TECH: Stock Market 'Planetarium'

From: Chris Rasch (
Date: Fri Apr 20 2001 - 13:32:31 MDT

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Stock Market 'Planetarium'
Date: Fri, 20 Apr 2001 13:58:51 -0400
From: "R. A. Hettinga" <>
To: Digital Bearer Settlement List <>

Stock Market 'Planetarium'

It's perhaps unsurprising that people are talking about vulgar things
the stock market in the rarified quarters of the Tate Britain, the
Kingdom's national gallery in London. After all, where else will they
the money to buy all of that art? But while the rest of us are pondering
the great question of bull or bear, the Queen's subjects may be asking
themselves "Taurus or Ursa Major?"

The "Stock Market Planetarium" on exhibition through the start of June
the domed Art Now gallery at the Tate Britain (and available over the
seeks to not only represent trading activity through the metaphor of a
starry sky, but to move towards predicting it. Computer generated stars
projected onto the 2.5-meter dome represent publicly traded companies in
real-time. As shares are bought or sold, corresponding stars flicker and
glow. Stars subject to similar trading patterns become gravitationally
attracted to each other, forming industrial clusters and constellations.
Look for the blue blaze of the Cisco Systems star or the majesty of the
Petrochemical Nebula.

Though William Butler Yeats posited that the legendary King Fergus of
Ireland ruled "all disheveled wandering stars," in the Stock Market
Planetarium stars drift in an intricate dance of interactions. Their
trading patterns eventually formed galaxies out of the even spread of
lights that was the primordial sky of March, when the display opened.
example, the exhibition's creators explain "the recent collapse of east
Asian prices and the sudden rush to sell would have caused all the
companies affected to glow very brightly and to be pulled towards each
other in a very powerful vortex."

Also thrown into the mix is something we're still desperately searching
in real astronomy: extraterrestrial creatures. Simple virtual organisms
feed off of the energy produced by capital flows (starving in trading
lulls), and may lend predictive value to this process as some
lines grow more cunning at finding food than others. How this
behavior will occur, as opposed to a sort of phototropism, isn't clear.
each creature is endowed by a "genetic program" with different
that it may use to its advantage, such as speed, breeding cycles, and
longevity. Eventually creatures akin to farmers, parasites, grazers and
predators may even develop, according to the project's website.

Black Shoals Stock Market Planetarium is an art project created by
Portway of Peter Gabriel's Real World studio and artist Lise Autogena,
the bestiary supplied by Cefn Hoile, a graduate student in Evolutionary
Adaptive Systems at the University of Sussex and a contract programmer
BT PLC Future Technologies Group. The Reuters financial news service is
supplying the data lifeblood of the effort.

As we ponder the mysteries of the markets and the universe, one can only
hope that the recent confirmations that the bubble of our universe has
burst or begun to collapse - indeed that it continues to expand at an
accelerating rate - will rub off on the activity represented by the
Market Planetarium.

-- Erik Baard, Technology Correspondent

R. A. Hettinga <mailto:>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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