Simon Denny
The Founder’s Paradox

18 November — 22 December 2017

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Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Operation, 2017, resin, polystyrene, New Era cap, Adidas mesh long-sleeved t-shirt, Nike Free footwear, acrylic paint, gaming cable, wood, Apple earbud headphones, customised T800 Terminator 2: Judgement Day figurine, fidget spinner, iPhone 5, Kindle Paper, various New Zealand coins, novelty Bitcoin ornamental coins, custom lanyard, nootropic powder in plastic zip-lock bag, Nike Bootstraps, Closed Crate Size 480 x 2040 x 680mm

Simon Denny, Fourth Way Silhouette Jenga Display Prototype / New Zealand Project Sovereign Individual Jenga XXL Box Overprint, 2017, Display Prototype dismantled: (2x) 1900 x 500 x 10; 500 x 500 x 20mm; Installed: 1900 x 700 x 700; cardboard pieces: 700 x 300 x 240mm
Box Overprint 1600 x 1100 x 40mm

Simon Denny, Fourth Way Silhouette Jenga Display Prototype / New Zealand Project Sovereign Individual Jenga XXL Box Overprint, 2017, Display Prototype dismantled: (2x) 1900 x 500 x 10; 500 x 500 x 20mm; Installed: 1900 x 700 x 700; cardboard pieces: 700 x 300 x 240mm
Box Overprint 1600 x 1100 x 40mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Game of Life: Collective vs Individual Board Game Display Prototype / Game of Life: Collective vs Individual Rules, 2017, customised Das Spiel des Lebens game pieces, 3D prints, UV print on Butler Finish aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, customised LED lamps, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas / UV print on canvas, 1050 x 1030 x 1030mm

Simon Denny, Game of Life: Collective vs Individual | Das Spiel des Lebens Box Lid Overprint, 2017, UV print on unfolded Das Spiel des Lebens board game box lid, 650 x 450mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Founders New Zealand, Seasteading, Moon, Mars Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Founders Resource Hexagons Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Founders Decaying Earth Board Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Ascent Hero Portrait Projection (Med Fendrel), 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1250 x 900mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Ascent – Above the Nation State Board Game Display Prototype, 2017, Customised “Descent – Journeys in the Dark” game pieces, UV print on Butler Finish Aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, LEDs, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas, 105 x 103 x 103

Simon Denny, Ascent – Above the Nation State Board Game Display Prototype (detail), 2017, Customised “Descent – Journeys in the Dark” game pieces, UV print on Butler Finish Aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, LEDs, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas, 105 x 103 x 103

Simon Denny
The Founder’s Paradox

18 November — 22 December 2017

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The Founder’s Paradox uses the framework of gaming to reflect on competing political visions for New Zealand’s future within a global climate of uncertainty and changing social relations. In an increasingly fractured and fractious world, the “neoliberal status quo” in New Zealand is starting to be questioned at both ends of the political spectrum.

On one side is the tech-libertarian vision embodied in the ideas of super-investor Peter Thiel, who became a New Zealand citizen in 2011. Thiel’s beliefs in individual freedom and monopoly capitalism have been central to his rise in Silicon Valley and to his support of Donald Trump. His business-minded worldview is heavily influenced by Christian philosophy, The Lord of the Rings, and a libertarian text from 1997 called The Sovereign Individual: How To Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State. Thiel has also recently bought 193 hectares of land in Wanaka, and invested in some of New Zealand’s leading tech companies.

The other side is expressed in The New Zealand Project, by Oxford-based writer Max Harris. Harris’s book argues that neoliberalism has failed New Zealand, turning it into a society in which individual interests are rewarded and politicians have become economic managers rather than social visionaries. Harris proposes that our future depends on embracing care, creativity, and community, so that we create a fairer country through the processes of redistribution, collectivism and decolonisation.

The Founder’s Paradox explores these competing utopian visions, using the language and logic of board games. The Thiel/Sovereign Individual worldview is examined in “world-building” fantasy games in which heroes must accumulate resources, complete quests and eliminate their enemies. Harris’s ideas are put into play via games that involve physical dexterity and a certain amount of cooperation – Twister, and Giant Jenga. A version of The Game of Life, in which players face several forks in the road, bridges the two: giving players the chance to choose between the path of collective action, or press on towards individual sovereignty.

 
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Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Operation, 2017, resin, polystyrene, New Era cap, Adidas mesh long-sleeved t-shirt, Nike Free footwear, acrylic paint, gaming cable, wood, Apple earbud headphones, customised T800 Terminator 2: Judgement Day figurine, fidget spinner, iPhone 5, Kindle Paper, various New Zealand coins, novelty Bitcoin ornamental coins, custom lanyard, nootropic powder in plastic zip-lock bag, Nike Bootstraps, Closed Crate Size 480 x 2040 x 680mm

Simon Denny, Fourth Way Silhouette Jenga Display Prototype / New Zealand Project Sovereign Individual Jenga XXL Box Overprint, 2017, Display Prototype dismantled: (2x) 1900 x 500 x 10; 500 x 500 x 20mm; Installed: 1900 x 700 x 700; cardboard pieces: 700 x 300 x 240mm Box Overprint 1600 x 1100 x 40mm

Simon Denny, Fourth Way Silhouette Jenga Display Prototype / New Zealand Project Sovereign Individual Jenga XXL Box Overprint, 2017, Display Prototype dismantled: (2x) 1900 x 500 x 10; 500 x 500 x 20mm; Installed: 1900 x 700 x 700; cardboard pieces: 700 x 300 x 240mm Box Overprint 1600 x 1100 x 40mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Game of Life: Collective vs Individual Board Game Display Prototype / Game of Life: Collective vs Individual Rules, 2017, customised Das Spiel des Lebens game pieces, 3D prints, UV print on Butler Finish aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, customised LED lamps, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas / UV print on canvas, 1050 x 1030 x 1030mm

Simon Denny, Game of Life: Collective vs Individual | Das Spiel des Lebens Box Lid Overprint, 2017, UV print on unfolded Das Spiel des Lebens board game box lid, 650 x 450mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Founders New Zealand, Seasteading, Moon, Mars Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Founders Resource Hexagons Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Founders Decaying Earth Board Projection, 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1660 x 1660mm

Simon Denny, Ascent Hero Portrait Projection (Med Fendrel), 2017, Royalpainting.com commissioned painting (oil on canvas), UV print on canvas, custom stretchers, 1250 x 900mm

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, The Founder’s Paradox, 2017, Installation View

Simon Denny, Ascent – Above the Nation State Board Game Display Prototype, 2017, Customised “Descent – Journeys in the Dark” game pieces, UV print on Butler Finish Aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, LEDs, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas, 105 x 103 x 103

Simon Denny, Ascent – Above the Nation State Board Game Display Prototype (detail), 2017, Customised “Descent – Journeys in the Dark” game pieces, UV print on Butler Finish Aluminium Dibond, UV print on card, LEDs, moulded electronic wiring, Dell PowerEdge 1950 server casing, Linoleum, MDF, powder coated steel, Plexiglas, 105 x 103 x 103