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Simon Denny
Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

Simon Denny with Lind Kantchev, “Clockchain company postage stamp design: 21Inc.” 2016, custom-designed postage stamps, 5 15/16 x 5 15/16”

Continuing through April 23, 2017

Simon Denny's full-court press of an installation is a quasi-corporate mind fuck in its verisimilitude, both as a corporate trade show display and its sourcing of real capital-based businesses as its primary subjects. Three companies and their leaders — Blythe Masters of Digital Asset (a New York company specializing in blockchains), Balaji Srinisvasan of 21 (a Silicon Valley startup), and Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum (which makes 'Ether,' an alternative cryptocurrency to Bitcoin) — appear in digital cut-outs. Along with Masters and Buterin stamps that Denny had custom made with the aid of a German stamp designer, all are at the promotional ready in their respective tradeshow-like booths. Each booth also has its own prototype Risk board game, complete with a whole new generation of colored figurines. Think Risk 2.0, if not 3.0.  An accompanying video, "What is Blockchain?," featuring an authoritative yet warm-toned narrator schooling us in the language of cryptocurrency and setting up digitally secure financial transactions, is displayed just outside the gallery. The installation as a whole impresses with its high-production values and commitment. Yet, for viewers, there is so much to take in and absorb that, not unlike with complicated economic structures and language, we may want to surrender. It's an exercise in institutional critique via information overload, an attempt to reckon with the newly pervasive, and often cryptic, financial structures. 

Hammer Museum at UCLA

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