Fear and Greed references a stock market index term that quantifies what it believes to be the two main emotions that drive the market. The portfolio explores histories that span over 380 years with the first recorded market bubble and crash called “Tulipomania” that marked the birth of global modern capitalism to today’s mass adoption of blockchain technology epitomised by Bitcoin as a pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Bitcoin has consistently been derogotorily called a tulip bubble by traditional finance institutions despite being the best performing asset in the last decade with 9,000,000% rise.
Bitcoin was conceptualized after the 2008 financial crisis when the US government printed trillions of dollars in an attempt to resuscitate the economy. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the global recession into what could be a depression, spurring centralised bankers to print money into the trillions, creating a fear of hyperinflation, diluting purchasing power, and leading to an exodus of dollars into other assets — such as Bitcoin.
Blockchain, a decentralised ledger system, is what underpins the existence of cryptocurrency, making it near impossible to counterfeit, thus ensuring a highly reliable system of authenticity. In 2021, the traditional financial institutions are ‘panic buying’ Bitcoin, signalling a monetary revolution as they respond to a potential collapse of the dollar and its status as the world reserve currency.
Cheung uses a digital sorting algorithm to non-destructively reorganise photographic pixels to metaphorically suggest rhyming histories that he calls ‘digital sands of time.’ In an increasingly digital age that reconfigures our perceptions of reality into a state of constant flux, Cheung is compelled to bear witness to historic and revolutionary moments of humanity. Interwoven within these historical timelines and technological processes are the human conditions of what it means to exist within these cycles of histories to meditate on the past, present, and futures about who we are and what we can become.