DIFFERENCE ENGINE IX
…here, earth will appear open and from fissures will fly sweet rhizomatic vapours… Where grounds separate, aperiodic patterns will emerge… Images of distant, fractured architectures will assert themselves against an horizon of faraway geologies… The way will seem at first unclear… but listen… voices will speak out and there will be bright shelter and you will not be alone…
Altern_ators is a collaborative composition that generates and performs differences within a gallery context, drawing audiences into relation with them. The mood of Altern_nators is charged with a consciousness of worldly and other-worldly agency and change.
Increasingly, we feel and know that we are living through a moment of rapid technological and environmental change, pervasive wars and intellectual, emotional and political inertia. We live and work in societies and contexts increasingly conditioned by anti-democratic politics, predictive policing algorithms and grotesque technological consumerism, irresponsibility and waste. More than ever, we feel the necessity of art.
Difference Engine IX stages an Altern_ators assembly for the audience of HDLU to encounter, think and become with. We imagine Altern_ators as a context where differences and tensions can be produced, inhabited and explored personally and collectively.
Difference Engine: Travellator
8th – 23rd September 2017
Open Monday – Saturday by appointment
Wolphaertstraat 41C, 3082 BL Rotterdam
Difference Engine (DE) presents Travelator the tenth collective experiment of the evolving work of Gillian Lawler, Jessica Foley, Mark Cullen and Wendy Judge.
DE invited by artist/curator Tracy Hanna to install a context-sensitive exhibition at ONONO gallery, Rotterdam within the constraints of a small shower room in a 20th century apartment located in the Old Charlois district of Rotterdam.
Difference Engine is noted for installations that respond to context. The defunct shower room of ONONO offers intriguing conditions that will place their work in a confined and overtly domestic sphere. Travelator offers DE an intersection between the realities of artistic production in this contemporary city against the jostling of its own mechanisms as a group. The renovated apartment is an enticing context to develop new improvisations together and to open up conversations at close quarters through the force of compression.
Difference Engine is both an evolving exhibition and a model of artist-led curation by Wendy Judge, Gillian Lawler, Mark Cullen and Jessica Foley who have been working and touring together since 2009.
Their collective name is lifted from the 19th century work of Charles Babbage, the world’s first mechanical computational machine: The Difference Engine. Babbage was a cantankerous English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, mechanical engineer and notorious collaborator with the world’s first computer programmer, Lady Ada Lovelace.
Adopting the name Difference Engine as a kind of poetic motto for working together creatively, pragmatically and critically, they particularly enjoy Babbage’s aphorism that “Jamming is a form of Error Detection,” and take this as something of a slogan for collective experimentation and collaboration.
Difference Engine play with the idea of ‘jamming’ as both a way of making art and a way of life. In one sense ‘jamming’ signifies stasis, shock, or rupture, but in another sense it signifies change, growth, improvisation and invigoration between players. Their work combines model-making, painting, multi-media installation and performance. The tight space of the shower room will force a compression, ramping up the tensions inherent in creative collaboration. They expect some sparks to fly.
ONONO is a project space and studio co-founded by Cihad Caner, Raluca Croitoru, Daniel Fogarty, Tracy Hanna and Clara J:son Borg. It was established in 2016 and hosts exhibitions, screenings and other events.
Previous exhibitions include, Accumulator III, Limerick City Gallery, 2013, Accumulator II, Oriel Myrrdin Gallery, Wales, 2013, Accumulator, West Cork Arts Centre, 2012, Manifestation V, SOMA Contemporary, Waterford, 2012, Manifestation IV, Wexford Arts Centre, 2012, Manifestation III, CSV Cultural Arts Center, New York, 2011, Manifestation II, ESB Sub-Station, Triskel Arts Centre and Black Mariah, Cork, 2010, Manifestation, Cake Contemporary Arts, Kildare, 2009.
Upcoming exhibitions include Altern-ator, HDLU, the Centre for the Association of Croatian Artists, Zagreb, Croatia, April 2018.
Difference Engine* is an evolving touring exhibition, a model of autonomous artist curation, by artists Mark Cullen,Wendy Judge Gillian Lawler & Jessica Foley, featuring Gordon Cheung**.
Taking the ‘first’ computer as a namesake, and adopting Charles Babbage’s observation that ‘Jamming is a form of error detection’ as our imaginative jumping off point, Difference Engine plays with the idea of ‘jamming’. In one sense ‘jamming’ signifies stasis, shock, or rupture, but in another sense, it signifies change, growth, improvisation and invigoration between players.
With this in mind, we work together through art. In many ways, Difference Engine operates similarly to oral storytelling, where the story changes each time it is spoken. Only, with Difference Engine, the story is made up of visuals, objects and props, as well as words. There isn’t one set narrative, and so there is a call to the audience to build their own associations and narratives from the pieces we present and organise in the exhibition space. The works brought together through Difference Engine weave personal concerns with concepts of science, geologic time, language, architecture and economics.
*Charles Babbage is attributed with having graced the world with what has become generically known as ‘the computer’. The motivation behind his early 19th century efforts, it seems, lay in his desire to bring into being ‘the first successful automatic calculating device to embody mathematical rule in mechanism’, thereby eliminating ‘human error’ in the tablature of numerical calculations.
The Machine would produce a uniform numerical certainty that the human could not, thereby ensuring precision & automation within the major fields of the day dependant upon the tabling of data: Astronomy, engineering, banking & insurance, navigation, construction & finance. Babbage did not live to see his Difference Engine exact it’s existence leaving the legacy of his designs in his wake he declared ‘Another age must be the Judge’
**Gordon’s works variously infiltrate the Difference Engine exhibitions. Principally, though, Gordon Cheung provides Difference Engine with a talismanic portrait of Charles Babbage, which has become something of a touchstone within each of our exhibitions. Ironically, the portrait is the one piece within the Difference Engine shows which remains constant.
Mark Cullen *** Gillian Lawler *** Jessica Foley *** Wendy Judge
September 2009 (revised Feb 2013)
Above are just a selection of some of the works within the exhibition Accumulator II at the Oriel Myrddin Gallery, more to follow in the coming week or so.
We have arrived at the lovely Oriel Myrddin Gallery, in Carmarthen, Wales. Today marked the first install day, lots of ironing out of creases, opening up works and letting them settle, and letting ourselves get a feel for how to relate everything to the space and to each other.
We’ve been reflecting upon the motivations behind Difference Engine and marveling at the fact that this is our 7th show together! Conversations among the group this evening wondered about technology and the seeming magic of it; conversely, the frustration of slide carousels never working when you’re looking at them; whether we are sharing our work with an audience or a public, whether the distinction matters, and whether we ought to make an audit of this whole ‘touring autonomous artist-led curation’ and try to demonstrate more plainly the in’s and out’s of funding without getting personal about it…
…considerations on cheese and bread and tea, on soccer and the beauty of the welsh accent were also made today. But now, it’s time for sleep!