Marissa Lee Benedict (1985, Palm Springs, California, USA) and David Rueter (1978, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA) began their artistic collaboration in 2014 with the video installation Dark Fiber (2014-2019). The duo works with historical, technical, and material research from industrial processes and large scale infrastructural installations. Dealing with the mechanisms that reproduce capital on a global scale, the artists investigate the abstract languages and diagrams produced in diverse areas of knowledge, such as engineering, risk assessment, surveying, and architecture. In Dark Fiber, we watch the artists bury, pull, and cut a single fiber optic cable in the shadows of large-scale infrastructure, such as the border wall between the US and Mexico, oil refineries in the Chicago area, and a shipping canal in Antwerp. In telecommunications jargon, "dark fiber" is a term for unused or unlit fiber optic cables. In 2014, adding a few dormant wires to a fiber optic installation cost little, so telecommunications companies often chose to overbuild such infrastructure in anticipation of future demand. However, the demand for physical capacity, in many cases, has become superfluous, in light of technologic advances that increased the quantity of information transmitted via electromagnetic waves. The dormant cable, now surplus, has become a real estate opportunity for private companies who rent this unused fiber to create their own exclusive networks. Dark Fiber refers to the wires and to the flow of information that operates in the shadows of the public internet.
In 2018, the artistic duo, together with Daniel de Paula, rescued from the Chicago Board of Trade a "trading pit" that had been used through the decades for the buying and selling of corn and corn futures contracts. The device would be discarded as part of a definitive shift to digital transactions. The trio started researching the history of the trading floor and the abstract and concrete processes of circulation that surround it. In 2020, they made Repose (2020), a sculpture installed in the garden of the Arts Club of Chicago (USA). Composed of cut-out wooden fragments interweaving in patterns indexical of the Board of Trade’s geometric floor, Repose speaks to the deceleration of transactions that occurred in the pits prior to the permanent suspension, closure, and disassembly of the grain trading floor. The sculpture also refers to crates for shipping artworks, as the trading pit pieces prepare to be lifted and circulated through the art world as a new commodity form.
As a continuation of their work with the rescued trading pit floor, de Paula, Benedict, and Rueter will present deposition (2020) for the first time at the 34th Bienal de São Paulo. The Chicago Board of Trade pit will be rebuilt in the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, serving as a platform for public encounters of different natures, which were conceived with the purpose of emphasizing the meeting and confrontation atmosphere prompted by the structure itself. The artists plan for the "pit" a series of public appearances in cultural institutions over the next decade with the aim of promoting discussions beaconed by the different political, social, artistic, and philosophical views that emanate from the object.
Support: Graham Foundation for the Advanced Studies in Fine Arts, Resource Center (Chicago, IL), University of Oregon, Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).