Performative Finance

During a one-week period in Venice, a group of students from the Design Interactions department at Royal College of Art were invited to work at the Swiss Pavilion on a project about the Future of Labour. Taking London as a precedent we began a critical investigation into the creation and culture of the City of London Corporation, the small historic business district of the city and the newly fabricated “pop-up” financial centre of Canary Wharf that rose from the abandoned docklands in the late 1980s. Their architecture towers over the city, and their exterior design draws little from local precedents. Financial hubs such as these have been springing up all over the world, mirroring the architecture of other nodes like it over their locations. Looking at how these industries conduct their business, our project investigates the future role of human interaction and transparency in this connected network economy where decisions made behind closed doors affect everyone’s future.

'Performative Finance' deals with the on-going global segregation of financial districts from the countries and cities they are based in. This trend has given rise to a separated global financial culture where the issues of transparency and locality are brushed aside for profit. Located in an international network of big financial districts, businesses almost entirely operate through digital channels. On these channels deals are discussed and contracts are signed.

Human interaction between companies becomes a formalised performance that holds the symbolism of trust and acknowledgement. In an attempt to suggest public transparency of international economics these standardised performances are broadcasted live on television. The companies hire so-called financial performers to exchange standardised gifts that represent the physical architectures of the companies (their buildings) and hold a backup of the digital contracts to ensure equal trust. These physical data storages are collected in the companies boardroom and build the new digital architecture the company is located in.

What rituals can we have for transparency in the network economy?

I designed the ceremonial blocks in Illustrator.