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.

THE MARKET/ Centre Culturel Irlandais/ Paris

January 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

CCI Invitation (cover)

CCI Invitation (cover)

…what people don’t understand… is that what happens in the market is pivotal to their lives… not on the periphery, but slap, bang, in the middle…
(from telephone conversation with Trader (name withheld), Dealing Room, Investment Bank, London, February 2013)

Mark Curran’s challenging new project THE MARKET sets out to make visible – literally and metaphorically – the sphere where our futures are speculated upon. His multi-media installation includes photographs, films, transcripts of interviews and a soundscape that investigate the functioning of the global stock and commodity markets. From Dublin to London, Frankfurt and Addis Abeba, the artist concentrates on the experience of individuals working within a supremely complex system. 
In the installation at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, the relationship between the individual and the abstract algorithmic systems of the market is heightened through a sound piece designed by Ken Curran that permeates the gallery space, which is generated from algorithms identifying the words market or markets from public speeches given by the French Minister of Finance, Pierre Moscovici.

Opening of events will be made by 
Rory Montgomery, Irish Ambassador to France 
Nora Hickey M’Sichili, Director of Centre Culturel Irlandais
Centre Culturel Irlandais 
5, rue des Irlandais 

75005 – Paris 

January 30 – March 2
Opening Thursday, January 30 at 6.30pm

Opening times of the exhibitions:

2pm – 6pm Tuesday to Saturday

(Late opening Wednesday until 8pm)

12.30pm – 2.30pm Sunday

Full programme contextualising the exhibition on the opening weekend includes panel discussion with David McWilliams (Writer & Economist), Alfred M’Sichili (Philosopher & Political Economist), Helen Carey, Mark Uzan (Reinventing Bretton Woods Committee) and Mark Curran, an evening with the organisers of ‘Kilkenomics’.
In addition there will be a special screening on Saturday, February 1st at 5.00pm of the documentary, Skin in the Game, directed by Donald Taylor Black, (Filmmaker and Head of Department of Film & Media, IADT) addressing the response of artists in Ireland to the 2007 economic collapse.
Algorithms and soundscape design: Ken Curran.
The full programme is available here
This project was generously supported by the Arts Council of Ireland & the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
It was presented in Ireland at Gallery of Photography, Belfast Exposed and Limerick City Gallery of Art as part of a nationwide artistic project in 2013, curated by Helen Carey (director of Limerick City Gallery of Art), to mark the centenary of the 1913 industrial conflict known as the Dublin Lockout.

The installation and events in Paris are supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Culture Ireland.
Preview of show in Paris by Actual Colours May Vary can be found here.

Installation: THE MARKET

September 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Gallery of Photography, Dublin 24 August – 1 october 2013

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

The image above of part of the installation titled The Normalisation of Deviance shows Spectrograms, a moving visual representation of the soundscape of the installation. The soundscape has been generated through the data generated through the use of an algorithm to identify how often the Irish Minister for Finance has used the word Market or Markets in his public speeches since taking office.

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

(installation photograph by Jamin Keogh)

Belfast Exposed 29 August – 11 October



The installation is similarly framed by the soundscape generated through the data generated by an algorithm identifying the application of the words Market or Markets by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in his public speeches since taking office.




The installation image below shows the 6 feet high stack of A4 paper also titled The Normalisation of Deviance as part of the installation. This equates to the findings by a Chicago-based researcher of the number of global positions taken through the use of algorithms on one stock in one nanosecond. The total was 14,000 and equates to this amount of paper if this data was printed out. On the pages facing up is the quote:

…what people don’t understand… is that what happens in the market is pivotal to their lives… not on the periphery…but slap, bang, in the middle…
(From telephone conversation with trader, name withheld, Dealing Room, Investment Bank, London, February 2013


Further information available here and here.

