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Felix Kalmenson is Toronto-based
artist, with a personal practice in
installation, video, photography, and
performance. Kalmenson has exhibited
in solo and group shows in galleries
and artist-run centres in Canada and
internationally with recent exhibitions
including Aomori Contemporary Art
Centre (Aomori, Japan), ZK/U Center for
Art and Urbanistics (Berlin), Minsheng
Art Museum (Shanghai), The Elizabeth
Foundation (New York), Le Cube (Rabat),
La Fabrique Culturelle des Anciens
Abattoirs (Casablanca), Centro Negra
(Blanca, Spain) The New Gallery
(Calgary), and Kungliga Konsthögskolan
(Stockholm). Kalmenson has participated
in several international residency and
fellowships programs most recently
at Aomori Contemporary Art Centre in
Aomori, Japan. Kalmenson completed
a Bachelors of Architecture and Urban
Studies at the University of Toronto in
2011. He is represented in Canada by
Pari Nadimi Gallery.

felixkalmenson.com
parinadimigallery.com

Catalogue designed with
help from Elliot Vredenburg.

The artist acknowledges
the generous support of:

Exhibition documentation
courtesy of Jimmy Limit.
Special Thanks to Vanessa Rieger,
Rouzbeh Akhbari, Kathryn Frances
Warner, Sarah Anne Friend,
and Karen Frostitution for their
valuable contributions.

an Ontario government agency
un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario

A Year in Revenue, Installation Documentation.

A Year in Revenue proposes an archeology
of the formal remnants of late 20th century
financial structures and investigates the
successive stages of dematerialization born
of the late capitalist optimization paradigm.
These dematerializations have consequently
restructured the built environment and
occupational frameworks of finance, radically
altering the appearance of the stock market
floor; algorithms have replaced floor traders,
the stock market floor has been restructured
to accommodate computational power, and
whole buildings and infrastructural systems
have been retrofitted to optimize the flow of
data and capital. A Year in Revenue adopts
an archaeological strategy, investigating and
cataloging the remnants of those systems that
were subsequently rendered obsolete by this
phenomenon. The show is composed of a series
of installation works, employing strategies
of critical reconstruction that examine these
physical and conceptual structures in a
museological setting presenting a troubling
narrative of capitalistic optimization and
dematerialization.

Felix Kalmenson
A Year in Revenue, Installation Documentation.

A YEAR IN REVENUE

Felix Kalmenson
February 5 - March 28, 2015

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A YEAR IN REVENUE

A Year in Revenue: From Sunrise to Sunset, Detail.

A Year in Revenue, Installation Documentation.

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A Year in Revenue: From Sunrise to Sunset, Video Still.

A Year in Revenue: From Sunrise to Sunset, Multi-screen multi-channel video,
TV’s, Mounts, Blu-Ray Players, Zip Ties, and Hardware.

A YEAR IN REVENUE
Felix Kalmenson
Felix Kalmenson
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A YEAR IN REVENUE

Celebration and From the Ground Up, Lauan Plywood Underlayment, Latex
Paint, and Hardware.

BlackBox, BlackBox Algorithmic Trading App, Cellphone, Mount, Steel and Hardware

Uncaged, Livestream of ‘Charging Bull’, Tablet, Mount, Steel and Hardware.

Celebration, Spackle, Styrofoam, Baking Tray, Mount and Hardware.

A YEAR IN REVENUE
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Felix Kalmenson
Felix Kalmenson
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A YEAR IN REVENUE

A YEAR IN REVENUE

Chicago Board of Trade 1930
(User: OnfiyA, Rare & Cool Pictures Thread on Bodybuilding.com)

AMZN 354.53 +13.71% BIIB 389.16 +10.17%
NBR 11.51 +8.48% CAM 44.78 +6.04% DNR
6.90 +5.83% PCARPAC 60.11 -6.15% DAL 47.31
-5.78% PHM 20.59 -5.64% LEG 42.63 -5.41%
CB 97.90 -4.51% Nikkei 225 Japan 17,674.39
+0.39% Hang Seng Hong Kong 24,507.05
-0.36% FTSE 100 England 6,749.40 -0.90%
DAX Germany 10,694.32 -0.41% VFIAX
$143.0B +0.96% VTSMX $118.0B +0.95% VTSAX $117.5B +0.95% VINIX $102.1B +0.96%
VITSX $96.7B +0.95% SPY SPDR S&P 500 ETF
199.45 -1.26% IVV 200.87 -1.27% EFA 61.22

