Image Economies: Ink on Paper - A Material History of Financial Risk at The Warburg Institute

Ruzina Choudhury's picture
March 20, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Economic History / Studies, Humanities

Presented by Professor Maggie Cao, University of North Carolina

20 Mar 2019, 17:30 to 18:30, followed by a drinks reception until 19:30. 

The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0AB

Free and open to all. View more information and book your place:

In 2008, many of us experienced the financial crisis as a steady stream of electronic data—the medium of economic transactions today. This paper examines the material history of financial risk by returning to the first stock market crash, the South Sea Bubble of 1720. In this era of ink on paper, the material artefacts associated with exchange and speculation—bills, receipts, stock tickets, and other mercantile paperwork—became the subject of trompe l’oeil drawings and prints. Over the course of the next century, document-oriented trompe l’oeil pictures surged in popularity during moments of economic uncertainty throughout the Anglophone world. This novel art form, produced by professional clerks embedded in the record-keeping demands of mercantilism, questioned the papered foundations of a global financial revolution. 

Image Economies:
'As money fades into apparent immateriality, the visual aspect of economics becomes more important if we are to avoid overlooking the obscure forces that rule our lives. These lectures re-examine the connections between images and capital, investigating how the former represent, mould and are moulded by economic forces, and how they function like currency themselves, as promissory notes, media of exchange and stores of value.

This lecture is part of a series organised by Tom Wilkinson, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow.

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