High Frequency Geography: Mapping the Materiality of the Global Financial System
This paper focuses on recent directions in my artistic practice exploring the relationship between finance and geography. In the past 15-20 years, the global financial system has come to rely more and more on computer mediated trading practices, known as algorithmic trading. Within this larger field, one area that has generated a particular amount of interest is high frequency trading, where profits hinge on the speed with which algorithms can react to fluctuations in market prices. In a global economic system where activities in Tokyo might affect algorithmic decisions in New Jersey, High Frequency Trading has come up against the fundamental limit of physical reality – the speed of light. This paper describes how trading activities have shifted away from human actors on trading floors towards algorithmic actors inside data centers, with a focus on the underlying infrastructure that these electronic trading exchanges rely on. I frame my research within a discussion of previous works by artists addressing the complex global financial system.