An essay for the exhibition
catalogue, by Elliot Vredenburg

Under the cover of night on December 15,
1989, Italian-American sculptor Arturo Di
Modica and his team of artist’s assistants
sat in the cab of a truck, en route to
Lower Manhattan. One world-famous
wall had fallen only months before in
Berlin, and Di Modica’s goal was to supply
3.5 tons of bronze reinforcements for
another Wall right there in Manhattan. By
jingoistically demonstrating the “strength
and power of the American people,”1 he
wanted to ensure it too didn’t collapse,
as it had sixty-three million, seventy-two
thousand seconds ago in 1987. Without
permission, pretense, or precedent, Di
Modica unloaded his Charging Bull onto
Wall Street, directly in front of the New

York Stock Exchange. While now universally
recognized as the symbol of the virility of
American finance, this $360,000 piece of
capitalist fan-art initially went unappreciated by
those that ran the exchange—the Bull was seized
by police and carted away on a flatbed truck to
an impound lot the morning after, before public
outcry led to it being installed in its permanent
location in Bowling Green Park at the base of the
Financial District.
Seven hundred and eighty-eight million, four
hundred thousand seconds later, after being
surrounded by barricades during a period in
which a bear would have been a more appropriate
symbol for the economy, the bull is uncaged
once more. Its brazen beginnings as an act
of guerrilla art still seem incongruous to the

A YEAR IN REVENUE
motivations behind the piece (although flagrantly
and regularly breaking the law is indeed an
integral part of finance capital), but it is only
now, with the Bull under constant surveillance;
viewable from anywhere, at any time—on a
tablet in the back room of a gallery in Toronto,
for example—that it truly fulfills its conceptual
potential. Its materiality dissolved, the Bull
actively corresponds to the current state of the
market that it originally sought to represent. In
2004, Di Modica announced that the sculpture
was for sale, provided the buyer does not remove
it from its current location—it is only a price
tag, without an obtainable object attached.
Not only does its perpetual for-sale status
contribute to its complete dematerialization—
the insane material weight of the Bull is further
made immaterial by its projection across an
inconceivable number of networks and protocols.
It is one of the most photographed monuments in
a city of most-photographed monuments, and its
financial value as an artwork defies the hands of
thousands of tourists who fondle it every day.
Di Modica could have never anticipated a 24/7
livestream of the sculpture—the distance from
which we may now view it was unfathomable at
the time. He built it for people to touch and hold.
Likewise, the environments that the stock market
occupies were specifically built and optimized
for human interaction: The floor of the Chicago
Mercantile Exchange (CME)—the trading floor
this exhibition replicates and dissects aspects
of—was specifically engineered for open outcry,
the mode of communication that was once the
primary mode of trading stocks. Now, more
than 80 percent of the total volume of trades
at the CME occur through Globex, an electronic
trading system. The daily frenzy of traders
signalling frantically, yelling at the top of their
lungs, has been outsourced to machines moving
at speeds beyond our capacity to perceive
them. Money begets money without any human
intervention; language, once an integral mode of
deciphering and interpreting our environment,
has been replaced by numbers. The microand nanoseconds that the stock market now
operates at are only perceptible to anthropogenic

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Felix Kalmenson
artificial intelligence—algorithms labeled
with cryptic monikers like Ambush,
Nighthawk, Raider, Dagger, or Guerrilla—
unleashed by proletarianized programmers
deep in the bowels of Goldman Sachs’
Manhattan headquarters. Even the CEOs
of Wall Street’s largest banks cannot
imagine the impossible temporality that
these machines operate at—but not being
able to imagine that scale does not make
it unfeasible to spend billions to gain
fractions of milliseconds in trading speed.
Numeric logic has superseded human
imagination.
Unlike the machine, we like to think that
our bodies are comparatively reliable
tools—autonomous; resistant to
ideological tyranny. We are free to move
and communicate as inefficiently as
we wish. We may prefer to walk slowly,
or refuse to applaud at a celebration.
But Sunrise to Sunset demonstrates
otherwise, as does attempting to walk
slowly down a crowded sidewalk during
rush hour. The numeric logic of capital
directs us toward optimizing our capacity
for “participation in digital milieus and
speeds”2—paradoxically pressuring us
to imitate the inanimate as we strive
to achieve the inhuman speed and
decisiveness of automation. Despite this
impetus to extend our physical abilities
beyond their limitations by mechanical
means, humans will always exist at the
anthropological position between dogs and
gods; the beast and the machine. Boris
Groys writes,
The position of humans does not lie
between the animal and the God, as
was once the case, but rather between
the animal and the machine. The
authors of older utopias tended to
affirm what is mechanical in humans
in order to differentiate humans
more sharply from animals, for
they perceived the greatest danger

