The first modern stock exchange was established in 1602 in Amsterdam to trade paper stock certificates of the Dutch East India Company. Stock exchanges have since transformed into complex digital infrastructures spanning the globe. There are now nearly 300 exchanges. In 2018 I began building a database of world stock exchanges based on data obtained from Handbook of World Stock, Derivatives and Commodity Exchanges. At http://automatedfutures.net/map/ you can explore the history of stock exchanges.
Automated Futures is a sensory ethnographic documentary film that illustrates two eras of American economic history by juxtaposing a specialty fiber-optic cable used for high-frequency trading against the decaying infrastructure of the once industrial Rust Belt, emphasizing an eerily parallel detachment from human lives in both of these planetary-scale built environments. The film documents 827 miles of Spread Networks’ flagship dark fiber line through the now post-industrial towns of La Porte, Elkhart, Toledo, Cleveland, Mesopotamia, and Manahoy City. Based on my’s thesis research on the materiality of financial infrastructure, the documentary addresses the operative tension between human agency and technological interdependence within the cultural context of American Independence Day celebrations. Video and audio recordings from the summer of 2013 serve to archive the paradigmatic disjunction between the interests of high finance and the decaying industrial economy, while the structure and soundtrack of the film conspire to question the role of history in the temporal scale of exchange.