University at Buffalo
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Visual Studies

Megan Michalak & Stephanie Rothenberg: “World X Diagnostics” Redux

October 7, 2009  by: Dom

World X Diagnostics

World X Diagnostics Redux, Megan Michalak and Stephanie Rothenberg

New York Electronic Art Festival
Friday, October 9, 2009
7:00pm – 10:00pm
Harvestworks, New York, NY

World X Diagnostics is a revolutionary system that evaluates and diagnoses citizen responses to socio-economic conditions resulting from the global economic meltdown. Public data measuring gross national well being is collected from participating users and translated into real time sound frequencies through programmed algorithms. Through the system’s network, users are able to access the compiled data from their geographical region, as well as from any location on the globe. Real time sound frequencies sonify collective malaise, well being and outrage through a series of durational chords and tones produced by a sound output module. The interpretative data will serve as evaluative material for restructuring global resources following the traumatic collapse.

World X Diagnostics emerged from a coalition of outraged citizens frustrated with government responses to the crisis. Tremors of this global discontent could be found as early as 2000, in protests in France, the US, and the UK where economic students circulated petitions denouncing economics as an “autistic science.” Major newspapers and magazines gave extensive coverage to the students’ struggle launching the “Post-Autistic Economics movement.” Similar criticisms can be found in the Ecological Economics movement that question the sustainability of standard economic practices assuming unlimited growth, expansion, and profit. In contrast organizations such as the New Economics Foundation has developed the Happy Planet Index, which is designed to challenge well- established indices of national development such as the Gross Domestic Planet and the Human Development Index. World X Diagnostic calls upon citizens to reconsider these economic models and imagine future possibilities for reform.

The public launch of World X Diagnostics occured August 13-27, 2009. Ranked the second most stable country in the world by the Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index and 59th on the Happy Planet Index, Finland will be the first country to beta test the system. Finnish users will be able to participate in the survey that inputs user responses at Gallery Titanik in Turku, Finland. The sonic translation of their responses will be heard in New York City at Harvestworks where the sound output module will be located. Using a live Internet stream, the audio will be re-transmitted back to Turku filling Titanik Gallery with sound.

World X Diagnostics has been developed through a 2009 Harvestworks Artist-in-Residence and a Sumu-Studio Residency.

Gallery Titanik/Sumu-Studio Itäinen Rantakatu 8, Turku, Finland

Harvestworks 594-596 Broadway, New York, New York

For further information: Stephanie Rothenberg at, Megan Michalak at

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
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