Felix Kalmenson
for humanity to lie in animality. By
contrast, the authors of more modern
anti-utopias have affirmed what is
animal, passionate and instinctive in
humans in order to differentiate them
more sharply from machines, for they
perceive a greater danger for humans
in machinery than in animality.2
The messiness and inefficiencies of
nature, both human and environmental,
resist the rigidity of an automated control
society. Our ability to imagine is what
makes us human: It is what allows us to
narrativize and historicize experience so
that we may communicate with each other.
As Nietzsche observed, “an essentially
mechanical world is an essentially
meaningless world.”3 Affirming this is vital
to mitigating the effects of the society of
control, out of control in which we now
live. We must learn from the past, in order
to think of the future, so that we may act
in the present, lest we extirpate the nowmineable cognitive landscape just as we
have exhausted the Earth’s.
With the rise of the Industrial
Revolution of the 20th century, we entered
the era of the Anthropocene. The crux of
the Anthropocene is not that we humans
are the centre of it—capital is—but that
we may treat the Earth as if we are. But
as the spectre of the post-Anthropocene
emerges, so does the paradoxicality of
our situation: Although we started using
technology to shield ourselves from
Nature—to protect ourselves from the
death, catastrophe, and entropy that
Nature entails—we are now using it to
shield ourselves from the effects of that
very technology. In desperately seeking
ways to slow or mitigate the onset of global
warming, “resistance” to climate change
has quickly shifted toward “adaptation.”
In the process of this adaptation, humans
themselves have become repositories of
extractable resources—personal data is

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A YEAR IN REVENUE
the “new oil of the Internet and the new currency
of the digital world.”4 We are at the mercy of a
nature that we have created.
The blurring of the boundary between the
human and technological is evident in much
of the built world—a concrete park bench
is a direct result of global-scale resource
extraction—but its dominance is especially
evident in mobile applications that are built to
decipher the black box that is today’s financial
market for interfaces designed specifically for
human interaction. They paradoxically decipher
an anthropogenic phenomenon that has
grown in automated complexity to the degree
that we are no longer able to understand or
even see it happening, and contorts it into an
interface. The Forex Blackbox app, displayed
on an Android phone, paradoxically deciphers
an anthropogenic phenomenon that has grown
in automated complexity to the degree that we
are no longer able to understand or even see it
happening, and contorts it into an interface—
reducing the infinite chaos of global finance into
a single bevelled-and-embossed “trade” button.
Our memory and comprehension has been
externalized to the digital, accelerating us one
step further away from owning the technological
means of production.
We are relentlessly marching towards the
post-Anthropocene, at which point humans
become ultimately irrelevant to capitalism’s
functioning. This shift is materially evident in
the ongoing evolution and dispersion of the
stock markets at the very core of capital. Karl
Marx was the first to observe that the primary
requirement of capitalism is the dissolution of its
relation to the earth. “Capital by its very nature
drives beyond every spatial barrier,” he wrote,
making “the annihilation of space by time” not
only achievable, but inevitable.5 Prior to electronic
trading’s takeover of the stock market, traders
converged in centralized locations. Until the the
hyper-industrial era of the late 1990s took hold,
you could almost count the number of major
North American stock exchanges on one hand—
the NSX, the NYSE, NASDAQ (and its Boston and
Philadelphia iterations), the CHX, and the TSX

A YEAR IN REVENUE
in Toronto and MX in Montreal. Eight, on this
continent. Now these spaces have been hollowed
out into façades of the processes they were built
to house. Since the turn of the millenium, the
number of stock exchanges in North America
has skyrocketed to over twenty. Many of the
newer exchanges do not even have trading floors.
The real action takes place elsewhere—for
Wall Street, in massive server farms in the tiny
New Jersey townships of Mahwah, Secaucus,
and Weehawken; and for the CME, in a huge
warehouse in sleepy Aurora, Illinois.
Microprocessors are not built with the visual
grandeur of yesterday’s financial institutions
in mind. Instead, they are exclusively designed
for functional purposes, and their technical
aesthetic expresses that. The data centers of
global finance are similarly banal—a look inside
will not yield much more than sights of rows
upon rows of server stacks and water-cooled
pipes filled with cable runs hanging over top of
polished concrete floors. Many of these massive
server farms employ less than 200 people—
there aren’t even any humans for scale in the
stock photographs of these massive warehouses.
In an image of one of Google’s data centers, a
lone multi-colored bicycle sits in the middle of
an immaculately clean space, cluttered with
a superabundance of similarly colored pipes
snaking through and around the walls. With the
gargantuan scale of these structures comes
the sole concerns of energy efficiency and cost
effectiveness, and the main requirements of
these structures are equally few: thick masonry
walls, and few or no openings to any sources of
heat outside them. These unassuming suburban
server farms could not be further from the
hallowed financial institutions that symbolize
global capital—but they are the new heart of
Wall Street.
Now that the market has become pure
abstraction, its speed constrained only by
available energy resources, the formerly chaotic
and paper-strewn trading floors are well on their
way to resembling Kalmenson’s reconstruction
of them. It is now impossible to imagine what the

