The Invisible Hand

A yellow sculptural block emblazoned with red Chinese characters stands on an illuminated white plinth, with a video still of three seated male-presenting figures projected onto the wall behind


28 June 2019 -
04 August 2019


4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

181-187 Hay St, Haymarket

Curatorial Assistant: Isabel Rouch

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The Invisible Hand considers how digital platform technologies are exploiting technological convenience to co-opt personal data in an uncertain zero-sum game. With work from Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan, this exhibition explores current and projected complications and contradictions in the digital realm that increasingly oscillate between technological evangelism and scepticism.

In 1991, the World Wide Web creator, Tim Berners-Lee, developed the first website at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then, over one billion websites have proliferated across the globe, with 2.5 trillion Internet searches made every year. Everyday our connected devices generate some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, creating a rapidly expanding field of human communication and providing unparalleled insights into our lives. The rise of global platform companies—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Rakuten, Tencent and Naver among others—are largely underpinning this mass connectivity, with Facebook alone weaving together over 700 billion friendships across the globe.

However, from search results to self-publishing platforms, these global corporate powers are logging every digital click, like, share and scroll made on these supposedly free services—selling on this consumer information to third parties and advertisers. While this business model has produced mass convenience, connectivity and information sharing, a closer examination reveals a vast information inequity between users and these providers. Nowhere are these invisible computing forces more present than in the hyper-connected East Asia region, where household internet penetration and use is at its global highest. In this region, platform technology companies have the power to alter the course of history, in the same way recent technologically-led scandals like Cambridge Analytica have manipulated contemporary politics in America, Thailand and India, and the coordinated cyber-attacks of public health records loom over Singapore.

Against this dystopic information landscape, The Invisible Hand examines our ever evolving digital realm with careful focus on the East Asia region, a place at the bleeding edge of this technological frontier. Exploring the existential threat of Big Tech through a series of commissioned and recent works the artists each untangle the networked rhythms of our age, with careful allusion to science, public policy, economics and share price. Through these meditations The Invisible Hand presents artistic agitation to the arena of public debate—providing new perspectives, understandings and predications that enable us to better understand our place in this newly formed digital battleground.


A gallery glass front with the decal that reads 'The Invisible Hand' looks into a space with a mound of electrical cords on the floor and two hanging television screens from the ceiling above. A face with closed eyes is displayed on one of the screens while the other screen is overlapped on the face's mouth as both screens are kissing
Two television monitors are suspended from a gallery ceiling, one broadcasting a kissing face overlapped with the other television monitor. Cords from the monitors hang down into a pile of electrical cords on the gallery floor.
A femme-presenting figure in a black down jacket and her hair in a bun looks into a webcam broadcasting an Instagram livestream of her face onto two television screens mounted on a white gallery wall
A laser-cut artwork with stencils and numbers encased is mounted on a white gallery wall
A yellow sculptural block emblazoned with red Chinese characters stands on an illuminated white plinth, with a video still of hands projected onto the wall behind.
A yellow sculptural block airbrushed with the red Chinese character for 'Battery', situated on an illuminated white plinth
Two figures in black stand in an art gallery. One has his hand on a clear perspex plinth where a large scroll wheel is embedded. He looks at the two vertical LED screens in front of him. The other figure looks at a twisted platinum sculpture on a reflective plinth.
A male-presenting figure in black looks at two LED screens in front of him, with his right hand on a large scroll wheel embedded into a clear perspex plinth. The left LED screen depicts an 8-bit computer game graphics scene
A twisted platinum sculpture with a neon-lit computer system built inside. It stands on a reflective plinth
Close-up of the neon-lit computer system inside a twisted platinum metal sculpture. The computer system includes a motherboard labelled 'Zenith', installed over two graphic disks with the name 'RADEON' lit up in red on each one


Top image: The Invisible Hand (installation view), 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, July 2019. Front: Simon Denny, Shenzen Mass Entrepeneurial Huaqiangbei Market Counter in OCT Theme Park Style – Battery, 2017, airbush on synthetic plaster, illuminated plinth, 125 x 132 x 68 cm; Back wall projection: Simon Denny, Real Mass Entrepreneurship, 2017, video, 14:23; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artists and Fine Arts, Sydney.