Hillel Fischer Traumberg (b. 1982 London), a high frequency algorithmic
trader in the city of London, experienced a semi-hallucinogenic
state one day whilst staring fixedly at the High Frequency Trading graph
patterns illuminating the bank's trading room walls. After several
such experiences Traumberg got the idea of experimenting with psychoactive
drugs and eventually managed to procure some online from a supplier
influence of the drugs, which he took at first in small doses, began
to alter Traumberg's perceptions of the trading algorithms he was
working with and he gradually began to feel more at one with them
as if he actually inhabited the code. He felt himself becoming part
of an infinite swirl of global data as the algorithms became transformed
in his mind into technicolour fluxing entities, travelling through
and beyond his body in holographic space and time.
his spare moments Traumberg started researching the ethnopharmacology
of a hundred or so known and documented psychoactive plants across
the world, exploring their historical ritual uses and functions
in shamanic healing, in magic, religion, sex, divination, protection,
modern medicine and in mental enhancement.
became curious about their chemical composition and studied the
compounds in each plant which produce the psychoactive effects.
He made lists of the active substances, the alkaloids, and wondered whether inserting
their molecular formulae into the codes of his trading algorithms
would have a similar effect as the drugs themselves have on the
human brain, i.e. whether they would in any way enhance or alter
the trading performance of the algorithms.
when the presence of these rogue algorithms came to light at the
bank his bosses traced the problems back to Traumberg. Suspecting
a nervous breakdown due to the stresses of the job they released
him from his employment. With his substantial savings Traumberg
moved to a penthouse apartment on the other side of town at Embassy
Gardens, a New York Meatpacking District styled riverside complex recently
constructed around the new U.S. Embassy in Nine Elms on the southside
of the Thames.
From his apartment Traumberg had a 360 degree view which took in
the US Embassy, the New Covent Garden Flower Market, the green glass
edifice of the MI6 building just beyond St George Wharf, the Houses
of Parliament and the city of London further to the east.
mornings Traumberg went for a stroll around his new neighbourhood.
From the local flower market he built up a collection of plants
with supposed psychoactive properties which soon filled his living
room shelves and penthouse roof garden.
day, staring at the list he had compiled of the botanical names of
his plants he decided to conduct a gematria experiment. Using his
rudimentary knowledge of the Hebrew language, gained during his school
days, Traumberg made numerical experiments translating the botanical
names of psychoactive plants into phonetic Hebrew and then deriving
their numerical equivalents.
discovered that, for example, Mandrake, (Mandragora officinarum)
had a gematria value of 970. Adding together the 9 the 7 and the
0 made 16 and then adding the 1 and the 6 made 7.
copy of the Financial Times on his desk prompted him one day to check
the numerical equivalents of the plants against the top companies
in the FT Global 500 index.
found that the two final numbers for Mandrake, 16 and 7, corresponded
to Petro China and Wells Fargo which came 16th and 7th respectively
in the FT index.
compiled a gematria chart of all the plants, listing their botanical
names alongside their global companies equivalents. He then developed
an algorithm that would trawl the internet collecting images of
the groups of psychoactive plants which corresponded to each company.
by the botanical illustrations of Ernst Haeckel, which he had loved
as a child, Traumberg reprogrammed the algorithm to collate and
transform these images into works with a similar style and format.
by the artistic results he recalled a summer holiday he'd taken
in 2013 to Venice with some banker friends. One of them, an avid
art collector, had dragged them around an exhibition in a park on
the lagoon and he had seen masses of weird coloured drawings in
one of the many buildings, which were said to have been made by
artists who had received no formal training.
brought to mind a work trip several years previously, to UBS in
Bern, Switzerland. The Swiss bank had taken them on a free afternoon
to a museum where he had seen works by a supposed madman. He looked
it up online, the guy was called Adolf Wölfli.
who by now had become obsessed with the forms and structures of the
plants themselves, as well as all the data he was collating about them,
began, under the influence of the various psychoactive drugs in his
possession, to spend his afternoons making a vast series of drawings.
Under the hypnotic influence of Wölfli he transformed himself into an
'outsider' artist. He developed a fantasy of himself as a kind of
techno-shaman, transmuting the spirituality of the universe and the
hallucinogenic nature of capital into new artforms.
day a banker friend, the art collector from the Venice trip, paid
him a social visit and was astonished to see Traumberg's new apartment
filled with strange plants and drawings. On a subsequent visit he
took along a top art dealer who invited Traumberg to show the works
at his London gallery. Traumberg, in the throes of a hallucinogenic
trip, agreed to the offer. Later in the year the dealer put on an
exhibition and all the works were sold out, primarily to bankers,
oligarchs and to some of the corporations featured in the works.
was unaffected by this turn of events, his primary concern being to
discover whether the realities opened up to him by psychoactive plants
were arbitrary hallucinations or whether they indeed, as many had
suggested, lifted the brain's filter, opening the portal to what lay
beyond our everyday perceptions of reality necessary for survival; the
holographic universe perhaps?
Traumberg spent his days wondering whether his experiences were real or
imaginary, whether they originated in his unconscious or came from
another dimension. He wondered about the nature of consciousness and
whether it existed outside the brain/body. Was consciousness perhaps
the ultimate organising principle of the universe, merely reflected by
the brain in a limited and distorted way? Was consciousness maybe a
giant algorithm? And where was the universe in this algorithm?
Based on his experience with high frequency trading algorithms
Traumberg decided to develop a new algorithm to test these ideas.
A brain thinking about a brain. Consciousness thinking about
consciousness. An algorithm trying to return information about another
algorithm. A brain trying to develop an algorithm about an algorithm
about a universe of which it is a part or perhaps a whole or perhaps
HFT The Gardener
High Frequency Trading (HFT)
Hillel Fischer Traumberg (HFT) (en. ToPraise Fisherman DreamMountain)