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Felix Kalmenson
market at heart of capitalism looks like,
never mind how it actually works. In Flash
Boys, Michael Lewis explains:
For a market expert truly to get inside
the New York Stock Exchange, he’d
need to climb inside a tall black stack
of computer servers locked inside a
cage locked inside a fortress guarded
by a small army of heavily armed men
and touchy German shepherds in
Mahwah, New Jersey. If he wanted an
overview of the entire stock market—or
even the trading in a single company
like Intel—he’d need to inspect the
computer printouts from twelve other
public exchanges scattered across
northern New Jersey, plus records
of the private dealings that occurred
inside the growing number of dark
pools. If he tried to do this, he’d soon
learn that there actually was no
computer printout. At least no reliable
one. No mental picture existed of the
new financial market. There was only
this yellowing photograph of a market
now dead that served as a stand-in for
the living.6
This exhibition is an expression of the
yellowing photograph Lewis describes: A
historical reconstruction of something that
isn’t yet historical; a fossil of the present
from and for the future. Buildings are
abandoned when they become too slow
and inefficient for the purposes they are
used for—ruins of a past paradigm. Brian
Dillon describes the ruin as embodying a
set of historical and temporal paradoxes,
reminiscent of the algorithms that have
superseded humans in running the
globalized economy.7 Simultaneously, the
ruin is a fragment of the past; a portal
backwards in time, as well as a reference
point for moving forward, prompting us
to imagine a time in which our present is

Felix Kalmenson
reduced to the ruin that sits before us. The
actors have left the stage long ago, yet the
audience is still applauding.
The essential elements of the formerly
frenzied trading floor replicated by
Kalmenson are modeled on the layout
of an amphitheatre. Historically, the
theatre has been an important place for
collective experience—Hannah Arendt
writes that “the theater is the political art
par excellence; only there is the political
sphere of human life transposed into
art.”8 Indeed, politics is also a stage on
which dramas are played out—and all
technologies involve scripts. The forms
that these dramas take—social, biological,
juridical, financial, military, and so on—are
endless. Dramas are a specific type of
fiction, predicated by the fact that they are
collaboratively performed and collectively
received in public. Accordingly, the word
drama itself, from the Classical Greek
δρᾶμα, means action. As Jacques Rancière
says, on the political stage, actors are
“surrounded by the performance, drawn
into the circle of action.”9 At a point where
the richest one percent of the world’s
population owns more than 50 percent
of the world’s wealth, being able to
stage these dramas to re-frame and reimagine even a modest change in wealth
distribution is crucial. But the dramas
that occur in the realm of finance are no
longer either performed or received by
humans—they are invisible, technological
dramas performed on temporal and spatial
scales imperceptible to human actors.
Another world may be possible, but its very
possibility has been erased from human
imagination.
By anatomizing this reality, Kalmenson
projects another world that is “recognized
as a reality which is suppressed and
distorted” in our current one, encouraging
the viewer to become a voyeur of
our present from the perspective of
the future, allowing us to perceive

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A YEAR IN REVENUE
“the emergence of another reason, another
sensibility, which [defies] the rationality and
sensibility incorporated in the dominant social
institutions.”10
When the market at the centre of the
capitalist economy is run by inhuman algorithms
that are premised on predicting the future, it is
only by projecting further—“on the bleeding edge
of strangeness, fifteen minutes into everyone
else’s future”11—that we may construct a parallel
world in which the possibility exists of contesting
the stranglehold market logic has over our lived
reality.
After all, even the word “impossibility” has
possibility embedded into it.

1
McFadden, Robert D. “SoHo Gift to Wall St.: A 3 1/2-Ton Bronze Bull.” The New
York Times. December 15, 1989. Accessed January 25, 2015.
2
Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, 100. London: Verso,
2014.

Groys, Boris. “Communism, From Outside Looking In.” In The Communist
Postscript, 78. London: Verso, 2009.

2

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Walter Arnold Kaufmann. The Gay Science: With
a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.

3

Kuneva, Meglena. “Introduction.” In Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset
Class, 5. World Economic Forum, 2012.

