Corporate Vortex is a response to Dinner of the Dictators by Roxy Paine and was designed and installed by myself and 3 graduates of the Parsons program in Design and Urban Ecologies (Shibani Jadhav, Gamar Markarian and Silvia Xavier). We also worked closely with the curators of the New School art collection. The prompt we received was: how do we talk about food and dictators today, if the dictators are corporations? Our response was that it might not be helpful to talk about “dictators” but instead about about “dominion.” There are two components to the response. The Vortex and a video showing Corporate Expansion (see photos and videos below)
The Vortex design is an amalgam of old cartoons of corporate domination as octopi strangling the world, the Panopticon, and the helical model of the solar system . There are also a lot of art references (Hans Haacke, Anish Kapoor, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper, Dennis Oppenheim, and more). It is also, importantly, a data visualization. Viewers can have a “map legend” to hold (as every card has a geographic reference) as they explore the vortex, and booklets that have basic information on the companies and what the cards represent. Many cards are of brands, so the booklets show when they were developed or acquired by the three corporations. Another factor is the role of the different colors that comprise the Vortex. Though from certain angles it appears to be red, orange and blue there are other colors sometimes visible sometimes not, depending on where you stand. These colors tell stories as much as the cards do.
The Corporate Expansion video was inspired by a visualization of the growth of Walmart. In it the temporal and geographic information of the vortex is essentially resituated on a more conventional space/time axis.