Antepavilion: Floating Stock
The floating stock exchange is a participatory installation conceived as an abstracted representation of a stock market for the annual Antepavilion competition.
Unapologetically abstract and artiﬁcial in aesthetic, Floating Stock provides members of the public with the opportunity to interact with a working demonstration of a real stock market. The public may buy or sell actual ‘shares’ in the pavilion and access project information via a digital app. ‘Shares’ manifest physically within the installation via the automated ﬁlling and draining of container ‘units’. As the installation ﬁlls and drains, the ballast adjusts, causing the pavilion to rise and sink, echoing market ﬂuctuations, bubbles and corrections. This process is automated and digitally controlled, taking on an appearance of autonomy, despite responding to the interaction of individuals.
The sitting of the pavilion on water speaks to an existential precarity and the dimly present threat inherent in a system which could sink at any time. Floating Stock brings to the surface discussions around the fundamental structuring of the ﬁnancial system- questioning its stability and ultimate fate. Such matters are relevant in the post-2008 reality with the ever-present threat of relapse into recession, coupled with the rise of new decentralised forms of exchange including cryptocurrencies.
Phase 1: Market Established
The proposal is part digital, part physical. The physical component, the pavilion itself, represents the state of the ‘floating stock’ market, by filling and draining with water. The pavilion provides a physical manifestation of a usually abstract phenomenon.
Phase 2: Market Growth
The digital component consists of an app-based trading platform through which members of the public may buy or sell ‘shares’ in the pavilion and access information about the project. One share purchased via the app. results in a 0.06m3 block being pumped with water. The share cost equates to the cost of the physical materials used to make each piece of stock, thereby a funding model for the pavilion is also established.
Phase 3: Market Capacity
Purchased ‘shares’ fill the boat in block increments, from bottom to top of each column. In this way, the aesthetic of the pavilion changes, visually referencing the fluctuating market. As more ‘shares’ are purchased the load increases, causing the boat to sit lower in the canal – the risk increasing as demand for the stock increases. Visual indicators of remaining stock left will create further buying pressure.
Phase 4: Market Crash
The dimly present threat of a market crash intensifies as hype and demand for stock reach its peak. Designing a proposal that is doomed to fail is to splash playful satire upon the abstract, disconnected and, at times, the arbitrary process by which value is assigned and traded – a process which has more to do with perception and mass-psychology than concrete value or utility.
Process and Materiality
Construction is based on a simple palette of materials: the pavilion frame is built from an interlocking ‘kit of parts’ machined from Birch plywood.Recycled perspex will be water-cut into modular components pieces to create neat translucent tanks, representing a single share, and which will be given to each shareholder at the end of the exhibition. Large bilge tanks in the hull, ﬁlled with fresh water will feed the ‘shares’ through a network of copper pipes, ﬁlters and valved connectors. An additional pump will equalise the weight of the stocks by pumping water from the canal back into the bilge tanks. Material costs will be supplemented through a pre-sale of shares in Floating Stock.
Canals were early veins of transportation, enablers of the industrial revolution in its nascent stages. Sited on the ‘Ouse’, the pavilion pays homage to the historical development of shipping, inherently bound up with the development of commerce, and even the ﬁrst stock market. The concept also references an alternate etymology of the word ‘ante’ to mean ‘stake’ – forging a linguistic connection between pavilion name and content.