-162C Trading Power (Tokyo)

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At -162°C natural gas becomes liquid, reducing in volume by a factor of over 600, the key innovation that makes it an economically viable trade commodity. LNG is Qatar’s main export, with Japan being its largest customer and a primary source of revenue for this small yet influential gulf nation. Although primarily economic, this exchange impacts the culture, lifestyle, and geopolitics of both countries. -162 Trading Power is a visual research project that explores the aspects of the unique relationship between Qatar and Japan, which has been a catalyst for growth in both countries.

Bilateral relations between the two countries began in 1972, and the first LNG shipment reached Japanese shores on January 10, 1997. In 2011 Japan’s demand for LNG increased significantly due to the Fukushima disaster and the consequent shut down of most nuclear plants in the country. The need for energy impelled Qatar to step forward and offer Japan large quantities of LNG at competitive prices, a trade that continued into 2019.

To make this information tangible, a kinetic installation consisting of an array of 40 printers suspended from the ceiling was created. The array is controlled by custom software that choreographs the printing of text and images extracted from the internet and synthesized into graphic compositions. The resulting performance ebbs and flows at varying intervals, exploring the constant exchange that feeds the economies of both Qatar and Japan.

The project was conceived as two exhibitions taking place in each nation's capital city, Tokyo and Doha, to exemplify the concept of exchange between the countries. The installations occurred in sequence, three months apart, and explored the economic, social, and cultural implications of the energy trade between these distant neighbors.

The exhibitions were the result of a collaboration between faculty and students at VCUarts Qatar, Texas A&M University In Qatar, and Tokyo Metropolitan University’s AIIT. The work was made possible with support from the VCUarts Qatar / Qatar Foundation Faculty Research Grant program, The Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology at Tokyo Metropolitan University, W+K+ Tokyo, Tasmeem Doha, Qatar Museums / Doha Fire Station, and Arakawa Tokyo.

A collection of 162 printed outcomes from the exhibitions were compiled in an eponymous artist book. The book was published by Water with Water in Doha Qatar. The artist publication was grant supported by Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar and Qatar Foundation.