© CryptoFoam

The foam of our economy

Which chains in an ecosystem are visible to us, and which are not?

A few years ago, we saw a new phenomenon emerge in many of the Dutch landscapes we explore in our practice: foam. Different ecosystems, urban and rural, saline and fresh: all have been touched by the same phenomenon.

Foam is delicate and volatile, but it can also pose a serious threat to plants, animals and people. It multiplies itself rapidly and appears or disappears as soon as the wind changes. Our attempts to interpret these foaming waterscapes took shape after an invitation to develop and present a new work on the Tramkade in Den Bosch, in a former cattle feed factory. This industrial heritage site formed a link between the thick foam floating past us in the river, and the intertwined economy and ecosystem of this area with intensive agricultural activities. Once upon a time, this factory produced the protein-rich feed needed to support the Netherlands’ large livestock population, right at the point where three rivers converge for further distribution. Once these proteins are digested and re-enter the water via a diversion, the wind can whisk together a thick, white foam.

Foam here is the by-product of intensification, a direct indication of how our economy and ecology are intertwined. Foam is volatile and worthless on its own, but can it guide our attention to value in the same way other currencies can? Do these floating specks carry value?

In 2021, we created the work CryptoFoam. The work questions our value systems around food and agriculture, looking for new relationships between the economy and ecology. Where in the distant past we used shells as currency, we are now looking at the possibility of an ephemeral, intangible element as foam for our economy. Amidst this industrial heritage, we were looking for a new value system where ecology and economy can become intertwined.

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