4

5
Marx, Karl. Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy, 125.
Translated by Martin Nicolaus. London: Penguin, 1993.
6
Lewis, Michael. “Brad’s Problem.” In Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, 53. New York:
W. W. Norton & Company, 2014.
7
Dillon, Brian. “Introduction: A Short History of Decay.” In Ruins. London:
Whitechapel Gallery, 2011. 10-19.
8
Arendt, Hannah. “Action.” In The Human Condition, 188. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1958.

Rancière, Jacques. “The Aesthetic Revolution and its Outcomes,” In Dissensus: On
Politics and Aesthetics, 119. London & New York: Continuum, 2010.

9

10
Marcuse, Herbert. The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist
Aesthetics, 7. Boston: Beacon Press, 1978.
11

Stross, Charles. “Lobsters.” In Accelerando, 5. New York: Penguin, 2005.

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Felix Kalmenson

Felix Kalmenson
Chicago Board of Trade ad 1974 (OnfiyA)

Chicago Board of Trade ad 1974 (OnfiyA)

A YEAR IN REVENUE

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Former NYSE Chairman & CEO Richard A. Grasso, NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, 72nd Secretary of the U.S Treasury
Paul H. O’Neill, 53rd Governor of the State of New York Governor George E. Pataki and others ring the opening
bell at the New York Stock Exchange on September 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Hider/NYSE Euronext)

AMZN 354.53 +13.71% BIIB 389.16 +10.17%
NBR 11.51 +8.48% CAM 44.78 +6.04% DNR
6.90 +5.83% PCARPAC 60.11 -6.15% DAL 47.31
-5.78% PHM 20.59 -5.64% LEG 42.63 -5.41%
CB 97.90 -4.51% Nikkei 225 Japan 17,674.39
+0.39% Hang Seng Hong Kong 24,507.05
-0.36% FTSE 100 England 6,749.40 -0.90%
DAX Germany 10,694.32 -0.41% VFIAX
$143.0B +0.96% VTSMX $118.0B +0.95% VTSAX $117.5B +0.95% VINIX $102.1B +0.96%
VITSX $96.7B +0.95% SPY SPDR S&P 500 ETF
199.45 -1.26% IVV 200.87 -1.27% EFA 61.22

Index of Language and Form
By Felix Kalmenson

The Bell and Marking Time
“The New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE)
Opening and Closing Bells mark the beginning and the end of each trading day.
The ‘opening bell’ is rung at 9:30 AM to
mark the start of the day’s trading session
and at 4 PM the ‘closing bell’ is rung and
trading for the day stops. There are bells
located in each of the four main sections
of the NYSE that all ring at the same time
once a button is pressed. There are three
buttons that control the bells, located on
the control panel behind the podium which
overlooks the trading floor. The main bell,
which is rung at the beginning and end of
the trading day, is controlled by a green
button. The second button, colored orange, activates a single-stroke bell that is

used to signal a moment of silence. A third, red
button controls a backup bell that is used in case
the main bell fails to ring.” 1
“The original signal was a gavel (which is still
in use today along with the bell), but during the
late 1800s, the NYSE decided to switch the gavel
for a gong. After the NYSE changed to its present
location at 18 Broad Street in 1903, the gong was
switched to the bell. The bell is rung by a diverse
cast of characters, ranging from heads of state,
to corporation wishing to celebrate anniversaries
or companies announcing a new listing on the
exchange. The bell wasn’t always considered an
important act and it wasn’t until 1995 that the
NYSE began having special guests ring the bells
on a regular basis. Prior to that, ringing the bell
was usually the responsibility of the exchange’s

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Felix Kalmenson

Felix Kalmenson

Screenshot From NYSE Youtube Channel for the Opening Bell

A YEAR IN REVENUE

For the past few decades the classic image of a stock exchange has been a giant
room where a group of traders stands in a
pit waving their hands around frantically.
What these traders and stockbrokers are
engaged in is the performance of a complex system of language called open outcry
as part of what is called floor trading. Traders usually flash the signals quickly across
a room to make a sale or a purchase of
futures or stocks. Signals that occur with
palms facing out and hands away from the
body are an indication the trader wishes
to sell. When traders face their palms in
and hold their hands up, they are gesturing
to buy. These gestures serve as an exterOpen Outcry Gestures (Tradingpithistory.com)

gurated by Booz Allen Hamilton, the security contractor that employed Edward
Snowden, perched up in the top corner
of the installation, looking down and surveilling the whole system of network and
exchange that sits beneath it. These bells
serve to celebrate capital flow and accumulation, appearing as an audience both
inaugurating and applauding the performativity of finance.

