Gary Zhexi Zhang: Catastrophe Time!
Book launch and conversation
February 26, 2024, 7pm
172 Classon Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11205

For the US launch of Catastrophe Time! (Strange Attractor Press, 2023) join e-flux on Monday, February 26 at 7pm for a conversation between editor Gary Zhexi Zhang (SMACT ’19), Kei Kreutler, Laura Serejo Genes (SMACT ’18), and Nolan Oswald Dennis (SMACT ’18).

Once, financial practitioners plied a hybrid trade as hydrologists, star-gazers, and weather-watchers who sought to discover the natural laws of value and exchange as they did the divine order of an unchanging nature. Today, corporate firms hire trend forecasters and scenario planners to play out strategic fictions in virtual worlds. Hurricane insurance markets simulate a turbulent climate to offer investment instruments to hedge against the risks of the stock market. And for financial astrologers operating on Wall Street and the City of London, celestial motions provide a cosmic guide to the mood of terrestrial markets.

As the title exclaims, this book explores the time of catastrophe: the weird temporalities that texture the making and unmaking of worlds. In particular, it attends to the ways in which reality is shaped by technologies of time and of belief: the evolution of finance, economics and insurance; predictive processes like simulation, mitigation and forecasting; conspiratorial plots and accidental manifestations.

Bringing together artists, researchers, and interstitial practitioners, Catastrophe Time! explores what happens when reality loses its grip, and the temporalities we take for granted are radically disrupted, or reveal themselves—generatively or disastrously—as fantasies. By sampling temporal practices and operative fictions already playing out in our midst, it seeks ways of thinking, feeling and acting in multiple, heterogeneous worlds which nonetheless unfold as one.

Contributors include Diann Bauer, Philip Grant, Bahar Noorizadeh, Habib William Kherbek, Klara Kofen, Kei Kreutler, Suhail Malik, Bassem Saad, and Gordon Woo.


About the participants:

Gary Zhexi Zhang (SMACT ’19) is an artist and writer whose work explores connections between cosmology, technology and economy. The opera he co-created with Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce, premiered at Somerset House in 2022 and tours throughout 2024. He is a member of Akademie der Kunst der Welt, senior research associate at Serpentine Arts Technologies and strategic lead at Rockbund Art Museum. His upcoming solo exhibition, METAMERS will be presented at EPFL Pavilions in Lausanne.

Kei Kreutler is a writer and artist interested in how cultural narratives of technologies shape their use. For the last decade, she worked on building decentralized software infrastructure for organizations. She contributes to Other Internet Research Institute and sits on the Board of Regen Foundation. She currently focuses on a book project titled Artificial Memory.

Laura Serejo Genes (SMACT ’18) is an artist, curator, and educator. She works with Kiyoto Koseki in a curatorial partnership based in New York. They produce exhibitions and programs for specific sites, building upon existing systems to draw new social, material, and historical connections. They served as Curators-in-Residence at Abrons Art Center from 2022-2023 and are 2024 Frame Curatorial Research Fellows. Since 2017, Laura has worked with Nolan Oswald Dennis (SMACT ’18) and Pedro Zylbersztajn (SMACT ’18) as the Index Literacy Program, a collaborative research practice investigating indexicality and the politics of indexical forms. She currently teaches in the Communications Design Program at Pratt University, Brooklyn.

Nolan Oswald Dennis (SMACT ’18) is a para-disciplinary artist exploring ‘a black consciousness of spacetime’ and questioning the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. They are a founding member of the artist group NTU; as well as the Index Literacy Program; and the convenor of ‘black earth study club’ a network for extra-planetary solidarity. They are currently a Research Associate at VIAD, University of Johannesburg; co-editor of Indexing Imaginaries, volume 08 of the Data Browser book series published by Open Humanities Press (due fall 2024).