trans_actions: The Accelerated Art World 1989–09

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A museum visitor watches the “Biennale Timelines” narrative unfold. The density of timelines increases as more contemporary art biennales are created after the cold war—the focus of the show. Photograph by Daniel Fuchs.

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Photograph by Daniel Fuchs.

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A twenty year window on the rapidly expanding art world.


trans_actions is a panoramic data visualization that illustrates the dramatic increase in the number of biennales of contemporary art and the rapid expansion of the art market following the end of the cold war. Visitors enter a large panoramic projection room bathed in animated data representing artists, curators, biennales, and market fluctuations. (Panoramic video projection, 8192 × 1024 at 25 fps. Approximate running time twenty-five minutes.) Video documentation of the installation space courtesy of ZKM.

Created by collaborators Stewart Smith, Robert Gerard Piertrusko and Bernd Lintermann for The Global Contemporary: Art Worlds After 1989 exhibition at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Commissioned by the ZKM Institute for Visual Media in cooperation with the Global Art and the Museum (GAM) team lead by renowned art historians Hans Belting and Andrea Buddensieg. Audio compositions by ZKM’s Institute for Music and Acoustics team lead by director Ludger Brümmer.

trans_actions was created with Bronson, a data animation framework initially developed by Stewdio and Warning Office for Exit (2008) at the Fondation Cartier in Paris. Rewritten from the ground up, Bronson also powered Under Vine (2010) at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The writing of trans_action’s narratives was a collaborative effort while the design and coding duties were shared between Stewdio and Warning Office. In addition to creating visuals, Stewdio developed the trans_actions database structure and a light-weight content management system for the GAM team to interface with the database. The panoramic projection system was created by Bernd Lintermann who also—as always—acted as a guiding light and voice of reason.


Released September 2011.