Screenshot From NYSE Youtube Page

floor managers.” 2 A Year in Revenue presents
a compilation of the Opening and Closing bells
from all 252 Trading days in 2014 from January
2nd to December 31st, there are 504 videos in
total arranged in a grid of 36 on each screen, 14
screens in total.
Looking amoung the many faces in a year
of trading you come across some hilarious and
some disturbing adjacencies, giving you a sense
of the total system over which capital functions.
It is most telling that the year of 2014 was inau-

Open Outcry and the Gesture

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A YEAR IN REVENUE

nalization of the performance or process of an erratic and complex world of finance. The function
of these gestures and the traders that make use
of them is to facilitate liquidity, to optimize the
movement of a good from a buyer to a seller, they
represent the zenith of human capacity to bodily
move the idea of value, the representation of capital and resource. They also function to highlight
the way that capital reshapes the body, reducing
it through a Taylorization or scientific management of optimal gestures, where each movement
is accounted for in the attainment of maximum
productivity. But even this complete optimization of the body could not contend with the speed
of emerging communication technologies and
algorithmic trading platforms in an age of high
frequency trading and accelerating capital.

CME S&P Pit, Black Monday 1987 (OnfiyA)

Toronto Stock Exchange the day they got a stripper onto the trading floor (OnfiyA)

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Still from instructional video on Open Outcry Techniques (Courtesy of Ben Thorpe Brown)

A YEAR IN REVENUE
Felix Kalmenson
Felix Kalmenson
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Felix Kalmenson

Felix Kalmenson

These ‘pits’ as they are termed have
experienced periodic upgrades, including vast air circulation systems, and most
recently a circulation system of cables
and electronic networks that has come to
supplant the visual and bodily circulation
of value that was once enacted in those
spaces. The floor sections have become
Chicago Board of Trade Logo

Like the traders themselves the floor upon which
they stood was also reconfigured by the linguistic
and spatial optimization demanded of an accelerating capitalism. In their fundamental forms
one can readily see a formal lineage to the Roman Amphitheatre, an architectural typology that
served as a public venue for gladiator combats,
animal slayings and executions, a lineage that
perhaps appropriately references the violence
enacted by capitalistic modes of extraction, exploitation and subjugation outside the theatre of
finance. Like the trader, the gladiator performed
value bodily, referencing the skill of wit in combat that would render them victorious. It was
not until the banning of the gladiatorial games in
the 5th century and of animal slaying in the 6th
that amphitheatres fell into disrepair, and their
materials were mined or recycled. The remaining
theatres continued to function as sites for open
meetings and in some cases religious ceremony
and this offers some hope that perhaps when

the exchanges are long abandoned, those
architectural elements of gathering, will be
appropriated and made social.
What is fascinating in these floor sections is how the necessity for facilitating
a complex system of sightlines and visual
languages has transfigured the amphitheatre template. The architectural form
no longer facilitates the communication of
one individual to the masses but instead
allows for the communication from the
Pompeii Amphitheater, Giacomo Brogi. 1881

Architectures of Communication

Roman Gladiators, Helene Guerber. 1896

Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 1972 (OnfiyA)

masses—or rather an individual within a
mass—with another individual across a
room without the aid of non-bodily communication technologies. The result is a
dizzyingly complex floor plan and possible
prototype for a meeting place for some
sort of radical democracy.

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like the traders themselves, redundant shapes
from a bygone era of bodily or human-centric
forms of capitalism optimized out of relevance in
an era of speed where they can now only serve as
symbol.

The Dromosphere
Beginning in the 1980’s phone trading and then by
the 1990’s electronic trading began to challenge
the primacy of the gesture as optimal language.
By the time the CEO’s of the Chicago Board of
Trade began to cut into the cake celebrating the
launch of Globex, the first international electronic
trading platform, The London Stock Exchange
had already fully converted to electronic trading.
By 2014 over 80% of trades at the Chicago Board
of Trade were performed through Globex, with
the New York Stock Exchange also moving almost
exclusively to electronic trading with only a handful of high-priced stocks still traded on the floor
in a hybrid auction and electronic platform3. It
is a bitter irony that individuals whose sole purpose was to optimize the mechanisms of capital
where themselves optimized out of relevancy, but
it is this speed and the fundamental restructuring of time and space that is at the very heart
of the neoliberal paradigm of optimization. It is

Chicago Mercantile Exchange Pit

Virtual Reality walk throughs of 1995 Chicago Merchantile Exchange (Dave Pape & Deb Lowman March-November 1995)

24

Chicago Mercantile Exchange Pit during renovations.

