Weight of Data – Commodities, Data and Art by Younghui Kim

First Series:  RICE, SUGAR, SALT
Venue: This Weekend Room (Seoul, S. Korea) May 7 – 12, 2016

When I hold a handful raw rice and carefully look under light, each particle reflects light in transparency.  Salt and sugar also, shows rough shaped transparency.  These three white commodities I selected are abundant in our everyday lives and each has a long history deeply embedded within our culture.    Each were substituted as a currency in history and once caused a war.  They are also are traded in weights.

I’ve worked with 1 Kg of each edible commodities to create an installation where lights are presenting through textures of commodities themselves and lively fed data algorithm reinterpreted in Kgs of weight equals to one cryto currency such as Bit Coin or Lite Coin exchange rate.

RICE (1 Kg of rice, data, electronics)

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What value does RICE represent to us today?

Rice used to be exchanged as a currency in old Korea and other regions in Asia. People used to pay tax in bags of rice. Rice is still sacred in this society and is a commodity that is being protected from global market, and holds political and economical idea and value.
With all the complexity what Rice represent in this culture, the artist is throwing an open question by contrasting the old currency (Rice) and the new currency (Bit Coin) and reinterpret its value and changes in relations to each other.
An artwork of a string full of 1 Kg of raw rice is representing the real-time value changes of one of the main commodity; Rice, in relation to the value of a Bit Coin that is being exchanged in global market every minute. The data algorithm calculates weight (in Kg) of rice which one Bit Coin can buy according to the world trade market exchange values then, displays in different colors of lighting patterns based on its rises and fall.

SUGAR (1 Kg of sugar cubes (8 meters long), data, electronics)

Like sweet candies, sugar cubes transcend colorful lights through.  As rate of trading market value changes in both Sugar and Bit Coin, the patterns changes into orange, red, green and yellow green.  When there are no changes in quotes in real time, each sugar cubes shines in all candy-like colors.  What if this piece develops into a wearable format?

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SALT (1 Kg of salt, data, electronics)

Salt is an essential element of life and saltiness is one of basic taste of human.

In many cultures, salt is used in sacred ceremonies.  This small volcanic figure of 1 Kg of salt is not grand but, illuminates in a large mystery.  The artist throws an open question by contrasting the old currency(salt) against the new currency(Lite Coin) to relate value of digital culture in our lives.

SALT by Younghui Kim, 2016 (1 Kg of Salt and Data)

Salt is 8,000 years old commodity in some theory and it used to be highly valuable as gold in weight (6C., rock salt in ancient Ethiopia).   ‘Salary’ means ‘salt’ in Latin and ancient Romans paid labor fee in salt.

Salt is sacred and practiced in important ceremonies in different cultures.  In Korea, there is a custom of throwing salt to scare away ill lucks.

In this installation, salt has been sprinkled on the clear acrylic until it’s filed up.  The artist wanted to display it in a sacred way for audience to stare in wonder.

Salt is essential for living but, it is being avoided for over consumption in modern life.  Salt is not presented world trade markets as the price ranges are broad as there are cheap salts to expensive gourmet salts. Korean sea salt was price 3500-12800 KRW per 1Kg and online store, Chinese imported rock salt is priced $48-50 / 27 Metric Tons (=27,000 Kg).