt a look awry onto the structuring forces of the finance economy, for the viewer to inhabit. The iguana POV, together with the piling trash, is intended to form a common visual portal into a realm exclusively for the in-the-knows. It creates a weird normal, introduced into the pristine logic; into that which is too complicated to fully explain, and hence must be revered as a immaculate system that must be barred from messy human interference.

2061 Inmoral Lidos
This same question of how one form a sensible portal into the obtuse realm of modern finance and the extreme frequencies of movement and transactions, seems to be the fuel behind the book project ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ that was presented by Synsmaskinen in 2017. Synsmaskinen is a collaborative artistic research project run out of the Institute of Art at the University of Bergen, that through a variety of interrelated artistic projects, proposes inquiries into contemporary crises, bringing into focus politically-charged horizons of ’apocalyptic abysses, systemic entanglements, and hyper-complex realities.’ (synsmaskinen.net) In ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ this focus is on the landscape of dark pools that form large parts of high frequency trading and that in their opaqueness and secretive activity renders any knowledge into their actual being almost impossible. As the conclusion to a year-long artistic investigation of this phenomenon and its principal inaccessibility ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ proposes a series of fantastic fictions as an attempt to penetrate these opaque pools. Through the format of speculative fiction portals are created, not to reveal what may go on in these dark pools, but rather highlight the forms of shadows that their existence might cast on our surroundings. Using speculative writing or weird fiction to linguistically engage with a field that exists in a language non-adoptable to the uninitiated, proves a methodology that enables new meaning to be extracted out of the socio-political reality of dark pool trading. As artistic research ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ becomes a collection of fictive writing (reminiscent to what I call transrealist field notes) that together attempt a framing of the unframeable and the making accessible of something inaccessible. What they produce is not analysis or questions answered, but rather a framework for questions to arise. In this sense ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ relates quite directly to the artistic research endeavour of Oceanic Horror and the way in which a subject of research is approached. Through the written language, the poetry of ‘2061 Inmoral Lidos’ attempt at conjuring up images that in their sensuality and sensibility could create a counter-image to the bouncing surface of the dark pool, a light shone from the side, enabled in the imaginary of a potential reader. Oceanic Horror similarly seeks the opening up of an experiential language that can counter authoritative impenetrable narratives, but this venture sets off from the actual images that these pools already send back as reflection - the devices and suits, the cables and flashing numbers - bounce-images; a visual narrative that functions as impenetrable surface. Bringing these images of pristine authority together with the images they are there to cover over - the trash, the squalid office environments, the substance abuse and the immense horror of existing inside such a carnivorous system - proposes new openings for experiential reading. The recognisable as one thing, is distorted in this imagery to appear as something uncannily different. Most of all, the mess that the human being introduces into the pristine image of algorithmic logic is highlighted. Contaminated by existence the digital realm is spoiled and certain revelations may hide in the spoilage.

No Humans in the Code
In the uncontaminated realm of the binary code, all the trash speaks to this messy human interference. With the chunks of chocolate bars, the tilted trash bins, the crushed soda cans; comes the smell of periodontitis saliva, the violent puking of overworked nervous systems and the adrenalin sweat pouring off the hand that did the crushing; the hint of something corporeal. But the way that the office spaces in 'Cable ITCH' speak to the corporeal is really in its complete exclusion. I decided that there would be no bodies in the space, only the remainders of bodily activity, traces of human agents. Where all the trash may constitute a weird contribution to the logic of the space, the fact that no humans are present is intended to evoke a sense of the eerie. I wanted to evoke a bodily experience, but this through a constant referring to the absent body.

The Weird and the Eerie
In 'The Weird and the Eerie' (2017), Mark Fisher looks for ways to categorises the weird from the eerie, in order to differentiate between othering experiences (politically and socially) that we may experience in our daily lives. He points out that the eerie is ‘constituted by a failure of absence or by a failure of presence, […] when there is something present where there should be nothing, or there is nothing present when there should be something’. (2017) The weird on the other hand ‘involves a sensation of wrongness’ (2017) and is ‘marked by an exorbitant presence, a teeming which exceeds our capacity to represent it’. (2017) For me, the weird now headlines the entanglement or extimacy discourse – things existing together in a manner ‘so strange that it makes us feel that it should not exist’. (Fisher, 2017) The immigration crises letting human beings occupy uninhabitable border territories and liminal spaces also suggest the weird – a condition so unthinkable that if it ‘is here, then the categories which we have up until now used to make sense of the world cannot be valid’. (Fisher, 2017) And finally, the accumulating trash on the floor of the powerhouse of a new electronic era, clear of the filth of human desires, also constitutes the ‘presence of that which does not belong.’  (Fisher, 2017) The environment teeming with human activity yet void of any humans is on the other hand eerie of nature. The eerie is concerned with the difficulty of defining agency; ‘in the case of the failure of absence, the question concerns the existence of agency as such’. (Fisher, 2017) The city center at night, unoccupied, all the pop-up shops closed down, nobody inhabiting the city, safe from parasitical short lease visitors of the carved out host body, belongs to the eerie as well; so does the sensation of a phantom buzz from an iOS device in the pocket; so does the foreclosed neighbourhoods and the financial district, void of human traders. ‘The eerie necessarily involves forms of speculation […] Such speculations are intrinsic to the eerie, and once the questions and enigmas are resolved, the eerie immediately dissipates. The eerie concerns the unknown; when knowledge is achieved, the eerie disappears’. (Fisher, 2017) It is also in the category of the eerie, that I’ll file the scorched stretch of land where a forest used to stand. Eeriness is often wrought from capitalist speculation, just like capital itself ‘is at every level an eerie entity: conjured out of nothing, capital nevertheless exerts more influence than any allegedly substantial entity.’ (Fisher, 2017)

Landscapes of Accumulating Trash
The heaps of trash on the trading floor, do speak to the earth-destroying havoc that accumulation leaves behind. The harvesting machine, as Elizabeth A. Povinelli has dubbed it, extracting only to return and extract anew, leaves the territory eerily void, not only landmass pillaged but indeed also its geontology - its life-earth-relationship and practices. Povinelli writes: ‘Accumulation has less the look of a precisely rendered logic and more of a harvesting machine worthy of science fiction: a massive earth-destroying Death Star ripping and gutting a million worlds and then returning to re-ravage them as many times as it can find new forms of extracting profit from existence[.] The wheels of the machine do not go forward, they go backward, side-to-side, and around-and-around.' (2019) As capitalism harvests and re-harvests, depleting resources, it spits out all its exhaust material out the other end. The landscapes of trash that surrounds the workings of the financial market is a fitting image indeed – as pizza boxes and soda cans littering the trading offices, as dumpsites roamed by children spotting for reusable material, as ocean plastic garbage patches the size of Texas, as the 11 million gallons oil spill of Exxon Valdez, as chemicals pouring through rivers and bloodstreams.