Aloft at Hermès: Artist Xavier Antin merges nature and cryptocurrency for his site-specific installation
Back in 2010, then London-based French artist Xavier Antin created a composite printer by merging four vastly different printers from various eras: a stencil duplicator from 1880, a spirit duplicator from 1923, a laser printer from 1969, and an inkjet from 1976. He then self-published a limited run of a publication called Just in Time, or A Short History of Production (2010), which explored means and scales of production.
Antin revisits this theme of production in his newly opened site-specific installation, 'Vanishing Workflows', for Aloft at Hermès on the top floor of the flagship store at Liat Tower. Antin printed images of flowers found in various gardens of Singapore including Gardens by the Bay and Botanic Gardens onto fabric. He manually manipulated the printing process to cause intentional blurring and imperfections to transform floral still-lifes into abstract patterns of colour-gradient static.
The installation also reflects Singapore's thriving technology and financial industries by juxtaposing the printed tapestries with a Bitcoin validating machine at its centre, drawing similarities between the economic and social impact that came about because of the Gutenberg printing technique and digitisation; two inventions which have changed the course of civilisation. As the Bitcoin machine accumulates credits by validating digital transactions, it sends an automated request for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to Aloft. Market fluctuations will have a direct impact on the flowers' renewal cycle of life and decay. The state of the flowers will mirror the market's unpredictability.
"Both artworks (the printed fabrics and the machine-like sculpture) are set up to create a parallel but inverted loop of production, interweaving human gestures and digital processes within the same specific action: the representation of flowers", said Antin.