Normalisation of Deviance

Mark Curran’s Normalisation of Deviance

13.8.2013

Normalisation of Deviance is the title of an visual and aural art installation by artist Mark Curran. Part of the basis for the installation is an algorithm, designed by Ken Curran, to identify how often the Irish Minister of Finance, Michael Noonan, used the words ’market‘ or ’markets‘ in public speeches since taking office in March 2011. The algorithm’s output is manipulated into multiple forms: visual and aural; manifesting as soundscapes accompanying spectrographs. The artist describes the installation as “attempting to represent the defining and ceaseless sound of the global markets through a pivotal conduit of capital, the nation-state“.

 

Installation shot of ‘Normalisation of Deviance’ by Mark Curran.
Image courtesy of Helen Carey.

The first installment of the work is currently on display in Limerick City Gallery of Art as part of the group exhibition Labour and Lockout. As well as photographs, artefacts and transcribed converstions the installation incorporates the Michael Noonan algorithmic soundscape and a 6 feet column of A4 paper representing the data generated from 14,000 positions taken globally on a single financial stock in one nanosecond (measured by  Chicago based researcher in 2011). The text on the paper is a quote transcribed from a telephone conversation between Curran and a London based investment bank trader in February 2013:

…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…

The trader’s quote tells us that trading of stock market positions is occurring faster than humans can communicate; we think we understand the mechanics of the market but we have no realistic way of knowing.

 

‘The Normalisation of Deviance II’
(Algorithm to identify Michael Noonan’s application of the words, market/markets in public speeches since taking office in March 2011 from THE MARKET, a project by Mark Curran.

The title of the installation, Normalisation of Deviance, and Curran’s use of algorithms draws attention to the increased use of algorithm trading in the global stock markets, also referred to as ‘black box trading‘ or ‘high frequency trading‘[1]. In his research Curran points to a 2012 report by the British Government’s Office for Science, which predicts that algorithmic trading will replace human trading activity in the global stock markets within a decade. Curran observes:

In the same report, the authors state algorithms will eventually be able to self-evolve through their ability to experience i.e. building upon their previous market experiences and therefore requiring no human intervention. However, they also warn, that within such a framework, there exists the potential for what they describe as the Normalisation of Deviance, when ‘unexpected and risky events come to be seen as ever more normal until a disaster occurs‘.

The Normalisation of Deviance installation also raises questions about the normalisation of citizens to economic concepts and market ideologies as a result of  neo-liberalism and globalisation.

 

‘The Normalisation of Deviance I’
(Spectrograph of selection of audio generated by Michael Noonan’s application of the words, market/markets in public speeches since taking office in March 2011) from THE MARKET, a project by Mark Curran.

Normalisation of Deviance will be installed simultaneously in galleries in Dublin and Belfast later in the month, where spectrographs will appear in place of the trader’s quote to reproduce the paper column and therefore revealing the true source of the soundscape which envelopes the entire installation.

The Normalisation of Deviance is part of an ongoing research project titled THE MARKET, undertaken by Mark Curran and curated by Helen Carey, Director of the Limerick City Gallery of Art. Described as a “transnational multi-sited project… [that] focuses on the functioning of the global stock and commodity markets“[2], Curran has sought access, with, to date, varying degrees of success, to the trading floors of the stock markets in Dublin, London, Frankfurt and Addis Ababa, key nodes in the network of stock markets that play out the global financial crisis.

Curran’s point of departure is to propose that the market is a construct, a myth, an ideal that does not resemble reality. The invisible control of the world‘s resources, the complex relations of power, algorithmic trading of stock market positions faster than humans can communicate: we think we understand but we don’t.

 

‘Bethlehem, Trader’
Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX)
September, 2012 Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
from THE MARKET, a project by Mark Curran.

In his book The Right To Look, Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff describes the set of contemporary social conditions in the West as a “military-industrial complex” where “the real goal is maintaining a permanent state of crisis, rather than achieving a phantasmic victory” and “the point is less to win than to keep playing, permanently moving to the next level in the ultimately massively multi-player environment”[3]. Military – industrial complex is separate to capitalism but it is not difficult to imagine the same game being played out in a global financial crisis where the reward for survival is a place in the market and a crisis solution, unless it benefits the market, is ignored.

Curran’s Normalisation of Deviance is on display as part of Labour and Lockout, an exhibition marking the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout: a key moment in Ireland’s industrial history when employers refused to recognize workers in an attempt to break worker solidarity and the trade union movement. Curran has been invited to speak about this work at Land │ Labour │ Capital, a free, public symposium taking place 26-28 September in Limerick City Gallery of Art in collaboration with Future State, and Goldsmiths, University of London.

