Summer Interns Having Lunch (1987)

July 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summer Interns Having Lunch, Wall Street, New York, 1987 (photograph by Joel Sternfeld)

Described as a pioneer of colour photography, Joel Sternfeld, lives and works in New York. This image by Sternfeld from 1987 focuses upon the youthful summer intern, a role defined as a crucial and critical rite of passage for those who desire a future on the street. Significant is also the timing of the photograph as it precedes the stock market crash of Black Monday that Autumn, viewed by many as a result of the increasing prevalence of neoliberal financial capitalism and the rising application of computer trading, particularly in the United States.

(Installation) Ausschnitte aus EDEN/Extracts from EDEN – PhotoIreland 2012‏

July 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Globalisation promises that all will be wonderful…but people know now it is an unfair process and they are affected by it…even their very existence…
(Marco, student, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, January 2007)

‘untitled’, section(map), Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany (glass slide, single projection)

in the programme of PHOTOIRELAND 2012
Dublin, Ireland
presents an installation of
Ausschnitte aus EDEN/Extracts from EDEN
a project by Mark Curran
as part of the Main Exhibition – On Migration 
Opening 18.00, Moxie Studios, Dublin, Friday, July 13th and continuing until July 26th
The Lausitz lies in the southeastern part of the Province of Brandenburg in the former East Germany(Deutsche Demokratische Republik) where it meets the Polish border. Of Sorb origin (a Slavic language group), the region has been shaped by the timeline of industrialisation, where along with its capital, Cottbus/Chosebuz was defined as a Model State and energy heartland of the DDR. The Tagebau, part of the largest opencast mining territory in Europe, now owned by a Swedish energy multinational, lies north, east and south of the city. While it continues to be extended, the braunkohle (lignite) will eventually be completely depleted.

Angelika, Tagebauarbeiterin, Tagebau Jaenschwalde, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, July 2008 (still, two-channel digital video, looped)

Having first visited the region in late 2003, seeking the impact of global capital in a periphery of Europe, as had been experienced in my native Ireland, I quickly realised that it was in fact the antithesis of this experience. Prior to the global economic collapse, but as evidenced by the above prophetic words of Marco, I encountered an emptying and the recognition that the same globalising forces which had transformed unrestrained the landscape of my origins, were indeed transforming this landscape through its forces of withdrawal and seepage – a globalised hemorrhaging. As a result, jobs were and continue to go further East while its younger population migrates to the West and in 2007, the Lausitz came last in a national survey addressing future prospects.

‘untitled’ (empty housing project in process of being dismantled), Neu Schmellwitz, Cottbus, Lausitz, Eastern Germany, August 2007 (glass slide, single projection

Informed by ethnographic understandings and incorporating audio digital video, photography, cross-generational testimony and artefactual material, the project has been constructed in the context of a landscape shaped by and inscribed with the utopic ideological aspirations of modernity – industrialisation, socialism and now at great cost, globalisation. In totality, the region invokes Marshall Berman’s ‘wounds of modernity’ resulting from the ‘cycles of destruction’ necessary for the functioning of capital. A pivotal emphasis for the project, is the catalyst for the region itself, the Tagebau and critically viewing it as perhaps a metaphor for late capitalism – finite, fragile and ultimately, unsustainable.

The production of the project has been generously supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.

Further information and location of exhibition available here.

Video documentation of the installation of the project as part of Encontros da Imagem in Braga, Portugal in 2011 can be viewed here.

Ausschnitte aus EDEN/Extracts from EDEN (installation image, Braga, Portugal, 2011, photograph courtesy Jorge Inacio)

Normalisation of Deviance

July 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

Algorithmic Trading or High Frequency Trading or Black Box Trading according to a new report by the British Government’s Office for Science, Foresight, is set to replace Human Trading in the global stock markets. This form of trading is undertaken through decisions made by computers, primarily based upon large volumes of information/data related to previous market behaviour. In 2007, 50% of all equity trading in the United States was undertaken via algorithms and at present, this is 75%. In Europe, it is presently 40%.

The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets (Foresight, Goverment Office for Science, UK 2012)(cover)

In the working paper, titled, The Future of Computer Trading in Financial Markets (the full report is due at the end of 2012), the research project outlines the benefits and costs of such processes. The authors describes how in a decade, algorithms will be able to essentially self evolve through their ability to ‘experience’ i.e. building upon their previous market experiences and therefore requiring no human intervention. However, they do warn, that within such a framework, there exists the potential for what they describe as ‘instability’ through the Normalisation of Deviance which they identify as when ‘unexpected and risky events come to be seen as ever more normal (eg. extremely rapid crashes), until a disaster occurs’

We’re running through the United States with dynamite and rock saws so that an algorithm can close the deal three microseconds faster, all for a communications framework that no human will ever know; that’s a kind of manifest destiny.

The above words by Kevin Slavin were made in relation to the present construction of a high-speed fibre-optic cable between Chicago and New York to facilitate black box trading and comes from his TED talk titled, How Algorithms Shape Our World. Addressing some of the thematics outlined in the Foresight working paper. Slavin, a designer and consultant in the field of technology, argues, ‘that we’re living in a world designed for, and increasingly controlled by, algorithms’, and through the course of his presentation shows ‘how these complex computer programs determine espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture’. Critically, Slavin warns how ‘we are writing code we can’t understand, with implications we can’t control’.

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