From the romantic origins of Stéphane Mallarmé’s text “Un coup de dès jamais n’abolira le hasard” - a throw of the dice will never abolish chance - we consider new ways of thinking through the centuries old puzzle of code, numbers and language. Mallarmé’s famous typographic layout of words on the page, hover for some as a precursor to the concrete poetry of performative code, that from a modernist perspective proved ideological in its refutation of ideology, as well as metaphysics. Mallarmé’s text also resonates through Roland Barthes interpretation, and the advent of the reader, whilst a more recent study by the philosopher Quentin Meillassoux, draws out matters of contingency and chance, through an indeterminate code.
Acting as a moving configuration that materialises in several forms throughout the exhibition period, an online work hovers as a ‘holding page’ projected into the project space as a site of speculation for further works to develop. The work draws on the late Elaine Sturtevant’s early practice of making works of other artists works through Haring Tag and Elie Ayache’s writing on contingency in his book The Blank Swan - with a copy of the publication Elaine Sturtevant: Author
of the Quixote also on display. Embedded within the online work in the project space a video hints at the mythologies and rumour that fuel the story of the blockchain, through glimpses of a local home-grown bitcoin mining rig. These works wait, expectantly, for further development through two discursive workshops experimenting with publishing through the blockchain, and how these
ideas might bring about new ways of working, and instituting - with invited contributors: Tom Clark, Ruth Catlow, Alessandro Ludovico, Karen Di Franco, and Ben Vickers.
The very first block of data in Bitcoin; the Genesis block, contained a “secret” message inscribed within it of The Times (UK) headline commenting on the fallibility of the current banking system: 'The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks'. A recent news headline reports on the UK Government trials of blockchain technology in the Welfare Payments system, partnering with Barclays Bank. The workshops aim to discuss the several, and possibly contradictory claims made regarding the blockchain, whilst developing a digital puzzle of our findings, that will be inscribed, ascribed, and described through the block.
Yuri Pattison configures Phillip Zimmerman’s Pretty Good Privacy book in two new custom server case works in the project space, following his Un-Publish commission earlier in the year, supported by the Goethe Institute for the Banner Repeater publishing as process event. Pattison's work focus’s on an intriguing instance of publishing as a strategy to avoid censorship. Zimmerman had produced a free software permitting anyone who used it to enjoy the same cryptographic security as governments and large corporations, and notably became of interest to the US government as a result. He published the digital code as a book, and distributed it globally, correctly summising that it would be politically difficult for the Government to then prohibit a book that could be found in a public library or local bookstore.
Yuri Pattison's Un-Publish 2.07 commission: postface; pretty good privacy is free to take away from the project space, during the exhibition period.
Thinking through the block - workshops
Saturday 22nd Oct and 12th Nov 3-6pm
Continuing our focus on publishing as process, where important precedents in publishing provide insights into present day protocols in network culture, we will be holding two open workshops experimenting with publishing through the blockchain, and how this might bring about new ways of working, and instituting. The very first block of data in Bitcoin; the Genesis block, contained a “secret” message inscribed within it of The Times (UK) headline commenting on the fallibility of the current banking system: 'The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks'. A recent news headline reports on the UK Government trials of blockchain technology in the Welfare Payments system, partnering with Barclays Bank. The workshops aim to discuss the several, and possibly contradictory claims made regarding the blockchain, whilst developing a digital puzzle of our findings, that will be inscribed, ascribed, and described through the block.
The workshops are open to everyone, with invited contributors: Tom Clark, Ruth Catlow, Alessandro Ludovico, Karen Di Franco, and Ben Vickers.
We will be considering ideas that include the most immediate use of the block to attribute authorship and hence intellectual property, and copyright, whilst asking further questions, a few of which are below:
• how might blockchain help develop alternative models of sharing?
• what contractual agreements might be developed - dependent on usage and user?
• how might these function within an economy that has been described primarily as a gifteconomy?
• how might blockchain facilitate the development of new institutional models?
• what can we learn from previous precedents that share similar attributes to blockchain in archival projects?
• how might blockchain, with it’s capacity to render all items ultimately searchable, perhaps shut-down previous modes of working? that include: sampling, copying and appropriation
• and many more...
As the online digital puzzle develops through the workshops we will include written and visual contributions, leaving traces in the chain, and displayed in the project space as a work in progress.
With programming by Anne De Boer.
New Materialisms: reading group with Ami Clarke.
Wednesday 27th October 7-9pm
We will have read and be discussing: Chapter 4, Writing and the Market, of The Blank Swan by Elie Ayache.
A recent project by Ami Clarke with the French financier Elie Ayache, developed through the publication of her writing of Ayache’s book The Blank Swan: Chapter 4: Writing and the Market, and a talk during the ICA’s Technology Now series: https://www.ica.org.uk/whats-on/technologynow-elie-ayache-and-ami-clarke
The Jorge Louis Borges' story of Pierre Menard; Author of the Quixote, central to Ayache’s philosophy, draws on the contingency of writing, as equivalent to pricing in the derivatives market.
Ayache’s Blank Swan is a book about writing, pricing and contingent claims. His claim is that the writing process and the pricing process, are two special kinds of processes that do not take place in time or in probability, like traditional stochastic processes. By thinking through the derivative markets with regards to what technology is available to get inside the process of history—to do something that is at once more active than to passively watch history unfold, and altogether different from the conceptual activity consisting in predicting and outguessing history—he claims prediction is not the only room history leaves us.
Elaine Sturtevant's artists' publication Elaine Sturtevant: Author of the Quixote is on display in the current exhibition.
Calculus with Ramon Amaro. October 2016. (date tbc.)
Ramon Amaro will be talking about calculus and his research, further details to follow.