Line Paintings, Derivatives and Complexity

Op art painting from 2002

This is an optical painting I did in 2002. From about 1998 my notebook doodles started becoming more complex and in 2001 and 2002, I took the images to canvas and gradually moved up in scale. The work above is 90 x 120 cm.

Here is a a scan from a 1999 notebook (drawing size = 14 x 9 cm) :

notebook drawing 1999

In 2009/10 I made more of these works and up-scaled again, the following painting is 162 x 130 cm

Op line painting 2009

At these scales the works dissolve the rational sense of pictorial structure and initiate an active eye where focus and perspective are difficult and confusing, as the painting seems to expand its formal space and then fragment across the wall, persisting as a constantly moving after-image, a writhing sensuality. I’d like to think of these works as somehow analogous to my previous post about the tendency towards complexity in the financial markets and the confusion of comprehension: as complexity is increased our ability to comprehend relationships diminishes. Although in art, this movement is positive and generous in that new possibilities and perspectives are generated, this is the meta project of art. We could hardly say that about complex financial instruments, whose real world value was very quickly outstripped by their usefulness for speculation, they have been employed as a smokescreen for criminality and to further the eternal project of the concentration of wealth.

Street Justice for Banksters

death dollar dealers lay in wait for the CEO & CFO of Bank of Satan

The idea of justice is abstract, theoretical and non-applicable when it comes to contemporary financial crimes. In fact, there have been few cases of prosecution in relation to the Global Financial fiasco. The race to the bottom regulatory environment of the last 30 years and the drive towards higher complexity seem to have conflated the ideas of liberty and amorality. In this parallell universe where failure of comprehension reigns supreme, there can be no punishment because there was no crime, there is no spirit, nor letter, of the law, only a porous and flexible boundary of legality. However, in the cases where regulators are pro-active, the market continually generates further complexity in a never-ending game of brinksmanship.

Even fantasies of a certain level of street justice, or poetic justice, are an illusion. When banks and banksters cheat and rob each other, this is a further re-distribution and concentration of resources and wealth within the 1%, any fallout is socialised. We have to remember that this is a system that rewards failure at the top end, so spare your tears for the downtrodden financier on the wrong end of the deal, his or her disappearance into a temporary obscurity is feathered with luxury.

In Chapter 1 of my drawings I show the antics of the Death Dollar Dealers (DDD) as they work within the moral vacuum, for profit and for fun. In the drawings, the DDD are often trying to capture some emotion, thought, impulse, sensation, bodily fluid, even death itself, for their algorithmic black box. They are trying to suck up the creative flows and energies of existence and turn them into quantifiable mathematical formuli, which is then turned into monetary capital and profit, or put to the service of the revivification of the rotting capitalist corpse. In the drawing above, they lay in wait for the CEO and CFO of Bank of Satan, who think that they’ve gotten away with the booty from their collapsing bank….he he he…..

Ben Bernanke and the leaky underpants

or, The Golden trickle….

Shit for shit

or, did that come out of Jackson Hole?

Well, whether Mr Bernanke did actually say it, or not, or maybe, the dear markets have been appeased again, the shit for shit deals are on, by gawd, by hook or by crook, we’re going to (try to) re-capitalise these banks, Draghi will of course mouth likewise. If rumours are anywhere approaching true, there may be a Bank that will soon need a shot, through the backdoor one would presume. But speculators take heart….one more shake of the cat.

Of course, the money will obviously fail to escape the event horizon of the financial black hole, nor the sticky fingers that it has to pass through. Ben and his ruffians are working at the wrong end of the debt problem. As Professor Steve Keen eloquently explains, this approach combined with austrerity is a misplacement of liquidity, debts need to be written off and the focus needs to be on the massive amounts of private debt. Public debt is of much less concern than private debt, which greatly outstretches it as a percentage of GDP. The servicing of the private debt load impacts consumption, which makes up c.70% of GDP… Keen is proposing a debt jubillee where the government would pay everyone a sum of money to retire their debt, or if debt free, spend into the economy. There are inflatonary issues there that need resolution and at the same time the debt deflation forces a deleveraging of the banks and probably some collapses (that’s where you’ve gotta get all Austrian and let them go.)

Prof Keen’s model applies particularly to the economies of the USA and Australia, but have an obvious global resonance. He was, by the way, one of the 12 economists identified by Dirk Bezemer who predicted the GFC and is much celebrated for his explanations and extensions of Hyman Minsky.

But nah, they’re not going to do that. A quick pump and dump before Armageddon?

A private island.