Exhibition: ‘Trickle Down, A New Vertical Sovereignty’ at arebyte Gallery

Text by CLOT Magazine

The Important Russian Art Auction, Sotheby’s. Video still. Photo credit: Helen Knowles

Trickle Down, A New Vertical Sovereignty, a new body of work by UK-based artist Helen Knowles, opens at arebyte Gallery this evening. What are the technological and financial power structures governing value and the distribution of wealth in our society? And who really stands to benefit?

Composed of a tokenised four-screen video installation and generative soundscape that are triggered by sensors responding to visitors to the installation, the artwork provokes questions about labour, automation, value in art, decentralised sharing economies and distribution of wealth. Auction scenes, performances and choral interludes by different communities, such as prisoners, blockchain technology employees, market sellers, and Sotheby’s auction bidders, are included in the exhibition, highlighting the technological and financial power structures that scaffold the disparity between a wealthy elite and everyday working people and re-imagining our vertically stacked digital ecosystem to distribute wealth horizontally. 

Helen Knowles is an artist and curator of the Birth Rites Collection at Kings College London.  She has a BA Hons from Glasgow School of Art and an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths University. Knowles’ practice stems from an interest in the new sovereign territories of the internet and the digital world. Knowles lectures widely around the UK and abroad and toured her recent film work, The Trial of Superdebthunterbot, a 45-minute doc-fiction where a debt-collecting algorithm was put on trial, to various law schools. 

Trickle Down, A New Vertical Sovereignty is supported by Arts Council England. It is produced by FutureEverything with additional support from Whitworth Gallery, The University of Manchester, arebyte Gallery, FACT and One London Bridge. A series of public workshops around the exhibition, alternative economies, and the blockchain have also been taking place at the Whitworth Gallery as part of Economics the Blockbuster, an action research project and exhibition for late 2021/early 2022, in partnership with Alliance Manchester Business School.

The exhibition is open until February 26, 2020.

(Media courtesy of arebyte Gallery)
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