Feral Trade, Kate Rich
Kate Rich is a Bristol-based artist & trader. For the past 12 years she has been radio/video engineer with Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT), an information agency servicing the Information Age. The Bureau has developed an array of information-handling devices, most notoriously the Bit Plane (miniature spy plane navigated over the Silicon Valley California); the Suicide Box (vertical
motion detection device installed in range of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco); and the Antiterror Line, a telephone database for collecting live news of civil liberties attacks in the wake of September 11 - see http://bureauit.org for more
Since 2001, Kate has been bar manager at the Cube Microplex (bristol UK), an experimental cinema & artspace: http://cubecinema.com
At the presentation in New Media Center_kuda.org, Kate Rich presented her project Feral Trade. Feral Trade is a public artistic experiment that is involved in trading goods through social networks. The first Feral Trade was established in 2003, by importing 30 kg of coffee from farmer's collective in San Pedro Nonulaco, El Salvador directly to Cube Microplex theatre in Bristol.
http://sparror.cubecinema.com/feraltrade/coffee.html Kate directly contacted the the manufacturer in u San Salvador that sent the shipment of coffee to Cube. If, for example, this coffee appeared in the chain of supermarkets and wholesales it couldn't compete with the low prices of large distributions of multinational companies, which because of monopoly and their market positions can lower their prices. But if these kind of products (coffee in this case) had small additional info about the place where they are produced, who are the people involved in the process of production and how the chain of distribution looks like, maybe the potential buyers in the supermarkets would go for a bit expensive product.
In this case the manufacturer gets around 70% of the retail price of coffee, while in case of mega-distribution and monopoly of multinational companies the manufacturer gets only 30%. Kate Rich claims that in postindustrial information society, information about product can influence increase of manufacturer's income. Particularly important is agriculture, which has bigger share in the economy (together with services) considering that the share of industrial production in the social product proportionally lowered.
Like her project with San Salvadorom, her trip to from Bristol to Tehran is aiming at exchange of goods through social networks. During May 2005, Kate Rich traveled by train from Bristol to Teheran in order to establish Feral Trade connections in Islamic Republic. In Iran she located the source of fresh Iranian candy so that she will store it in Microplex bar. The trip takes around 2 weeks on the English South West trains, Eurostar, Orient Express, Trans Balkan Express, Bosfor Exspress and Trans Asia Exspress.
Plan is combination of culturological research and kind of practical research of black market. The trip will have several stops, media centers and art organizations that will serve for refreshment and talk about trade, about possibilities of using social and cultural networks as traffic system for distribution of goods.
Route: Bristol, London, Brussels, Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Arad, Sofia, Istanbul, Tehran, Bristol.