[1] Curran, M., (2012) ‘About’ in Lockout 2013. A Visual Art Research Project Marking the Forthcoming Centenary of the 1913  Dublin Lockout. Available at: http://lockout2013.wordpress.com/about/ (accessed 31/11/2012)
[2] Curran, M., (2012) ‘Normalisation of Deviance’ in Lockout 2013. A Visual Art Research Project Marking the Forthcoming Centenary of the 1913  Dublin Lockout. Available at: http://lockout2013.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/normalisation-of-deviance/ (accessed 9/8/2013)
[3] Mirzoeff, N., (2011) ’The Right to Look, or, How to Think With and Against Visuality’, The Right to Look, Durham & London. Duke University Press. p. 21.
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Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’

Labour and Lockout: ‘you take my life when you do take the means whereby I live’

2.8.2013

The exhibition Labour and Lockout opens in Limerick City Gallery of Art  on 8 August and runs until 1 October exploring contemporary and historical scenarios where conditions of labour impact on lives lived today. Artists include Deirdre O’Mahony, Anthony Haughey, Deirdre Power, Darek Fortas, Jesse Jones, Sean Lynch, Seamus Farrell, Megs Morley & Tom Flanagan and Mark Curran.

Future State is collaborating with Goldsmiths, University of London and Limerick City Gallery of Art to host Land Labour Capital, a three day event of film screenings, artist talks, seminars and workshops related to the exhibition theme, taking place 26-28 September. Keynote speakers will include:

Mark Curran, educator and artist participating in the exhibition.  He completed a practice-led PhD at the Dublin Institute of Technology (2011), lectures on the BA (Hons) Photography programme, Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire and is Visiting Professor on the MA in Visual and Media Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. Incorporating multi-media installation informed by ethnographic understandings, Curran has undertaken a cycle of long-term research projects over the past 15 years, critically addressing the predatory context resulting from the migrations and flows of global capital. Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and partnered by Gallery of Photography, Belfast Exposed, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Limerick City Gallery of Art and curated by Helen Carey, Curran is undertaking a project to be part of the marking of the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Continuing the cycle to date, this multi-sited transnational project titles THE MARKET, focuses on the functioning of the global markets. It explores the nexus of the stockmarket, the lives of those working on the trading floors and in the financial sector and the lives of ordinary people not directly related to the sector.  Curran has sought access to the trading floors of stock exchanges in Dublin, Addis Abbaba, Frankfurt, London and has maintained an informative blog to capture his research.  THE MARKET will be presented in Dublin, Belfast and Limerick in August 2013 with publication to follow in 2014

Dr Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh. She has widely published in journals and has contributed numerous chapters to edited collections, including ‘The Spectacle and Its Others: Labour, Conflict and Art in the Age of Global Capital’ in Jonathan Harris, ed, Globalization and Contemporary Art, Wiley-Blackwell 2011 and ‘The Art Biennial as Symptom’ in Pilar Parcericas and Joacquin Barriendos, eds, Global Circuits: The Geography of Art and the New Configurations of Critical Thought, Acca 2011. Her books include Gender, ArtWork and the Global Imperative: A Materialist Feminist Critique (MUP 2013) and, in her native Greek, Art and Globalization: From the Postmodern Sign to the Biopolitical Arena (2013). With Lara Perry she co-edited Politics in a Glass Case:Feminism, Exhibition Cultures and Curatorial Transgressions (LUP 2013). In 2013 she co-curated, with Kirsten Lloyd, ECONOMY. An edited collection titled Economy: Art and the Subject after Postmodernism expanding on the outcomes of the curatorial research is forthcoming from Liverpool University Press in 2014. Angela is Corresponding Editor of HM: Research in Critical Marxist Theory and a Researcher with the Art, Globalization, Interculturality group at the University of Barcelona (http://artglobalizationinterculturality.com).

Professor Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His work is in the field of visual culture, particularly on the genealogy of visuality, a key term in the field. His book The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality was published by Duke University Press (2011). He has produced and edited many texts and projects that support the general development of visual culture as a field of study and a methodology, such as the third Visual Culture Reader, edited by Mirzoeff and published in 2012 by Routledge and the second fully revised edition of An Introduction to Visual Culture, published in 2009 by Routledge. He also works on militant research with the global social movements that have arisen since 2011, particularly the Occupy movement, writing a regular column ‘Intensify’  for Tidal Magazine.

Deirdre O’Mahony is an artist, academic and occasional writer. She received PhD from the University of Brighton titled New Ecologies between Rural Life and Visual Culture in the West of Ireland: History, Context, Position, and Art Practice. Current projects include a collaborative project SPUD, between farmers, artists and art agencies taking place in Ireland, the UK and the USA and this year she has produced a collaborative event, River Culture in County Tipperary in June 2013.  She is curating an installation on rural labour and the regulation of turf cutting as part of the. O’Mahony is a member of the association of Arte Útil practitioners, a project by Tanya Bruguera, and part of the Arte Útil archive. Solo exhibitions include Abandoned Clare 2013, re-presentations, BCA Gallery 2009, Viscqueux Galway Arts Festival, 2006, Wall, Context Gallery Derry and LCGA, 2002 and WRAP; Galway Arts Centre in 2000. Public art projects include T.U.R.F (Transitional Understandings Of Rural Futures), ongoing, Mind Meitheal ongoing, Abridged: 0 – 20 Abandoned Clare, 2011, funded by the Arts Council, X-PO 2007-8 funded by the Arts Council and Cross Land, 2007 commissioned by Clare Co. Council. O’Mahony has received numerous awards, both national and international including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship in 1995 and visual arts bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíonn, 1997/2001 and 2010.

For more details and updates as they become available check http://www.thefuturestate.org.uk.