Linear Alpha

“So we have now artificial absolute time for the first time ever in human history. And this therefore is scrambling these narratives it’s scrambling our sense of pre and post, what is the actual set of successions in the most concrete sense …”
Nick Land on Blockchain Revolution

With total crypto-currency market cap pushing  $200Bn, no one can doubt the power of decentralised and autonomous – financial systems and their future effects on our society.

The proliferation of cryptocurrencies reflects the variety of ideas and visions of possible futures that are being developed and seriously worked on in this space. While the mainstream attention invariably focuses on investor returns, the underlying technology, blockchain, has garnered grandiose claims of its own. This market of vying futures becomes an interesting standpoint for looking at contemporary and near future technologies and their effects on collective and individual knowledge.

Linear Alpha presents an opaque facet to the internet. Intermittently tweeting unsubstantiated trading advice, backlinking to a generic wordpress site of bombastic yet vague prose. This is the public image of an indeterminate agent.

Behind this lies a piece of software that takes a philosophical point and extrapolates it into an absurd gesture. Starting from Daniel Dennett’s ‘Post-intelligent Design’ and Chris Anderson’s ‘End of Theory’, the idea that genetic algorithms and neural networks fed on big data sets will supplant the need for human theory-knowledge, machine learning and computer vision are used to recognise traces of Linear A, a lost proto-Greek alphabet, in cryptocurrency market data. While nonsensical to a trader, a computer scientist or a linguist this reduction of different spheres of knowledge to raw pattern matching makes sense to the machine at the end of theory.

These new modes of knowledge are placed in their formulative context, a world that is market derived and driven and in which market intervention is its fundamental form of agency. In reducing knowledge to simply market edge, alpha, we see a logic beyond human meaning and ignorant of human historical time.
The physical sculpture presents this world view as a demented cosmogram hoisted on copper and fibre optics inside a server rack. Elevated on a rubber tile clad octagonal podium, the contemporary futures market maker appears to be a self-perpetuating inhuman process.