Relative Strength

Relative Strength

When the "human factor" is talked about, it does not usually mean something good. The expression conjures up a system breakdown or train accident. Once again somebody has not functioned properly. The equation is old but is nevertheless still topical: the human is a cog in the works of the system. A company, so it is said, is always only as good as its staff.

Accordingly the "human factor" is also reflected in the unsteady graphs which represent stock exchange values. Their jagged lines are reminiscent of those of an ECG – or also, as Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond mention, of the drawings made by the pulse measuring machine developed by Etienne-Jules Marey in 1878. This shows the complex physical processes to which humans are exposed – as the stock exchange diagrams sum up complex economic processes in terse dots or lines.

In their work "Relative Strength" Anderwald + Grond bring together the two categories of norms and (human) individuals. They were struck by the body-related language used in stock exchange charts in financial journals, in which processes or developments are summarised. The lines running across the graphs, intended to show trends, have names such as "shoulder", "head" or "neckline". Others, although they do not refer to parts of the body, evoke associations to bodily, physical or social processes: "resistance zone", "decision zone" or "relative strength" itself signal phases observed over longer periods. The sources for them are, among other things, surveys of brokers and investors who are strongly influenced by psychological factors.

Anderwald + Grond combine these graphs with private photos of people who are busy doing anything but working. A man is standing in a garden with his eyes closed. Another is swimming in a romantic forest lake. A woman is lying in a field. A couple is sitting by a lake and they are obviously just looking into thin air. For the most part they have got away from leisure time stress – precisely in this moment they have become economically worthless: they are not working, they are not consuming and they are also not proudly presenting themselves in the light of their success. The pictures represent exactly the opposite of those photos which normally accompany the jagged stock exchange graphs in financial journals: pictures of happy employees – because they are successful – who besides this also still have good private lives. Here it is also not too tragic if the stock prices pictured alongside do not exceed themselves: nevertheless, juxtaposed with such images they suggest confidence. With their photos from their private archive Anderwald + Grond break with such promises of an accelerating trend and replace them with a contemplative component. However, the graphs also call up associations with medical or psychological analyses and could therefore also stand for the condition of the people pictured.

In terms of form, the stock exchange prices are also interesting because they are always only an extract. The abrupt breaking of the line implies its continuation. As a potential continuing picture it automatically refers to the next picture and is related to the anticipation of what can be expected from Etienne-Jules Marey's pulse measuring machine. In the movement of the passers-by one poster unreels after another. Contemplation replaces progression – a stop-and-go, the typical type of urban movement. Anderwald + Grond have chosen an almost cinematic language and thereby also approach the rhythm between production and recreation on a formal level.