Gabriel Zea

artist

Value Generator [2012]

Value Generator is a machine that creates aesthetic and economic value from the interaction of its users.

The system is composed of a wooden lever, a modified electric typewriter, a computer, a projector, and an Internet connection. When someone pushes the lever, this machine generates a digital share and prints a few characters of the share certificate. The machine has to be operated until the end of the document; then the visitor can keep it.

The price of the each share is the result of the project's value divided by the number of printed copies. With each new print the value of all shares changes. Likewise, when someone uses the machine, its value rises a small percentage. In the same way, the project suffers a small percentage of depreciation that reduces the invested capital as the time passes.

Each share is a unique object that has a digital and physical part. Its uniqueness is determined by the use of cryptographic keys. For each share, there is a public and a private key. The private key is stored in the database, and the public key is printed in a block of characters in the printed certificate. The decorative patterns of each print are regenerated on each following print using cellular automata algorithms. With the use of those tools, the system allows the owner of a share to verify its authenticity.

The paper used to print the certificates has been made specifically for this work to reinforce the uniqueness of the print. This strategy is directly based on the use of traditional graphic techniques for the fabrication of paper money.

This work states a paradox relationship between the piece's value, the visitor's physical work, and its receptivity among the public. As long as the machine is used for a longer time, capital will rise but, at the same time, the price of each share will reduce. If no one interacts with the work, the value of all the generated shares will slowly decrease down to zero. The project explores the idea that art products are economic objects tightly related to the social context of art, to the relative perceptions of value and the tendency of speculation common in the art market.