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March 15, 2006

Turbulence Commission: "Oil Standard" by Michael Mandiberg


Adding Functional Absurdity to the Mix

Oil Standard is a web browser plug-in that converts all prices from U.S. Dollars into the equivalent value in barrels of crude oil. When you load a web page, the script seamlessly inserts converted prices into the page. As the cost of oil fluctuates on the commodities exchange, prices rise and fall in real-time.

Seeing the cost in oil of a new iPod on Amazon.com, or the balance in your bank account is startling. More than just a play on the concept of the 'Gold Standard,' or the old 'Standard Oil' company, this is a glimpse into the moment when oil will replace (or already replaced) gold as the standard by which we trade all other goods and currencies.

The script is written in Greasemonkey, an official extension for Mozilla Firefox that allows the user to change the look, content, or function of a webpage, by writing client side DHTML into a page. Greasemonkey has primarily been used for very functional tasks: nytimes.com ad blockers, eBay.com auto-sign-in scripts, etc. "Oil Standard" adds some functional absurdity to the mix.

Requires Mozilla Firefox and Greasemonkey script (follow download instructions on site).

"Oil Standard" is a 2006 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. (aka Ether-Ore) for its Turbulence web site. It was made possible with funding from the Jerome Foundation and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


Michael Mandiberg is a conceptual artist, computer programmer and rogue economist who uses the internet, video and performance to explore subjectivity, labor, and commerce. His current work delves into creative appropriations of outsourcing, artistic uses of open API web platforms, and the global dependence on oil. In 2001 he distributed perfect copies of copies on AfterSherrieLevine.com, and put all of his possessions up for sale on Shop Mandiberg. His work has been exhibited at such venues as the New Museum for Contemporary Art, New York City; Ars Electronica Linz, Austria; and the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany. An Assistant Professor at The College of Staten Island/CUNY, Michael lives in, and rides his purple bicycle around Brooklyn.

Posted by jo at March 15, 2006 07:55 AM