Black Shoals; Dark Matter
“Black Shoals; Dark Matter” is an art-based enquiry into the aesthetics of financial data and how it manifests a relationship with power. It explores the changing relationships between capitalism, nature and technology, and the ways in which aesthetics of data reflect and influence these cultural shifts. The project was commissioned by Somerset House Trust and ArtScience Museum Singapore in 2015 as a reimagining of a previous project - ”Black Shoals” - to incorporate and comment on the changes in the world in the intervening 15 years since the first project.
“Black Shoals; Stock Market Planetarium” was a data visualisation developed by Autogena and Portway in 1999 that depicted the global stock markets in the form of a planetarium. A stock trade occurring on any of the world’s major markets is reflected in a brief brightening of the corresponding star in the planetarium. The light generated by these trades provided food for an ecology of artificial life creatures that lived among the stars.
The new project focusses on tracing the hidden interconnections in the flows of money and power. During the course of the exhibition the stars slowly drift and form constellations and clusters as they are gravitationally attracted to, or repelled from, each other by these invisible forces. The updated project attempts to discover the invisible forces, or dark matter, that holds these constellations of stars together. The system calculates gravitational forces by continually ingesting news feeds, company databases, trading histories etc.
It uses this information to extract connections between companies - for instance, which share company directors trade with each other, which companies are often mentioned together in news articles etc. The information gathered during this process is also visualised on a screen within the gallery where the user can investigate and follow links between companies.
This collection of images displays the outputs from this project. Find out more details in the full case study below.
The ambition for the development of Black Shoals; Dark Matter was to simultaneously monitor every regularly traded stock in the world.