On 29 January 2009 at 2.25 in the afternoon Michael Najjar stood on the summit of Mount Aconcagua, at 6,962 meters the highest mountain on the American continent and the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. The photographic material gathered in the course of the three week trek forms the basis of the picture world of the "high altitude" work series.
The series visualizes the development of the leading global stock market indices over the past 20-30 years. The virtual data mountains of the stock market charts are resublimated in the craggy materiality of the Argentinean mountainscape. Just like the indices, mountains too have their timeline, their own biography. The rock formations soaring skywards like so many layered folds of a palimpsest bear witness to the life history of the mountain – stone storehouses of deep time unmeasureable on any human scale. The immediate reality of nature thus becomes a virtual experience. Such experience of virtuality is strikingly exemplified by the global economic and financial system. If the focus used to be on the exchange of goods and commodities, it is now securely on the exchange of immaterial information.
The information society has brought about a tectonic shift in our understanding of space and time. Humankind is confronted with a process of such dynamic complexity that the borderlines we seemingly identify at one moment are already sublimated in the next. In future the virtual value system could demand its proper reincarnation in the real world. The jagged rock formations of “high altitude” are emblematic of the thin edge separating reality and simulation.