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Felix Kalmenson
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Chicago Mercantile Exchange Floor Plan

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an immense compression of space-time, where
just-in-time manufacturing coordinates within
a multimodal landscape of ports, warehouses
and exchanges, where milliseconds are millions
and high frequency trading dominates the financial landscape. As Paul Virilio notes, “Territory
has lost its significance in favor of the projectile.
We are replacing the expanse of the world with
speed” 4. This new paradigm Virilio terms the
Dromosphere, the race-like quality of late modernity’s temporality.

The Continued Presence of the Material
and the Territorial:
It would be, however, be erroneous to suggest
that dematerialization of systems of finance and
exchange into electronic signals is somehow
indicative of a totally dematerializing system or
that the labour of value and capital is likewise
dematerialized or made post-human. The process of digitization is fundamentally a process
of re-materialization and re-territorialization
where, “grey ecologies of server farms and forests of fibre […] inscribe financial archipelagoes
that would game the speed of light by locating
offshore sites that would optimize the movement of pulses between trading centers, for
which the incremental value of a commodity is
determined literally by its location in the Earths
light cone.” 5 The reemergence of the material

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Felix Kalmenson
is in the physical infrastructure of these
networks of speed, requiring an immense
web of cables to circumvent the globe to
connect the post-human architectures of
server farms that increasingly house the
bulk of global trade.
One such centre, located in Secaucus, New Jersey called New York Four, is
a “340,000 sq foot facility which features
advanced power and cooling systems,
more than 57 miles of cabling, and multiple levels of biometric access security between the lobby and the customer cages6,
illuminated by energy-efficient blue phosphorescent light. Countless metal cages
contain racks of computers that perform
trades for Wall Street banks, hedge funds,
brokerage firms and other institutions” 7.
And within just one of these cages, is an
array of servers that together form the
mechanized heart of one of the top four
stock exchanges in the United States. New
York Four receives up to 10,000 orders a
second8, a frequency which makes the
floor traders of the past decade seem like
stone implements.
The network of cables that connect
these centres are equally if not more impressive, spanning thousands of kilome-

Felix Kalmenson
ters across the world and are constantly
being updated in a bid to cut milliseconds
off of trade times in an age of high frequency trading. From 2007 to 2010 Spread
Networks a Mississippi-based company
employed 155 construction crews to build
an 825-mile underground route from New
York to Chicago, boring through largely
rural, mountainous terrain to shave off
3 milliseconds off the previously fastest
route9. The result is a multinodal landscape of grey ecologies of post-human,
fully automated colocation facilities. Even
more impressive, Hibernia Atlantic, A
New Jersey-based telecom company laid
a 3,000 mile stretch of cable (310 miles
shorter than the previous route) between
London and New York to shave off 5.2 milliseconds10. In electronic trading, speed is
measured by latency—the time it takes
from when a trade is started to when
it’s executed. The farther a signal has to
travel, the higher the latency, which is why
a shorter cable is a faster cable and the
milliseconds of difference translates to
millions in gains or loses.

What becomes apparent in these staggering figures is the equally staggering
amount of resources required to lay these
cables and manufacture the vast computational systems that function within
these networks. These processes require
whole new or expanded industries that
employ labor in their functioning. Whether
it is the mining of rare earth metals in-

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tegral to the computational systems and the
subsequent exploitation and destabilization
of geopolitics necessitated by this extraction
or the laboring bodies in factories assembling
the thousands of kilometers of cables or the
immense amount of microprocessors for computational technologies. This is not to mention
the vast, polluting and exploitative industries
that emerged for the disposal and recycling of
e-waste, the material of these network systems which in a fervor of acceleration makes
hardware redundancy and turnover staggering.
Considering all of these points it is hard to take
seriously the claim of dematerialization or posthumanization in these processes; the human is
merely being repositioned into sectors of labor
where computation has not yet excelled or where
by global inequities, bodies are still cheaper than
processors.
Likewise Paul Virilio’s statement that “speed
is a non-place that supplants geography” 11
seems rather utopian in consideration of how
these structural shifts in the global economy
have actually served to reassert the importance of territory and the state. The state not
only governs and regulates the extraction of
resources and labor necessary for the lubrication of this networked global system of capital
but also negotiates the terms of the networks
themselves. Because of the physicality of these
networks, they have a corresponding necessity

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Chicago Mercantile Exchange Floor Plan

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ritorialization and reterritorialization? Well
I think the answer to this question is first
I don’t know and also I will defer to others
to speculate. The science fiction writer
Charless Stross, in his book Accelerando
imagines a future where the foundational
logic of optimizing the conversion of matter to value will become increasingly
post-human and eventually leave earths
lightcone as a self-replicating organism
floating through space converting matter
into processing power so as to ad infintium optimize flows.

