The Underlying

Ami Clarke

Opening Thursday 19 September, 6-9pm
Exhibition runs Friday 20 Sept - Sat 16 Nov, open Tuesday - Saturday 12-6pm
Part of our 2019 programme home


2 The Underlying Ami Clarke arebyte.jpg

arebyte Gallery are pleased to announce The Underlying, a new body of work by London based artist Ami Clarke, including Derivative (Virtual Reality, 6 mins), Lag Lag Lag (video interface with live sentiment analysis), and The Prosthetics (prosthetic optics, blown glass).

The contractual condition of both finance, and insurance, reveals the negative effects of capitalism on the environment, through a relationship with the past, that indicates that the future is coming up increasingly short.

In The Underlying, Ami Clarke expands on her work on speculation in language and the economy, as a state of contingency becomes a modus operandi.  Her multimedia approach draws upon personal history, to work within the complexities, multi-temporalities and scales, that coalesce around new and old power relations that come of, and are revealed by, technologies associated with the interdependent ecologies of social media, finance, and the environment. 

The work focuses on capitalism’s implicit role in environmental disaster, through the relationship of the past to the future in the contractual conditions of both insurance and the derivatives markets.  The financiers tool of ‘sentiment analysis’ of on/offline news media, permits a view into the rise and fall in reputations, as insurance companies lose their appetite for underwriting companies dealing in the production of pollutants.  Market forces develop green bonds and other instruments that attempt to financialise environmental problems and underlying assets, even further, as markets become, increasingly, as volatile as the weather. Meanwhile, the extractive protocols of the meme that is capitalism; ‘platform’, ‘surveillance’, late, as well as ‘disaster’, and the free market ideologies that underpin this, point to extractive relations borne of colonialism, with legacies often to be found in geographical locations with projections of the most volatile environmental futures. 

Clarke’s video work Lag Lag Lag utilises live sentiment analysis of online news production and social media, relating to BPA’s (Bisphenol A*) to consider how surveillance, rather than a rogue element of capitalism, enmeshes with the effects of market forces upon the environment, happening at a molecular level.  Working with former derivatives trader Jennifer Elvidge, and programmer Rob Prouse, the video work co-opts the financiers tool of sentiment analysis, that informs financial decisions on a daily basis, to develop a live interface in the gallery space. Subsequent analysis of news relating to BPA’s, maps the rise and fall of reputation in real time, whilst weather futures contracts, pollution data, and the FTSE, plot the fluctuations in stock price of the top 100 polluting companies in the world.

Her VR work Derivative draws from the popular imaginary of film productions such as Mars, and Bladerunner 2049, but located amongst the City of London’s financial district, for something more akin to ‘Bladerunner 2019: the burnout’ in the year the first film was set.  The work points to the failure of capitalism to provide even the most basic requirements to sustain life at a global scale - inherently reliant on extractive practices of colonialism and digital neo-colonialisms - that congeal in the fantasy of escape to Mars for the 1%, as it meets the biological essentialism of a waning patriarchy.  Whereas the alienation inherent to being a cyborg (replicant, or posthuman), as a machine aware of being a machine, lead to an understanding of identity as a construct, and hence could be constructed anew, more recent productions reflect a regression to severe modes of control through right wing political trends. As BPA’s flood the planets water supplies, to cries of ‘absolutely everywhere’, it becomes clear that the re-boot of the re-boot of the future, ends with a twist, in that there is no prequel, nor sequel yet to come, and questions regarding alternative models of living become increasingly more compelling and everyday.  

Whilst much emphasis is put upon the individual as a consumer with the suggestion that lifestyle choices might bring about the dramatic changes necessary to avert environmental disaster, the extractive principles of capitalism, that point to colonial pasts and digital presents, remain unchallenged. In contrast, the work in the exhibition seeks to position the subject emerging in synthesis with their environment, which sites the individual enmeshed within collective action, through expanding mutual ecologies that include environmental concerns, as well as contemporary digital milieu.

The discussions started within the work will continue with a talk bringing together speakers for Art Licks weekend: Interdependence, with transfeminist, geo-communist and postcolonial responses to the incredible complexities of the environmental crisis with Diann Bauer, Arun Saldanha, and Ami Clarke. (Saturday 19th October, 2-4pm, arebyte Gallery).

* (Bisphenol A - a chemical compound and synthetic oestrogen produced in the manufacture of plastics, recently found to be in water supplies the world over).


With thanks to: Matteo Cianchetti and Cecilia Laschi from The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa), Dr Jeremy Pilcher and others at the Birkbeck School of Law, Phoebe Stubbs (glass), Markus Grimm (glass), Samuel Capps (VR), Samuel Thomson (VR, Marta Strazicic (VR), Mark Stokes (CGI), Rebecca Edwards, Nimrod Vardi, Claudel Goy, and Philip K Dick.

This exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.

Events Programme:

Post-capitalist Ecologies:  
Transfeminist, posthuman, geocommunist and postcolonial responses to the environmental crisis

Saturday 19th Oct, 2 - 4pm @ arebyte Gallery
Free, part of Art Licks Weekend 2019, RSVP here.


A panel discussion with Ami Clarke, Diann Bauer, and Arun Saldanha. Ami Clarke draws together friends, colleagues and associates: Arun Saldanha, and Diann Bauer, who each in their own way seek to address the current power relations of catastrophic capitalism, and the structural injustices that come of this via gendered, racialized and sexualized oppressions.

Diann Bauer (AST and Xenofeminism)Alliance of the Southern Triangle (A.S.T.) is an initiative exploring how artistic and cultural possibilities can be reimagined in the context of climate change. It began as a research project in 2015 focusing on the idea of the global city, using Miami and South Florida as its case study. The project is committed to the idea that urban developmental trajectories can be altered through the adaptation of the networks that shape it

Arun Saldanha (Geo-communism.) Theoretical research on the question of race, which has brought me to consider vastly different fields, like environmental justice, climate change, philosophy of biology, Marxism, and political theory. Ultimately, what drives me is continental philosophy, especially Gilles Deleuze and Alain Badiou.

The Underlying artist talk and exhibition tour

Saturday 26 Oct, from 2 - 3pm 
Saturday 9 Nov, from 2 - 3pm
Free, RSVP here.

Join us for an informal discussion with Ami Clarke for her exhibition The Underlying at arebyte Gallery. 

Ami Clarke is an artist, writer, and educator, working within the emergent behaviours that come of the complex protocols of platform capitalism in everyday assemblages, with a focus on the inter-dependencies between code and language in hyper-networked culture. 

Ami’s research focus’ on algorithmic governance and performative modes of production from a trans-feminist post-human position. Ami utilises various digital media, often distributed, with aspects of live programming, to produce video works, sound, and spoken word performance. Her work is conceptually framed, drawing out new (old) behaviours emerging from human engagement with technology through performative modes.