Value Quest Bourse Logo An electronic allegory of Casino Capitalism
No one is free. The winners must compete, the losers must be exploited

Value Quest Bourse - Art Concept

Authors: Violeta Vojvodic-Balaz and Eduard Balaz (Urtica)
see credits
Published on November 24th, 2011
Casino Economy
The Roulette: The Success Circuit
The casino analogy, as common symbol of the crisis, creates a ground for natural interaction with public and enables the construction of sophisticated layers of interpretation. The bet options at the Value Quest Roulette table represent three requisite elements for achieving a goal in games, economics or life, i.e., disposition of environment toward an actor, available resources, and chosen strategies. You can play on a single or a range of numbers corresponding to the strategies like Laissez-faire or Intervention. You can also bet on resources (Funds and Capital, Information, Personnel, Products and Services) or features of environment relevant to resource seeking perspective such as Stability or Mutability. Instead of money VQ Roulette brings into play VQ chips that correspond to diverse aspects of Value featured in allegorical guardian symbols of Urtica--the stinging nettles. Each chip represents different industrial sector inspired by UN classification of industrial sectors. A digital roulette wheel selects the winning term randomly. In spite of a general human tendency toward the mitigation of uncertainty, we are often entangled in unpredictable circumstances or forced to make a hazardous maneuvers and random choices. The double zero style of VQ Roulette highlights that rudimentary relationship between Risk and Safety, and brings an everlasting question who takes risk and who takes the consequences?

How to create something out of nothing? During the quest for a perpetual motion machine, a French mathematician Blaise Pascal invented the first simple form of roulette wheel in 17th century. Although the perpetual motion device should operate as a closed system, it is physically impossible (the first two laws of thermodynamics) since the perpetual motion needs-consumes energy from an external sources. The VQ Roulette follows the production rule if (energy can only be transformed or exchanged) then (energy cannot be created or destroyed) the users’ energy is transfered into useful work, i.e., the click-labour (spin and stop the wheel) needed to put an artwork in function. The Value Quest Bourse brings an issue of labour and accumulation of capital in a digital era. It depicts the perpetual movement of the social-economic-aesthetical metamorphoses of value, a never ceasing conversion of labour into some sort of capital (social, economic, or knowledge capital). But the question remains, who consumes the profits of the labour?

The opacity of distribution of surplus value in a dizzy chain of public-private interests, the concentration of scarce resources and the global monopolization of certain industries lopsided the environmental situation in favor of big players. The speculative greed and footloose capital created the demand to enlarge the scope for financial gain which lower the price of the labour. The global consensus was made Liberalize, Deregulate, Privatize. Enforced privatization*06 process was extremely corruptive and brutal in countries that passed transition from socialism to capitalism when public and state capital is converted into private and corporate. The firm were privatized for a fraction of their real value with a wishful promise that new owner will invest in factory and/or social program. Instead of it the small stock owners were marginalized, the assets were sucked out through sister firms and factories got bankrupt. The epilog: due to the irregularities a lot of privatization had been canceled, ruined firms were returned to the state and no one knows what to do with them and unemployed workers.

In economics one often has different strategies at disposal, e.g., lobbying for Laissez-faire principal based on market fundamentalism and belief in self-correcting mechanisms of the market, or opting for state Intervention. There are always the pros and cons for each option. During the Great Depression Keynes observed the capitalists who ran the system: “When financial markets collapsed and profits fell, these capitalist lost their nerve. They lost their 'animal spirits’. They went, suddenly and disruptingly, from illogical optimism to deepest pessimistic gloom. Drunken sailors one minute; terrified rabbits next. Market opportunities beckons but were ignored. The only remedy for the real economy was state intervention to restore demand and therefore economic growth.”*03 On the other hand there is a stand that interventionism and bank bailouts create a moral hazard problem since they encourage speculators to undertake risky strategies by “privatizing profits and socializing losses.”*07

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