Oh Bright Coins, keeping Capitalism current

The Electrochemical Currency Exchange Company

Jonathon Keats, Managing Director of The Electrochemical Currency Exchange Company, has worked his way easily into regular ‘Wired’ coverage, the foyer of the Rockefeller Building in New York and most recently the murky depths of Far East currency exchange. His latest thought-experiment goes well beyond thinking and into the dark heart of banking. His data processing installation combines galvanic corrosion of the Chinese fen with newly minted Hong Kong cents and produces from their submergence in Coca Cola an electric current that runs through a circuit to do some primary arithmetic that might on reflection cause, like stale Coke, some usefully reflective burps. Is this a bright metaphor for the profound liquidity and auto-conservation of global exchange through capital? The press release alludes to electro-chemical ‘arbitrage’ a fine word deployed to describe his attempts to leverage a kind of meaning from the intersection of performance art and money. Security guards in HSBC’S Hong Kong HQ where Keats last performed the experiment in May were temporarily unsettled. Can a return to simple addition and subtraction be a subversive undertaking? Given the nauseating speed of global transactions, can the artist give back some weight to the matter of currency? Given the resilience and resistance of capital is this an experiment in difference or a difference experiment? Having written a book two years ago about the ways in which technological shifts coin new words, Keats plays here with a different kind of change. Adding to a growing genre of money-messing artworks, the work assumes value and leaves a powerful after-taste. It is a fluid work of stealth in the stagnant bowels of wealth.

Bronac Ferran