Gary Zhexi Zhang

Gary Zhexi Zhang is a visual artist and writer whose work explores social infrastructures, technical histories and conceptual systems. He was born in China, grew up in Birmingham, and is currently based in London. He studied at Glasgow School of Art, Cambridge University, and MIT.

  • Catastrophe Time!

    Gary Zhexi Zhang

    A collection of artists, researchers, and interstitial practitioners explore weird temporalities in finance, technology, and catastrophe.

    Once, financial practitioners plied a hybrid trade as hydrologists, star-gazers, and weather-watchers who sought to discover the natural laws of value and exchange as they did the divine order of an unchanging nature. Today, corporate firms hire trend forecasters and scenario planners to play out strategic fictions in virtual worlds. Hurricane and drought insurance markets offer investment instruments tied to a turbulent climate as a hedge against the risks of the stock market. And for financial astrologers operating on Wall Street, celestial motions provide a cosmic mapping that orients the mood of terrestrial markets.

    Through essays and interviews, Catastrophe Time! pays attention to the conditions of speculative knowledge, whether through modeling or intuition, exploring its pitfalls and its potentials. Traversing a gray zone between rigorous research and operative science fictions, its contributors question how practices of speculation may transform, undermine, and at times exceed, the worlds they set out to model.

    Edited by artist Gary Zhexi Zhang, Catastrophe Time! explores the power of practical fictions—whether currencies, cults or forecasts—in the shaping of fragmented temporalities. By bringing together researchers and writers working at the boundaries of temporal practices, including Diann Bauer, Philip Grant, Chiara di Leone, William Kherbek, Klara Kofen, Kei Kreutler, Suhail Malik, and Bassem Saad, this urgent volume seeks to make sense of the unraveling moment in which we live.

    • Paperback $21.95
  • Against Reduction

    Against Reduction

    Designing a Human Future with Machines

    Noelani Arista, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Vafa Ghazavi, Suzanne Kite, Cathryn Klusmeier, Jason Edward Lewis, Archer Pechawis, Jaclyn Sawyer, Gary Zhexi Zhang, and Snoweria Zhang

    Provocative, hopeful essays imagine a future that is not reduced to algorithms.

    What is human flourishing in an age of machine intelligence, when many claim that the world's most complex problems can be reduced to narrow technical questions? Does more computing make us more intelligent, or simply more computationally powerful? We need not always resist reduction; our ability to simplify helps us interpret complicated situations. The trick is to know when and how to do so. Against Reduction offers a collection of provocative and illuminating essays that consider different ways of recognizing and addressing the reduction in our approach to artificial intelligence, and ultimately to ourselves.

    Inspired by a widely read manifesto by Joi Ito that called for embracing the diversity and irreducibility of the world, these essays offer persuasive and compelling variations on resisting reduction. Among other things, the writers draw on Indigenous epistemology to argue for an extended “circle of relationships” that includes the nonhuman and robotic; cast “Snow White” as a tale of AI featuring a smart mirror; point out the cisnormativity of security protocol algorithms; map the interconnecting networks of so-called noncommunicable disease; and consider the limits of moral mathematics. Taken together, they show that we should push back against some of the reduction around us and do whatever is in our power to work toward broader solutions.

    • Paperback $20.00


  • Deliquescing


    Steve Bishop and Anna Gritz

    The publication Deliquescing accompanies Steve Bishop's 2018–19 solo exhibition at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Both the exhibition and publication reflect a body of research that focuses on the fragility of memory and the potential for its preservation, defying the gradual breakdown of matter through the effects of time.

    The lion's mane mushroom is sought after for its medicinal properties, known for protecting and repairing the mind and memory. Within KW, the artist reconstructed the exact conditions needed to cultivate the mushroom. Its medicinal properties were abstracted and repeated in the space of the gallery—the mushroom held in perfect stasis so that it wouldn't lapse into the entropic process known as deliquescing. Bishop's video work Deliquescing is paired with this regulated climate of cultivation: slow-panning HD shots study an abandoned Canadian mining town, maintained in a Sisyphean fashion by an unseen caretaker, homes still heated, bucolic front yards suspended from entropy, empty storefronts frozen, any sign of decay routinely swept away. This extreme stillness is randomly interrupted by the dashing of an animal, the only “aliveness” that remains.

    This publication continues Bishop's research into the lion's mane mushroom and the abandoned town in Canada, including video stills capturing this hauntingly beautiful place as well as photo documentation of the installations at KW. An interview of the artist with KW curator Anna Gritz is featured alongside essays by Gary Zhexi Zhang on a computer program that functions as an archive of “lists of lists”; Orit Gat on her exchanges with Bishop about the phobia of time, jazz standards, and the emotional weight of kitsch; and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing on the foreign-borne diseases that plague native tree cultures.

    ContributorsSteve Bishop, Orit Gat, Anna Gritz, Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Gary Zhexi Zhang

    Copublished with KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

    • Paperback $27.00