Artist Projects

Reversal of Fortune

Stephanie Rothenberg

Reversal of Fortune uses the poetic metaphor of a garden and its struggle to survive to explore the complex relationship of economic growth to human life—between the cultural and the organic. The artworks focus on how social media platforms, specifically online crowdfunding, are facilitating new forms of charity-based micro lending. The project includes an interactive garden installation, Garden of Virtual Kinship, and an immersive hanging garden of talking plants, Planthropy. Existing in both the physical and virtual worlds, the plants in Rothenberg’s gardens represent micro loan borrowers and major philanthropic causes whose lifelines are dependent on the charitable actions of social media users. Successful transactions trigger an automated watering system that provides nourishment to the plants, while failed ventures may lead to dying plants. Rothenberg writes, “In the gardens, I wanted to make these exchanges of financial transactions more visible through mapping and visualization. But it was also critical to underscore the human life that is at risk.”


Project Updates

  • As part of the “Reversal of Fortune” project, Stephanie Rothenberg will exhibit “Planthropy,” an illuminated garden of hanging plants that respond aloud to Twitter posts about personal philanthropy. The exhibition titled “Right Here, Right Now” brings together artists selected by seven curators at the forefront of digital art. Visitors will be immersed in an intoxicating and wide array of digitally-influenced work – which challenge perceptions, interactions and understanding of art through the use of emerging digital technology. 

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  • “Reversal of Fortune: Garden of Virtual Kinship” at ZKM Center for Art & Media in the exhibition “Global: Infosphere” in Karlsruhe, Germany opening September 4, 2015 through January 31, 2016. 

  • Exhibited 2nd version of “Reversal of Fortune: Garden of Virtual Kinship” exhibited at 2014 Echo Art Fair and awarded the Juror’s Choice Prize in Buffalo, NY 

  • Moneylab Reader: An Intervention in Digital Economy A publication of the Institute of Networked Cultures My essay “Reversal of Fortune: Visualizing Marketized Philanthropy” has just been published in the this new volume of the MoneyLab Reader which focuses on the implications of the current architecture of global finance and its impact on ever-growing income disparity. View issue here.

  • 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency Awarded a 2014-2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency for further development on “Reversal of Fortune” 

  • Launched May 2015 — “Garden of Virtual Kinship” is featured in curator Xiaoying Juliette Ying’s 4-part series that explores the creative process of artists who utilize new technologies. Watch the interview here.

  • 2013: Reversal of Fortune: Garden of Virtual Kinship receives commissioned exhibition for 2013 Media Cities international conference, taking place at University at Buffalo