The Colour Economy: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor

What if pixels were free? What if they could trade their computer-given red, green, and blue values in pursuit of a profit?

The Colour Economy imagines an artificial economy of pixels, in which individual 'traders' exchange colour. In this pixel performance, the seed image creates a region in the bottom right which is wealthier than the regions surrounding it:


As the economy develops, this wealthy population separates itself physically from the traders with little colour capital.

Here are three video renders of the system unfolding:

The Colour Economy: Can’t we all just get along? from blprnt on Vimeo.

The Colour Economy: The Gap Between the Rich and the Poor from blprnt on Vimeo.

The Colour Economy: In the end, we will have more important things to worry about from blprnt on Vimeo.

Market conditions fluctuate in each run of the simulation, so though some general things remain constant with each seed image, the performance happens differently every time.

In the first video, we see a large amount of trading activity in the rich sector, which actually moves as a group toward the center of the system. The smaller traders are drawn towards the action, trying to make a profit, and are eventually the two groups become one. This system ends up fairly stable, and this particular system ended up running stably for a fairly long time.

Contrast this to the second video, in which the rich and poor groups stay separate for almost the entire life of the economy. Towards the end of the system render, you will see one 'rich' pixel cross the gap to the 'poor' side, where it finds some success. If you watch carefully, you will also see a smaller trader establish itself in the middle of the two groups. This 'middle class' trader causes a flurry of activity as it is able to trade with both groups.

We see this bridging behaviour much more clearly in the third video. You can clearly see several traders establishing themselves in the middle of the two groups. Eventually, this activity leads the two groups to merge, but only as the situation becomes desparate and intra-group trading has almost totally ceased.

The Colour Economy is a project that I have been working on for a while now and I am happy to be able to share some of the results. More videos, stills, and the applet itself will be released over the coming weeks. The Colour Economy is built with Processing v. 0135

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