The Economy of Appearances @ LCGA (Installation)

October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment


In this major exhibition, The Economy of Appearances, Curran draws these projects together for the first time, expanding the enquiry with newly commissioned work completed in Amsterdam. Incorporating photographs, film, sound, artifactual material and testimony, themes include algorithmic machinery of financial markets, as innovator of this technology, absorption of crises as normalisation of deviance, and long range mapping and consequences of financial activity distanced from citizens and everyday life.
2_LCGA_Curran 5_LCGA_Curran 6_LCGA_Curran


Curran filmed in the new financial district of Zuidas on the southern periphery of the Dutch capital – a global centre for algorithmic trading. Adapted from a text by former trader and now financial activist, Brett Scott, which examines High Frequency Trading (HFT) and how the input of human values, are excluded, the voiceover and title of the film are inspired by Scott’s essay, Algorithmic Surrealism. The film suggests the hegemony of HFT and the extinction of human reason or intelligence – human strengths that also include traits such as empathy and ethical behaviour – in Market decisions will both perpetuate and render more extreme the power relations of minority wealth in globalised capitalist systems


Through the application of an algorithm identifying the words “market” and/or “markets” in public speeches by relevant national Ministers of Finance, the data is then transformed to create the installation soundscape. To date, algorithmic translations of Michael Noonan (Ireland), George Osborne (United Kingdom), Pierre Moscovici (France) and Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Netherlands & Eurozone Group President) have been included in exhibitions in those countries. Curran activates the popular graphic representation of such circumstance through a 3D visualisation/virtualisation of the algorithmically-generated soundscape—The Economy Of Appearances—to represent contemporary financial capital functioning through the conduit of the financialised nation state.

Financial Surrealism (WTC), Zuidas Financial District, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015, (A4 double-sided colour print) (text on reverse)

Financial Surrealism (WTC)
Zuidas Financial District, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2015
(A4 double-sided colour print)
(text on reverse)

…in the case of the Netherlands, most of the Dutch shadow banking sector…is set-up by corporations for tax purposes, to attract external funding and to facilitate intragroup transactions…the focus of the shadow banking entities located in Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands is the euro area, or even global.

While the relative importance of the euro area shadow banking sector has risen significantly since 2007, it remains smaller than the regulated banking system. Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Ireland are the exception: the shadow banking sector assets in these three countries are substantially larger than those of the regulated banking system, accounting for almost two-thirds of the entire euro area shadow banking system. Credit through non-bank channels can have important advantages and contributes to the financing of the real economy, but can also become a source of systemic risk…

(source Banking Structures Report (2008-2013), European Central Bank, October 2014)

Shadow Banking

Many financial institutions that act like banks are not supervised like banks. The term, shadow bank was coined by U.S. economist Paul McCulley in 2007…because they are not subject to traditional bank regulation…they are in the shadows.

They are characterized by lack of disclosure and information about the value of their assets…opaque governance and ownership structures between banks and shadow banks; little regulatory or supervisory oversight…

Shadows can be frightening because they obscure the shapes and sizes of objects within them. The same is true for shadow banks. Estimating the size of the shadow banking system is particularly difficult because many of its entities do not report to government regulators. The shadow banking system appears to be largest in the United States, but nonbank credit intermediation is present in other countries—and growing. The shadow banking system’s share of total global financial intermediation was about 25 percent in 2009.

(source Finance & Development, International Monetary Fund, June 2013 Vol. 50 No.2)


Portrait (Child) from series Stoneybatter (Dublin) August 1998

Text Helen Carey

Algorithm & Sound Composition: Ken Curran
3D Data Visualisation: Damien Byrne
Film Editor: Lidia Rossner
Film script adapted by Mark Curran from original essay by Brett Scott
Voice: Claudia Schäfer

Thanks to Arts Council Ireland, Noorderlicht Photography, NEPN (University of Sunderland), Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT), Belfast Exposed Photography Gallery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Gallery of Photography & Culture Ireland

Mark Curran The Economy of Appearances
4 September–30 October 2015
Opening: Thursday, 3 September
Limerick City Gallery of Art
Carnegie Building
Pery Square

Full information here.

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