Aleastock 2 by Paweł Janicki is an interpassive computational system endlessly looking for convergence and significant patterns in exchange rate data and transactions on global cryptocurrency trading markets.
Cryptocurrencies and their environment are a good field for transdisciplinary and unorthodox research and experiments on topics that somehow resonate strongly with current post-technological updates and their determinants: obscured layers of the system, big data, greed studies (especially in the context of the climate catastrophe and taking into account the energy expenditure needed to support the cryptocurrency circulation), and the autonomization of intelligent information processing systems which make behavior prediction or rendering possible.
The work processes a massive amount of data in real time and presents it in the same – massive – way. It overloads the senses of the audience by emitting audio and visual information in the quantity and with the dynamics that cause phenomena occurring when touching perceptual boundaries. Hypnagogic patterns allow the assimilation of relationships among the data in an intuitive way; some regularities in the data can only be observed by using such a method (recalling an old, but still relevant concept of “high touch” introduced by John Naisbitt in the late 1990s may make sense here).
The reference to aleatoricism in the title of the work applies to both musical and visual components. In the general consciousness, the term is mostly associated with the musical ideas developed by Pierre L. J. Boulez, but it is also used in other contexts, e.g., in architecture (Sean Keller and Heinrich Jaeger coined the term “aleatory architecture”). In Aleastock 2, aleatoricism appears in the meaning which was proposed by composer Witold Lutosławski. Lutosławski used the term “controlled aleatoricism” to describe introducing various mechanisms (e.g., removing divisions between measures) at the score level to disturb – in practice, similarly to Reich’s phase shift – the time synchronization of events in the selected places of a musical composition. In Aleastock 2, the graphical representation of sonificated data maintains a reference to time in the horizontal coordinate axis (in other words, it is a timeline), and thanks to this, it not so much makes it possible to use procedures similar to those described above, but rather causes similar mechanisms to occur naturally due to the very nature of the data being processed (the same applies to the polymetric rhythmic structure of the work).
The visual perceptual effect of experiencing Aleastock 2 evokes references to op art. Flat data patters transform into spatial structures; this is obviously an optical illusion, which in this particular case helps intuitively capture relationships in a large set of data. Importantly, optical illusions, which are extensively used in op art, have recently gained a new field of application: they serve in cryptography to protect information from being taken over by non-human entities, especially intelligent agents scanning the global space of information exchange: optical illusions (typically based on various specific features of the human visual perception apparatus that are usually ignored in digital models) are often illegible to AI-based or similar pattern-recognition systems.
Aleastock 2 is a successor and a continuation of the concept initiated in the “Aleastock” interactive installation, taking on the stock market data on companies in the technology sector. The premiere of “Aleastock” took place during the “Field of Vision – Field of Hearing” Lutoslawski Festival at the “Znaki Czasu” Centre of Contemporary Art (Toruń / Poland / 2013) and was curated by Krzysztof Białowicz.