The Arnolfini Gallery – Exhibition, Bristol

The Arnolfini Gallery – Exhibition Visit on November 12 2010 , Bristol

Arnolfini presented three exhibitions as a part of its Old Media season, focusing, from various perspectives, on the history of software art and its playfulness, with the impact of technology in relation to progress, consumerism and globalisation.

Some rooms were not what were expected but Fun With Software, WIMP and Open Circuit were quite interesting.  Here we go from start:

Tantalum Memorial – Reconstruction

(Harwood, Wright, Yokokoji)

The work was a telephony based on the 4.5 million people who died in the Coltan Wars in the Congo. The stuff was based on the old telephone exchange system. Coltan ore was mined for the metal tantalum, which is now more valuable than gold that I never knew. According to this stuff, the system picked up any phone number randomly and triggered to the old electromechanical Strowger telephone exchange that was reconstructed in 2008.

The Integration of Strowger, System, Telephone and radio was good enough. The sound and movement done by the stuff created a concrete presence for this intangible network of conversations, weaving together the ambiguities of globalisation, migration and our addiction.

Coal Fired Computers

(YoHa with Jean Demars)

The message was given beautifully with proper art, media and design. Coal fired computers explored the relations between power, art and media, responding to the displacement of coal production to distant lands.

The computer displayed the data related to miners lung disease, that data display generated signals to be sent to an air compressor, which in turn inflated a pair of lungs which were looking realistic. The lung on left was expended when the data appeared on the screen having details of UK miners deaths and injuries, while the right lung’s inflation is triggered each time a piece of data concerning miners compensation claim for pneumoconiosis [a lung disease] appears.

Fun With Software

(David Link, Erik Thiele, Christoph Haag, Martin Rumori, Franziska Windisch & Ludwig Zeller, Alexei Shulgin and Victor Laskin, Harwood, Jodi and the RunMe Archive)

This was one of the interesting part at Arnolfini Exhibition showing transitions between the number of a computer based, scientific or mathematical individual terminals working. It was through fun that things get invented and become our reality. We can come closer to such practices through the territories that are in-between geeky humour, digital folklore, cultures of using conventional software and history of computation.

Open Circuit

(Christoph Haag, Martin Rumori, Franziska Windisch & Ludwing Zeller)

The room where Open Circuit was installed was giving a wonderful look and copper strips were giving look like railways tracks and it was more fun for children. The concept was so clear by looking over things there, the portable speakers were placed over the copper strips.

The copper wires revealed the visual aesthetic of hardware, amateur electronic engineering, and the dynamic with which it is able to engage with signals across users, space and time.


(Alexie Shulgin/Victor Laskin)

A great tool I liked there the most, which was doing various random extra-ordinary transitions on the windows based interface like flipping desktop upside down, shake icons, change interface colours, let all desktop folders drop down and fill many pop-up windows etc… Its the VJ tool, that used elements of windows graphical user interface as its sole source of visual material. WIMP does not only accompany sound, it critically comments on the aesthetic dominance of the visual elements which became the core of GUI rather random reasons.


(David Link)

The stuff was wonderful with a big board of switches that worked on the computer based binary to hexadecimal level language, originally created by one of the first software programmers Christopher Strachey [1916 – 1975].

But I couldn’t get done of love letter, it supposed to be quite romantic.

The software used the built-in random generator of the Ferranti Mark 1.

David Link worked from just two archival sourced some of the original working components. I found it hard to understand and work over it.

The software art repository created by all the people who used and contributed to it since late 2002. It offers an interesting and slightly ironic perspective on software art and one that is rich in drawing upon programmer’s cultures alongside the more self-consciously artistic enquiries.

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