Currency WSHTF (2016), hypothetical landscape


Google Street View, Lat: 38.211970, Long: -119.011487


Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish

Collaborators Loney Abrams and Johnny Stanish share a fascination with how fringe subcultures cope with stresses brought on by the Anthropocene. For SCREEN_, they produced a hypothetical marketing email promoting products for the self-treatment of electromagnetic hypersensitivity. At Knockdown Center, they exhibited a “war game terrain board” for a future terraformed Mars. At Sadie Halie Projects, they proposed a DIY solution for WiFi allergies: handmade paper whose ingredients include the Financial Times (shredded and pulped) and supposed wifi-blocking materials like chrysanthemum buds, rose petals, copper foil, copper wire, bee pollen, vitamin B6, ORMEs (Orbitally Rearranged Monatomic Elements), dandelion, and milk thistle roots.

For Tête-à-tête’s debut exhibition, the artists turn their attention to doomsday preppers, a cultural group that copes with fears of annihilation through personal accumulation---purchasing hundreds of cans of soup, stockpiling guns, etc. By layering a hypothetical landscape of the artists’ design onto the Google Map street view of Bodie State Historic Park in California, Abrams and Stanish imagine a world WSHTF (When Shit Hits the Fan), an extremist term preppers use to express the inevitable onset of apocalyptic conditions brought on by climate change.

Now a ghost town, Bodie State Historic Park was once a gold mining community at the forefront of technological advancement. In the prepper mindset, the town’s abandonment represents not only the past, but also the future. Once generating money through its activity, it now generates revenue through its arrested decay, in the form of admission fees to tourists. The town’s source of value has greatly shifted over time, just as the preppers predict the values of commodities will. According to online prepper forums, the six most valuable items WTSHF will be vodka, toilet paper, soup, gold, silver, and land--currency the artists have superimposed on Bodie Park’s 3D street view to create a prophetic panorama.

As a vestige of America's mythologized Old West, the park’s image was fabricated long before the artists’ digital manipulations; their version of the terrain is no less real than any Google Map image. After all, a street view is only ever a single, static representation of a space constantly changing under the duress of entropy--a tendency towards degradation that perhaps buzzes in preppers’ ears the loudest.