Alejandro Guijarro - Momentum (2010-12)
“The artist travelled to the great quantum mechanics institutions of the world and, using a large-format camera, photographed blackboards as he found them. Momentum displayed the photographs in life-size.
Before he walked into a lecture hall Guijarro had no idea what he might find. He began by recording the blackboard with the minimum of interference. No detail of the lecture hall was included, the blackboard frame was removed and we are left with a surface charged with abstract equations. Effectively these are documents. Yet once removed from their institutional beginnings the meaning evolves. The viewer begins to appreciate the equations for their line and form. Color comes into play and the waves created by the blackboard eraser suggest a vast landscape or galactic setting. The formulas appear to illustrate the worlds of Quantum Mechanics. What began as a precise lecture, a description of the physicist’s thought process, is transformed into a canvas open to any number of possibilities.”
1. Cambridge (2011)
2. Stanford (2012)
3. Berkeley I (2012)
4. Berkeley II (2012)
5. Oxford (2011)
On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.
On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?
Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.
More than that, everything I’ve heard about S&P’s demands suggests that it’s talking nonsense about the US fiscal situation. The agency has suggested that the downgrade depended on the size of agreed deficit reduction over the next decade, with $4 trillion apparently the magic number. Yet US solvency depends hardly at all on what happens in the near or even medium term: an extra trillion in debt adds only a fraction of a percent of GDP to future interest costs, so a couple of trillion more or less barely signifies in the long term. What matters is the longer-term prospect, which in turn mainly depends on health care costs.
So what was S&P even talking about? Presumably they had some theory that restraint now is an indicator of the future — but there’s no good reason to believe that theory, and for sure S&P has no authority to make that kind of vague political judgment.
In short, S&P is just making stuff up — and after the mortgage debacle, they really don’t have that right.
So this is an outrage — not because America is A-OK, but because these people are in no position to pass judgment.
“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.”
Well, yeah. I just wish you had the same “opinion” of the mortgage-backed securities back in 2008. + + +