Gary Zhexi Zhang & Agnes Cameron: The First 10,000 Years

Image: still from The First 10,000 Years courtesy Gary Zhexi Zhang
Image: still from The First 10,000 Years courtesy Gary Zhexi Zhang
Image: still from The First 10,000 Years courtesy Gary Zhexi Zhang
> feels like deja vu…
> huh?
> like we’ve seen this storm before
> we kind of literally have, they’re perturbations of the same effect
> in that case shouldn’t all possible versions be priced in already?
> if all the storms were priced in there’d be no market
> and you’d have to move back into the basement
> lmao no
> this is one future path, but the price movements tell you if there’s another one in the works
> sounds like deja vu to me
> so what happens if the market doesn’t buy in?
> then the risk stays in the ground
> then there’s no insurance
> right. but that never happens, the market finds a way
> anyone for shares in titanic? sailing tomorrow…
> if the price is right :-)
The First 10,000 Years is a digital simulation narrative by Gary Zhexi Zhang and Agnes Cameron comprising a live catastrophe insurance marketplace. Based on statistical climate simulations used by the insurance industry to calculate future catastrophic losses (typically by simulating 10,000 years of speculative global weather activity), The First 10,000 Years is a hurricane observatory, financial exchange and chatroom in which human and non-human players place their wagers in a marketplace for systemic uncertainties.

The work can be accessed at until October 2021.

The First 10,000 Years forms part of fud, a new body of work by Gary Zhexi Zhang - commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Bloc Projects - drawn from the artist's research into the role of insurance in shaping the times and spaces we inhabit. Over the past year, Zhang has been researching the "catastrophe industry", the billion-dollar market for insurance against hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts, priced through climate simulations and financial modelling. Over three episodes, fud explores the catastrophe industry as an elaborate work of science fiction, in which the business of underwriting the earth begins to resemble the shaping of possible worlds.
This 18-month project comprises a digital commission (launching online 16 October 2020), an exhibition at Bloc Projects in Sheffield (April 2021), a residency at Medialab Prado in Madrid (2021) and a publication. A public programme (online and in person) accompanies the project throughout its development, engaging audiences through study groups, workshops and talks.
For more information about the project, click here.
fud forms part of the programme for Ungovernable Machines, Arts Catalyst’s ongoing strand of research investigating the social, political, economic and ecological implications of the intangible networks and systems that govern our daily lives, and the structures of power which underlie them.
fud is supported by the Elephant Trust, The Henry Moore Foundation and Arts Council England.