opti-ME* Online Commission: Sascha Pohflepp: "The Currency of Living Matter (Every Thought Is Sunlight)"

23rd May. 2014

As part of opti-ME*s investigation into embodied value, identity economics, and human exchange, artist Sascha Pohflepp presents a speculative executive toy modeled on the body’s very own ‘molecular currency’.

Converting organic into digital ‘money’, he maps in a closed circuit the energy needed for the bio-mechanical production of five US dollars worth of Bitcoins – the market value of the digital rendering of the molecule itself.

Sascha PohfleppThe Currency of Living Matter (Every Thought is Sunlight)

“A movement is produced on the surface of the globe that results from the circulation of energy at this point in the universe [...] The play of living matter in general [is] involved in the movement of light of which it is the result.”

– Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share


Before we learned to harness electricity all work was done by bodies; consuming, storing and expending energy that comes from a star called Sun. Within the body’s trading floor of cells, the molecular currency of energy transaction is the coenzyme Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Each human body is a vast stock exchange of such chemical energy, turning over its own weight in ATP each day.

Drawing inspiration from Georges Bataille’s writings on flows of energy and excess, the Currency of Living Matter re-imagines a model of the ATP molecule, bought on the internet for five US dollars, as a desk accessory for biotech executives of the near future.

Presented online as part of opti-ME* is a 3-minute excerpt from a 440-hour computer simulation. 440 hours is the approximate amount of time in which a human body interacting with a physical version of the object would turn over an amount of energy equal to that required for a Bitcoin mining rig to generate five US dollars.*

* Based on a fictionally under-clocked Avalon ASIC #2 mining rig drawing 100W, at an exchange rate of $449.36 per Bitcoin, at a difficulty of 8000872135.9682 as of May 10th 2014