Critics’ Picks

Aaron Flint Jamison, 2x Scrypt Huffer (detail), 2014, application-specific integrated circuits, heatsinks, wood, power cables, data cables, hardware, carbon fiber, copper, foam, peltier devices, ESD material, inverters, ducting, air conditioner, screen, books, servers, dimensions variable.


Aaron Flint Jamison

Air de Paris
32 rue Louise Weiss
September 11–October 24, 2015

Craft improbably collides with the aesthetics of network administration in Aaron Flint Jamison’s latest exhibition, where the mainframe is 2x Scrypt Huffer, 2014. Kitted out with turned-wood conduits and mounted to the wall, a lacquered black box—think floating minifridge—houses a shimmering array of application-specific integrated circuits. This processing hub is tethered to a terminal constructed from purple heartwood, a dense material whose enduring appeal to the artist might lie in its sheer resistance to manipulation. With its monitor at face height, the standing workstation incorporates an Ergotron articulated arm supporting a Kinesis Advantage keyboard plus joystick mouse—all features designed to extend worker productivity—forming a negative relief of a human body.

But whirring fans and flashing lights aside, there’s no proof of work happening. One can’t shake the feeling that this is a Trojan horse, as all signs point to the machine functioning as a pretty nice cryptocurrency mining operation like those devoted to harvesting Bitcoins. As such, the work inhabits parallel planes of financial speculation simultaneously: as art-world commodity and cryptographic block erupter. Jamison’s marriage of difficult woodworking operations to high-energy decryption underscores their shared aim at refined ends through excessive outputs of force. Copies of Jamison’s book, the two-volume Checksum Digest, 2015, hide in plain sight on a lower shelf of the terminal. Its relationship to the rest of 2x Scrypt Huffer is never explicit, but the particular ends of this hardware are questioned in elliptical prose while commons-based peer productions of more altruistic purpose are floated as possible alternative applications inside the volumes. Beneath the veneer of inscrutability, the artist is invested in shared applications of knowledge and resources. One just needs to know the language to gain access.