state intervention in networked geographies
in times of upheaval, such as in Turkey during
the Gezi Park protests, the Green Revolution in
Iran and the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong
to name a few, to see the continued importance
of the state in regulating networks and flows.
But these networks do introduce a whole new
set of challenges to contemporary notions of territory leading to what Benjamin H Bratton terms
the delamination of geography from jurisdiction.12

Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek
finance Minister in his 2015 article, ‘How I
became an erratic Marxist’, presents what
might be a glimmer of hope, a rather bleak
glimmer but one nonetheless. Varoufakis
asserts:
“Every non-Marxist economic theory
that treats human and non-human productive inputs as interchangeable assumes that the dehumanisation of human
labour is complete. But if it could ever be
completed, the result would be the end of
capitalism as a system capable of creating and distributing value. For a start, a
society of dehumanised automata would

What is at stake in this process of digitization,
dematerialization and rematerialization, deter-

Following the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests, the Bull was placed under police guard and was off-limits to tourists for almost 3 years, but is now again openly accessible. (wikipedia)

for place and contrary to naïve notions of the
complete open and free nature of the Internet
it is a largely balkanized geography, determined
and governed by the laws and ambitions of
states through which these networks flow. For
example one might ask why New Jersey of all
places has emerged as what the CEO of New
York Four termed, ‘the Heart of Wall Street’? This
was largely a coincidence of the availability of
low cost property and low property and corporate taxes, a set of economic conditions unique
to that state. Furthermore, one can point to the
Google-China conflict or any recent case of

But What’s at Stake?

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So for Varoufakis, what he calls the indeterminate, recalcitrant human freedom is what allows
for the generation of value, and the disappearance of this economic category of human freedom would collapse the whole system.

fakis is telling of not only of this fallacy of
liberalization but also of the reinscription
of territory and state power in the neoliberal contemporary, as a regulator of resources and labour.
“Take a look at South Africa today,
more than two decades after Nelson Mandela was freed and the political sphere, at
long last, embraced the whole population.
The ANC’s predicament was that, in order
to be allowed to dominate the political
sphere, it had to give up power over the
economic one. And if you think otherwise, I
suggest that you talk to the dozens of miners gunned down by armed guards paid by
their employers after they dared demand
a wage rise.” 14

“New York Stock Exchange.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 July 2015. Web. 15 July 2015. <https://
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Stock_Exchange>
1

2

Ibid

Shell, Adam. “Technology Squeezes Out Real, Live Traders.” ABC News.
ABC News Network, 12 July 2007. Web.

3

While this is perhaps a hopeful note for the
continued relevance for human society the posthuman character of neoliberalism persists today,
producing what Varoufakis calls a global democratic deficit. For him the objective behind 19thcentury liberalism was to separate the economic
sphere from the political sphere and to confine
politics to the latter while leaving the economic
sphere to capital. Contrary to the rhetoric of
numerous world leaders, NGO’s and institutions
that facilitate the expansion of neoliberalism,
economic ‘liberalization’ does not directly correlate with personal freedom and democracy, and
in many cases has the opposite effect bolstering
regimes of resource and value extraction that
reproduce a centralization and concentration of
power and capital. This last passage of Varou-

4

Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics. Semiotext(e), 2007. Print.

Bratton, Benjamin. “Activate New York: Benjamin H Bratton.” The Guardian. 13 May 2011. Web.

5

Miller, Rich. “What The ‘New Heart of Wall Street’ Looks Like | Data Center Knowledge.” Data Center Knowledge. 2 Jan. 2011. Web.

6

Bowley, Graham. “The New Speed of Money, Reshaping Markets.” The
New York Times. 2011. Web.

7

8

Ibid

Philips, Matthew. “Stock Trading Is About to Get 5.2 Milliseconds Faster.”
Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 29 Mar. 2012. Web.

9

10

Ibid

11

Virilio, Paul. Speed and Politics. Semiotext(e), 2007. Print.

Bratton, Benjamin. “Activate New York: Benjamin H Bratton.” The
Guardian. 13 May 2011. Web.

12

Varoufakis, Yanis. “How I Became an Erratic Marxist.” The Guardian. 15
Feb. 2015. Web.

13

14

Ibid

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Chicago Board of Trade ad 1980 (OnfiyA)

resemble a mechanical watch full of cogs and
springs, each with its own unique function,
together producing a “good”: timekeeping. Yet
if that society contained nothing but other automata, timekeeping would not be a “good”. It
would certainly be an “output” but why a “good”?
Without real humans to experience the clock’s
function, there can be no such thing as ‘good’ or
‘bad’.” 13

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Chicago Board of Trade: Launch of CME Globex, the first global electronic futures trading platform, 1992