The Breathing Factory at FORMAT 2013, Derby, UK

March 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

I mean we can keep throwing tax breaks at them but that’s just…that will only go so far…it’s a fool’s economy or a false economy or fool’s paradise or whatever you want to call it…I think we need to be…more cost effective and I don’t think…at the moment we really are…what we have got is, as I said, is…a well-trained, educated, kind of workforce…so that’s in our favour, but, again time will tell whether that’s enough…I don’t see it attracting everybody…I think they’ll always come in for the tax break and that’s probably the main reason they’re here for now…so I’m really not sure where this is going to be in 10-15 years time…you could have a lot of well-educated people walking done to the dole office (unemployment office) and you know…but like, I don’t really know where it’s going…you know…
(Cleanroom Supervisor, Canteen, Hewlett-Packard Ireland, 28 November 2003)

‘Untitled’, Gowning Room, Building 7 11.02 a.m., Monday, November 11th 2003’ (Leixlip, Ireland) 1m x 1cm Ultrachrome Archival Print, Nails, Bullclipsfrom the project The Breathing Factory (Edition Braus/Belfast Exposed/Gallery of Photography 2006) © Mark Curran

‘Untitled’, Gowning Room, Building 7 11.02 a.m., Monday, November 11th 2003’ (Leixlip, Ireland) 1m x 1cm Ultrachrome Archival Print, Nails, Bullclips
from the project The Breathing Factory (Edition Braus/Belfast Exposed/Gallery of Photography 2006) © Mark Curran

A project by Mark Curran

is presented as part of the main programme of FORMAT 2013
Curated by Louise Clements (Artistic Director QUAD Derby & FORMAT)
The theme of this edition is FACTORY: Mass Production in the city which founded the world’s first ever factory. The complete programme includes exhibitions by Brian Griffin, Polly Braden, Archive of Modern Conflict, Edward Burtynsky, Erik Kessels, Ien Teh, Simon Roberts, Alinka Echeverria, Martin Cregg, Darek Fortas, Rob Ball and Ken Grant amongst others.
Chocolate Factory
John Street via Siddels Road
Derby DE1 2LX
Opening: Thursday, March 7th at 6PM and continues until April 7th, 2013
With a title inspired by a widely utilised economic management model responsive to the needs and demands of the global market, which is intended to be implemented not only on the factory floor but to extend to the nation state, The Breathing Factory, critically adddresses the role and representation of labour and global labour practices in Ireland’s newly industrialised landscape. In 2005, the Irish Republic was defined as the ‘most globalised economy in the world’ with full employment. In 2013, national unemployment is close to 15%, while for those under the age of 25, it is 28%.
Global industrial practices are characterised by fleeting alliances; transient spaces as capital moves when and as required. In such an ephermeral and global context, and in the absence of significant audio and visual representation of labour and globalised industrial space regarding the Republic’s accelerated economic development, the project focuses upon the Hewlett-Packard Manufacturing and Technology Campus, part of a cluster formation of multinational technology complexes, in the east of Ireland. Following 9 months of negotiation regarding access and completed over a 20 month period, the work is the result of a practice-led doctoral research project incorporating ethnographic practices in its undertaking. The installation includes, photographs, text-base work, oral testimony, digital video projection, artefactual and sound archival material in its full presentation.
The Breathing Factory (2006) was published by Edition Braus, Heidelberg with the support of Belfast Exposed Photography, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Butler Gallery, Kilkenny and Gallery of Photography, Dublin.
The installation has been generously supported by CULTURE IRELAND.
Installation of The Breathing Factory, DePaul Art Museum (DPAM), Chicago, 2010 (image by Dominic Fortunato)

Installation of The Breathing Factory, DePaul Art Museum (DPAM), Chicago, 2010 (image by Dominic Fortunato)

In relation to The Breathing Factory, Curran will also present on re-presenting the conditions of labour in the global factory On the panel titled, The Worker: Towards the future, at the FORMAT 2013 conference  being held at the University of Derby, on Friday, March 8th. The day-long event begins at 9.30AM, and is chaired by Paul Herrmann (Director, Redeye) and Heike Löwenstein (Course Leader, Photography, UCA Rochester). Further details can be found here.

Update: short video clip of the installation at FORMAT 13

Installation of The Breathing Factory, FORMAT13, Derby, UK from Mark Curran on Vimeo.

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