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Ornament and Crisis

  • Smart Contract NFT and 14 Framed Prints
  • Edition of 2 with 4 1/1 NFTs each

ORNAMENT AND CRISIS presents an alternative and provocative history of financial crises at one of the world’s oldest monetary institutions. Influenced directly by the contemporary moment, the work takes its starting point from the recent 24/7 media coverage of the 2023 global banking panic to bring in a museological style this challenging “hidden” history of monetary crises to the French national museum.

Using specially made LiDAR scans of the building, the works’ hijack the architecture of the Monnaie de Paris to recast the neo-classical solidity of the building as one that is instead see-through and unstable. Playing with ideas surrounding the facade, the labyrinth and the parable of Narcissus, the institutional architecture of the Monnaie de Paris is seen through a lens of Adolf Loo’s ‘Ornament and Crime’; a seminal modernist rallying cry against ornament in architecture in favour for the clean function of modernism. This commentary on the nature of centralized value production and its use of both ornament and facade is set philosophically against the open-source minimalism of new crypto networks, reliant not on ornament but the simplicity of mathematics.

Alice takes the 3D scans of the building, before remaking them into speculative stages for this alternative history to be played out. Elements of the architecture are spotlight, isolated and remade into ghostly and unsettling stage sets.

Crises are reduced down to just their date and their emotional typology. From ‘PANIC’ to ‘DEPRESSION’ to ‘BLACK’ and across a variety of languages from Egyptian hieroglpyhs to Gujarati, keywords are isolated to create heightened sense of the human and emotional psychology of crises. Together the 200 crises and their varying terms creates a kind etymological fingerprint that focuses on the poetic nature of repetition and  rhythm through our global history.

Each work is pairing between a 3D environment, explorable in VR and a physical, museological artifact. From steganographic lightboxes with hidden texts to engraved vitrines, this hidden history is played out in an unsettling and encrypted atmosphere where the boundaries between truth and reality are blurred.  

Researched in collaboration with AI systems, the history of financial crises from 323 BC to 2023 that sits at the heart of this project creates an unreliable narrator where post-truth narratives are blurred in a typically Borgesian style. Without reference, we are a left to ask what is fact, and what is an AI hallucination and in turn further unsettling the viewer.

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