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plastic trade-off

Meta-performative Game in Real Time
Intervention into Global Financial Markets and Exchanges

the project by Sylvia Eckermann + Gerald Nestler is a permanent installation at:
WORKING_WORLD.NET Living and working in the midst of globalization, Museum Arbeitswelt Steyr, A

since 2006


plastic trade-off is a light sculpture as well as a virtual knowledge space. It visualizes global financial markets and thus a core element of global economy. The real-time data of specific markets are translated into abstract light flows which reflect this global system in a dynamic work of art.



credits & support

Lichttechnik: LDDE Vertriebs GmbH /
Technische Assistenz: Thomas Sandri Technik für Kunstwerke /
Schnittstellenprogrammierung: Matthias Strohmaier /
Wissenschaftliche Texte zum Thema Börse: Beat Weber
Börsenkurse zur Verfügung gestellt von der TeleTrader Software AG /
Foto-Credits: © Museum Arbeitswelt Steyr
Fotos: Walter Luttenberger /

The Exhibition continues till 2011

Museum Arbeitswelt Steyr /
Wehrgrabengasse 7, 4400 Steyr

 Projektbeschreibung in Deutsch



plastic trade-off
is a light sculpture as well as a virtual knowledge space. It visualizes global financial markets and thus a core element of global economy. plastic trade-off could be described as a visual approach to the oscillating growth of markets and their diverse connections and dependences. The project traces the social life of the (im)material values of trading. The real-time data of specific markets are translated into abstract light flows which reflect this global system in a dynamic work of art. The coordinates of selected places of the market system were marked on a globe and connected as regards fundamental markets. Thus a 3-dimensional and spatial framework emerged – the structure of the sculpture. The sculpture radiates light that visualizes of one of the most influential and controversial systems of our times: the global financial markets. A virtual knowledge space invites the visitors to access diverse and varied information about global financial markets and exchanges..




Size: 370 x 400 x 380 cm, Weight: approx. 60kg, 7 light strings composed of 1500 LEDs in different colours, mounted inside Plexiglas discs
4 light strings with flashing lights running in both directions with variable speeds
2 light strings, pulsating, 1 with variable speed, 1 light string, static light
Structure and data/power lines (4mm insulated copper wire) are identical. No other framework required. Suspended and fixed with steel wire.

Real-time market data are imported from the internet through the API (Application Programming Interface) of a market data provider into a customised programme which analyses the data according to market affiliation and movement. The market data movements are assigned to scales of values corresponding to the markets/light strings. These constantly updated values are transported to DMX software that assigns speed and direction. Via DMX boxes the data are transported to the corresponding light strings.






“How does an emblematic installation emerge as an “appearance” of the worldwide system of global financial markets that exceeds the purely representative and confronts the topic in a discursive mode?”

When designing a concept for an art work that focuses on global financial markets, one faces complex questions on a variety of topics including economic, social, political, cultural and of an artistic nature. Amongst other things they pertain to the economic system as a paradigmatic implementation of media-technological financial markets, to global distributions, social changes and developments enacted through the liquefaction and the claims to power by the capital, to the dissolution of proximity and distance in the virtual space of trading (which rarely finds an equivalent ‘on site’), to current colonialisms, and to liberating the facets that offer new possibilities and opportunities to these complex questions. Last but not least is the question of the artistic approach taken in the realization of such a project.

plastic trade-off can be described as a “Tableau vivant-artificiel”, alive like a cyborg, artificial like a city. It resembles a living organism or rather a colony of living organisms which move, exchange, reproduce and manifest themselves. It oscillates in-between informations, transformations, institutions and cyberspace.
As a semi-transparent cluster-fetish it creates in flashing simulation a social system of communication, a virtual medium of specific values and thus a critical “moneyfesto” of the markets.

plastic trade-off attempts a visual convergence with the “oscillating growth” of a financial market that functions within diverse contexts and dependencies. It traces the social life of the (im)material values in real-time. At the centre there are not single markets but a global entity whose history pervades through all of modernity and whose net is constantly expanding, refined and virtualised.

The artwork does not stop at pure representation; it is not metaphoric and does not show a “Gegenwelt” (counter-world): it exposes global financial markets themselves, displays them as a medium. Gerald Nestler




Doris Rothauer: plastic trade-off

Catalogue text: working–, Museum Arbeitswelt Steyr


Sylvia Eckermann's main focus is the creation of experimental, interactive media environments. The viewers might experience these in the physical space as well as in virtual worlds. Gerald Nestler ranks among those artists who move pointedly in the context of economy, observing, analyzing and questioning economic structures and strategies. The goal of his work is to show economy as a leading paradigm of our time in its relationship to other social and public domains. In his video portrait series "CEOs" for instance, he questions prominent managers in front the camera. In this project he works out a subtly differentiated analysis of the self-perceptions and -representations of executives as well as their perception of social domains. He went even further in his interest in financial markets when he worked as a broker and trader for two years. He translated his artistic involvement that grew out of this inside experience and knowledge for the first time into the audio-visual installation "sexy curves", which confronted and compared real-time market movements and electro-cardiograms.

For "" Gerald Nestler and Sylvia Eckermann in cooperation with Beat Weber realized a new space on the topic of global financial markets. The complex, interactive and dynamic installation renders the views of both artists as well as a scientifically sound debate on the currently relevant market events.
At the centre is a "sculpture", transparent and shining that depicts the network of global financial markets—this is, the place of action with links dispersed around the globe—in a three-dimensional shape. The kinetic changes of the light elements inside the transparent "arteries"/veins of the sculpture correspond to real-time codes of the market events and their data streams. Constantly generating aesthetic forms, which feed from real data, the installation shows markets as a virtual and infinite medium of values as well as a social system: real objects and transactions are deconstructed to ever new tradable, utilisable (virtualities) that react upon reality and so exert their influence on the lives of people and on societies. Basically intended and legitimated on democratic lines, markets convey the feeling of controllability on the one hand; on the other hand the system equates to a medium whose existence itself is already fundamental to the variability of information. Included in the sculpture is a ticker that continuously displays the mantra: "…youbuywhatyousellwhat…"

Another essential part of the installation is a virtual knowledge space based on a computer game that provides texts and graphics on the players involved in the market, on market functionalities and on current socio-political discourses that look into the subject. The visitor moves through a virtual market place and experiences comprehensibly the highly complex functionalities of the markets by simple mouse navigation.