December 11, 2017

Simon Denny @ MOCA Cleveland - The Founder’s Paradox

Simon Denny: The Founder’s Paradox
Museum of Contemporary Art - MOCA Cleveland

February 16 - June 10, 2018

SIMON DENNY is a Berlin-based artist who explores the aesthetics, rhetoric and cultural impact of technology and technologists, both in the public and the private sector.

For his exhibition at MOCA Cleveland, Simon Denny presents new sculptures, paintings, and prints that employ the language of board games to explore and unpack political narratives associated with a side of radical conservatism emerging from influential parts of the technology business community in recent years. Reflecting on the growing subcultural popularity of board games, and resonant with the histories of game theory’s influence on the technology sector, these works present popular board games remapped with narratives distilled from texts like Peter Theil’s contrarian Zero to One and the cult libertarian book The Sovereign Individual. For example, Settlers of Catan, which is the favorite board game of tech entrepreneur and founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman is re-imagined as a story of expansion where a player “settles, trades, and builds” their way from a decaying earth to New Zealand, then out into international waters to found a sea-steading nation, and finally to the Moon and Mars to create space colonies.

Simon Denny: The Founder’s Paradox includes remapped sculptural versions of three existing popular board games that include Settlers of Catan, The Game of Life, and Descent: Journey’s Into Darkness. Each sculpture is accompanied by a group of paintings and prints that present the new rules, characters, and graphic identity for the remapped games now retitled Founders, Game of Life: Collective vs. Individual, and Ascent – Above the Nation State.

In the works on display, newly prominent mythologies about the figure of the entrepreneurial “founder” and the role of the nation state in a libertarian future collide with fantasy genre imagery, expansionist ambition, and the role of political ideology. These narratives are present within globally impactful innovations like Bitcoin and emergent platform monopolies enabled by the network effects of big data and Web 2.0.

In an exciting collaborative component, Simon Denny’s exhibition also explores the intersection of technology and management philosophy through an experimental seminar and workshop led by Denny and Youngjin Yoo, a Professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western University, which also includes Patrick Barrett, Adjunct Professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA). Here he works with MBA students and Design students to produce designs for sculptural board games that investigate the impact specific technologies might have on various industrial sectors — such as transportation, healthcare and housing as they meet Augmented Reality, the blockchain and big data —providing a counterpart to his own board game sculptures.

Simon Denny (1982, Auckland, NZ) is a Berlin based artist whose work focuses on the production, dissemination, and consumption of contemporary media and technology with a particular focus on the internet based exchange of capital and information. His works take shape in a range of forms that often mimic the visual language and devices that appear at various technology industry trade shows and launch events. Denny is a research based artist whose work offers critical and celebratory insights into the content and structure of the technology industry, governmental information agencies, and individual cult figures in the field. Recent projects include exhibitions, objects, and installations that investigate the emergent cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the blockchain technology that makes it possible; the Berlin based SoundCloud startup; and a series of graphics—including cartoons, maps, and charts— made by a senior designer at the National Security Agency (NSA), which were part of the information leaked by Edward Snowden. Denny has been based in Berlin since 2009 following his studies at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. Recent solo exhibitions of his work include Business Insider, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2016); Products for Organizing, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2015); The Innovator’s Dilemma, MoMA PS1, New York (2015); New Management, Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); All You Need Is Data, Kunstverein Munich, Munich (2013); and Full Participation, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2012). In 2015 he represented New Zealand in the 56th Venice Biennale.

Museum of Contemporary Art - MOCA Cleveland
Toby Devan Lewis Gallery
11400 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106

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