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Let’s ACT – Cream on Chrome

6 min read
13 Jan 2022

What if ecological value were the main driver of global markets – if shareholders were ‘careholders’? With The Environmentalist Stock Exchange, ACT Award 2022 winner Cream on Chrome shows a trading simulation where visitors metaphorically “invest” in species and ecosystem services. Each of these actions feeds into the simulation, causing the chosen species to thrive. The installation uses the language of stock markets to initiate a conversation about value systems. Can the frenzy for financial profit be turned into an obsession for environmental concerns?

By designing multimedia experiences and interactive spaces, Jonas Althaus and Martina Huynh (Cream on Chrome) explore new perspectives in the fields of economy, journalism, ecology and emerging technologies. Their new work, The Environmentalist Stock Exchange (ESX), is born out of interest for the valuation of processes and resources that are currently not given enough market value and thus likely subject to exploitation: “We wanted to spend more time thinking about what it is that drives global markets and what does ‘value’ really mean in today’s economy, also given the recent hype of people investing in cryptocurrencies or NFTs.”
Winning the STRP ACT Award enabled the very start of this project: “With the grant we could study the way stock markets as well as eco systems function. This formed the basis for the Environmentalist trading simulation which we are currently developing.” Above all, the duo was fascinated by combining stock markets and ecosystems and discovered new perspectives on how they are similar, as well as where they differ completely: “The challenge for us was that both themes are fairly complex in nature. Especially seeking out and diagramming specific ecosystems can be bottomless – so we are constantly striking the balance of being true to the science, while simplifying information in order not to overload the audience.”
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Jonas and Martina are very excited to activate the outcome of their work at STRP Festival 2022 in the form of an interactive installation: “We are curious to see what happens when the audience plays the trading simulation. Will the well-being of the simulated ecosystems improve or deteriorate when players start investing? What trading strategy will most people go for? Nature conservation or profit?”
For Cream on Chrome, the ACT Award formed a great opportunity to kickstart a new work. In their case, Jonas and Martina picked up an initial interest, inspired by the theme of the call – lending a new spin to their idea. Are you an artist and do you want to be supported in developing new work too? You have until February 4, 2022 to apply your work for the ACT Award 2023!
In our series Let’s ACT, we introduce our ACT (Award for Creative Technology) 2022 winners and follow them in the stages to their final work at STRP Festival 2022.