Cannibalised cultures and colonised territories | Mark Rappolt


One of the ways in which we assimilate the new is to insist that it is, in fact, old. Nothing comes from nothing, as the old saying goes. That certainly seems to be the case in Shanghai-based Liu Chuang’s three-channel videowork Bitcoin Mining and Field Recordings of Ethnic Minorities (2018). The work takes the form of found and filmed footage with a voiceover narrative that traces material and immaterial lines of power that have been deployed in China, over the past few thousand years, to conquer people and territories, and to generate material and immaterial profit. The narrative moves from economic inflation triggered in eastern China during the fifth century BCE, when King Jing of Zhou reduced the amount of copper in coins in order to fuel an obsession with creating enormous bronze chime bells, to nomadic bitcoin miners, operating outside any centralised banking system, herding their rigs across present-day China in harmony with the seasonal and regional variations in energy production.

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