While much of the world is still trying to figure out whether Bitcoin is a joke, a conceptual art piece, or the natural next step in globalization and interconnectivity, the artist, philosopher and physics buff Jonathon Keats has taken the concept of virtual currency further into the ether with his new installation beneath Rockefeller Center, “The Quantum Bank.”
Tucked into Engineer’s Office Gallery, a closet-like nook in the bowels of a Rock Center skyscraper, the piece includes a model uranium-fueled ATM with the theoretical ability to make money quantum, thereby creating an endless growth of wealth.
“A quantum particle doesn’t have a definite location unless it’s measured,” Keats told ARTINFO in an email about the project. “It’s everywhere at once, subsisting in a so-called quantum superposition. At the Quantum Bank, our idea is to achieve the same thing with cash.”
When money is deposited into Keats’s ATM, a uranium sphere creates a particle, which rather than being directed to a single destination, is distributed among seven billion different accounts created by Keats. There’s no fee to join the Quantum Bank, and members can collect a quantum dollar made of paper (see above) every time the equivalent of one American dollar is deposited.
The installation consists of simple, DIY materials. A stack of ledger paper, a pen, a pile for deposits, one for withdrawals, and one for creating new quantum dollars sit on a shelf above a rectangular box covered in tinfoil, and a simple, but inexplicable, rod-like object on the floor.
“The Quantum Bank” will be open during regular business hours until Thursday. Follow Keats’s directions to find it: Enter the Simon & Schuster building on Sixth Avenue between 48th and 49th streets. Walk east, to the far back of the lobby, past the two security desks (no need to show ID), make a right and go down the stairs to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs make a left and go through the double doors and down the short flight of stairs.
— Sara Roffino
(Photo by the author.)