Landscapes of Global Capital
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NYSE05-00The NYSE sign wars ad from the year 2000 opened with what appears to be a spiritual scene symbolically front and center. The ad opens on a mountaintop with a single dark figure, arms spread open wide to embrace the possibilities of heaven and earth. Though not a single word is said about matters spiritual, that is precisely the framing aura that this ad cultivates.

While the text of the ad - its claim to discursive rationality - can be read as script upon the screen, there is no corporate voiceover. Instead there is the incessant singing voice, insistently repeating over and over, "RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW. HERE, HERE, HERE..." The music seems to have a soaring tone even as it is aggressive - almost blaring. It becomes relentlessly imperative in its connotation.

Welcome to the center of the financial world
Home to 3000 of the world's best companies
With an $18 trillion global market value
The most advanced trading system ever
Network NYSE
Thanks to $2 billion invested in technologies
Even a new virtual trading floor for investors
NYSE MarkeTrac
We've added 2000 new companies in the last decade
Welcome to the gateway to the global economy
Welcome to Network NYSE
Welcome to today's New York Stock Exchange
NYSE - the world puts its stock in us

Shall we take the advertiser seriously in suggesting that this imagery of a man (a contemporary Moses), arms outspread on a mountaintop where heaven meets earth, represents the center of the financial world? That's a lot of poetic license. It certainly stretches credulity if we take it literally.

But what if we consider it as a metaphor that stands for that space where revelation occurs? Or, that space where control over heaven and earth can be ours? Or, could this be a visual metaphor for the scale and grandeur of the universal market? Could this scene represent the commodification of the world?

One can even imagine a slightly darker, more Faustian moment here - empowered to control the world, he awaits the commands of those in the marketplace of capital. Is this the work of Mephistopheles disguised in the form of the most advanced technology?

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Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey