Low Animal Spirits.

Opening night: 19th September 6.30-9pm.

Exhibition runs from 20th September – 14th December.

Low Animal Spirits by Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane is an algorithm driven by real time data, scripted as a live onscreen score and audio work with automated ‘readers’.  Taking its cue from the oft-mentioned loss of the referent in both language and the economy, it is a live model of high frequency trading, dealing in words sourced from global news feeds for virtual ‘profit’, whilst speculating on their usage.  The analysis produces new phenomena in the form of headlines generated with the help of Natural Language processing algorithms, tweeted @lowanimalspirits. A tabloid printed on Financial Times newspaper accompanies the exhibition, free to take away, that includes a recently commissioned* experimental text: In the Pull of Time by Ami Clarke. 

The theory of probability emerged from the gambling halls and insurance brokerages, astronomers and mathematicians of the Enlightenment period.  The economist Keynes spent many years studying probability theory in an attempt to predict future market behavior and the Great Depression shook his confidence considerably.  ‘Low animal spirits' - a mass downturn in confidence - showed a paradox found in human nature that locates a herd-like mentality, as well as unpredictability and uncertainty, at the core of international finance: a model of mass behavioural procedures.  Advances in computing technologies, and investment in the cybernetic theories thereof, impacted on even the concept of democracy as a cybernetic feedback system, coupled with a renewed faith in the self-regulating efficiency of the market. Ideas of the mind functioning like an automaton emerged with the principal problem of addressing the mind and body as separate entities*, and as the machines sped up, they left the mind behind,* with a deficit of attention in an economy of self-performance.  Key aspects of human activity are now intelligible only to machines, as both spectators and curators of big data, shaping what emerges into the public realm*. 

Low Animal Spirits parses human activity sourced as news through “an electronic communications network executing trades at unheard of speeds, trading in decimalized increments that produce a level of complexity easier handled by computers*, in both transmission and reception.  In the new ‘all-machine phase’, characterized by large numbers of sub-second ultra-fast events, existing behaviours accelerate ever faster as new regimes emerge*, compatible with the protocols of interfunctionality, as competing fragments of time*. As the structural play of value gets the upper hand, words exchange against each other, rather than against the real.  The result of a process of technical modeling*; counters in a game of gambling.”

Kindly supported by The Elephant Trust and Arts Council England.


Brief biogs:

Ami Clarke is an artist and founder of Banner Repeater: a reading room with a public Archive of Artists Publishing, and project space; opening up an experimental space for others, with a shared  focus in her practice on publishing, distribution, and dissemination. She has recently exhibited/curated works at David Roberts Arts Foundation, Camden Arts Centre and a solo exhibition in Tokyo, Japan.  She lectures across the UK on post-digital art production.

Richard Cochrane is a writer, educator and musician, and a founder of the new Centre for Art and Mathematics at Central Saint Martins and director of Big Ideas Initiatives.  In his previous career he wrote software for derivatives trading floors in the City, mostly as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs.  He has performed at the Museum of London, the Bridewell Theatre, and is the author of several books on poetry, computer programming, music and history.



* Markov (amongst many others) - the limitations of the human mouth in his probabilistic studies of poetry 1906. Traces of the mouth: Andrei Andreyevich Markov’s Mathematization of Writing by David Link, 2006.

* Ted Striphas, author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, and Art Beyond Spectatorship by Boris Groys.

* The Silent Revolution: How Digitalization Transforms Knowledge, Work, Journalism and Politics without making too much noise.  By Mercedes Bunz P12/13 2014.

* In the Pull of Time by Ami Clarke was commissioned for ‘of a final account in formation’ by Scott Mason, MK gallery, Sept 2014. Texts by, V. Allen, Harry Burke, Ami Clarke, Chris Fite-Wassilak, John Hill, Elizabeth Holdsworth, Chris Kraus, Martí Manen, Rasmus Nilausen, Lisa Radon, Holly Stevenson.  Published by renaro. 

*Last paragraph - paraphrased excerpt from The Pull of Time –– the fully attributed text is on display at Banner Repeater: *The tax haven in the heart of Britain by Nicholas Shaxson. New Statesman. Published 24 February 2011.  *Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time by Neil Johnson, Guannan Zhao, Eric Hunsader, Hong Qi, Nicholas Johnson, Jing Meng & Brian Tivnan Scientific Reports 3.  *The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance (Semiotext(e) / In- tervention Series) by Franco Bifo Birardi 2012. *Forget Foucault, Forget Baudrillard (Semiotext) Jean Baudrillard with Sylvere Lotringer.

Talks during the exhibition period.

4th October 2-4pm. Art Licks Weekend artists talk: Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane.

Discursive talks during the exhibition period with practitioners in differing fields engaged with the study of algorithms:

Thursday October 23rd 7-9pm.  Dancing through knowledge: How an algorithm looks at the world.

Please join us for a talk by Mercedes Bunz, author of The Silent Revolution: How Algorithms Changed Knowledge, Work, Journalism, and Politics Without Making Too Much Noise.


Thursday 6th November 7-9pm. The Algorithms of Capital.

Please join us for: Matteo Pasquinelli (editor of The Algorithms of Capital) and Nick Srnicek (co-author with Alex Williams of Inventing the Future (Verso, 2015)) in conversation.