Posts Tagged ‘enigma

30
Jun
13

Exhibition: ‘Petrina Hicks: Selected Photographs, 2013′ at Helen Gory Galerie, Prahran, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 12t June – 6th July 2013

.

“They’re thoughtful pictures that arouse curiosity rather than desire.”

.
Robert Nelson

.

.
A stunning, eloquent and conceptually complex exhibition buy Petrina Hicks at Helen Gory Galerie. It seems churlish to repeat writing about the themes and mythologies exhibited in the work after they have been so excellently delineated in the catalogue essay by Dan Rule. Everything that you need to know about the work is in that concise piece of writing.

I am just going to add that the photograph Venus (2013, below) is one of the most beautiful photographs that I have seen “in the flesh” (so to speak) for a long while. Hicks control over the ‘presence’ of the image, her control over the presence within the image is immaculate. To observe how she modulates the colour shift from blush of pink within the conch shell, to colour of skin, to colour of background is an absolute joy to behold. The pastel colours of skin and background only serve to illuminate the richness of the pink within the shell as a form of immaculate conception (an openness of the mind and of the body). I don’t really care who is looking at this photograph (not another sexualised male gaze!) the form is just beauty itself. I totally fell in love with this work.

Forget the neo-feminist readings, one string of text came to mind: The high fidelity of a fetishistic fecundity.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to Helen Gory Galeries for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

.

.

Petrina Hicks. 'Venus' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
Venus
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 100cm

.

Petrina Hicks. 'The Birth of Venus' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
The Birth of Venus
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 133cm

.

Petrina Hicks. 'Birdfingers' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
Birdfingers
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 100cm

.

.

Beauty and Artifice

Catalogue Essay by Dan Rule

“There’s a particular acuteness to the various strands, cues and counterpoints informing Petrina Hicks’ by now extensive body of work. Her highly keyed brand of hyperrealism is at once incisive in tenor and rich in historical, referential and allegorical depth.

An obvious vantage has long been that of the advertised image. Hicks’ subjects, palette and props are enveloped in a slickened and stunningly sickening sheen that is all too familiar. Augmented, buffed and polished, her works are traces of the highly aestheticised and fetishistic images that proliferate throughout the popular visual language. The skin, hair, clothing, surface and light assume an all but unsettling patina. The index is set askew amid the insidious markers of style and desire.

But Hicks’ highly constructed images aren’t mere transgressions of what has become a gleaming vernacular form. Every encroachment into the frame, every flat, luridly coloured backdrop has an implication and a consequence. In previous works, she has broached creation mythologies; she has recast religious subplots and in gloss and saccharine. Her 2011 series Hippy and the Snake – which comprised a painstakingly realised 25-minute video work alongside a collection of large-scale photographs – might have been read as a flirtation with Eve’s dalliance with the serpent in a re-imagined Garden of Eden.

Sex, birth and death also lurk amid Hicks’ latest series of images, presented as the central strand of her Selected Photographs exhibition. Set against a muted, neutral backdrop, these large-format photographs broach both the portrait and the still life, teasing out a taxonomy of sensuous allegories and sinister omens. In the somewhat aptly titled Bird Fingers, a young girl intently studies her fingertips, each of which is adorned with a tiny bird’s skull, as if a finger puppet or a jewel. That the girl’s expression is neither one of fear nor admiration – but rather, a measured intrigue – gives this work a fascinating twist. Her reaction to death is unlearned; she studies and surveys and pieces together the evidence. Another work, The Hand That Feeds, sees another young protagonist calmly offering her palm to a crow – an avian so often cast with the pall of death.

Venus, meanwhile, sees a woman hold a glossy, pink conch shell – fleshy and open – before her face as if a beacon. The accompanying Birth of Venus is a still life comprising a conflation of symbologies and references. An overfilled champagne glass perches beside the aforementioned shell, a string of pearls draped across and within its span. It delves deep into both art and socio-feminist history. While the pearl has long invoked purity and femininity throughout mythology, the conch engenders that of fertility. But these works also echo with a more contemporary resonance – one perhaps found in second-wave feminism. While the champagne might be read as an allusion to upward mobility and financial independence, the string pearls almost resemble birth control pills (perhaps an allegory for the emancipation of the female reproductive organs?). In New Age, a jagged crystal takes the place of pubic hair, resting hard and sharp against the softness and fragility of the flesh. This symbol for healing only works to amplify the vulnerability of the body. That Hicks’ engages with such themes in 2013 points to the folly of complacency. The notion that we can sleep in the wake of  feminism is bogus, null and void.

Indeed, Hicks’ retrieval and reinterpretation of mythologies and social precedents suggests that history repeats. While her images of children suggest minds unsullied by the scourge of learned prejudices and social mores, Venus and her like describe the continuum of the sexualised male gaze. That Hicks’ co-opts a visual language so often used to hock products and desires serves as the ultimate repost. Human complexity can continue to exist, even amid the cycle and the cynicism of the commercial artifice.”

.

.

Installation view of 'Petrina Hicks: Selected Photographs, 2013' at Helen Gory Galerie

Installation view of 'Petrina Hicks: Selected Photographs, 2013' at Helen Gory Galerie

Installation view of 'Petrina Hicks: Selected Photographs, 2013' at Helen Gory Galerie

.

Installation views of Petrina Hicks: Selected Photographs, 2013 at Helen Gory Galerie

.

Petrina Hicks. 'Enigma' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
Enigma
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 100cm

.

Petrina Hicks. 'The Hand That Feeds' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
The Hand That Feeds
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 220cm

.

Petrina Hicks. 'The Beauty of History' 2010

.

Petrina Hicks
The Beauty of History
2010
Pigment print, Edition of 8
85 x 85cm

.

Petrina Hicks. 'New Age' 2013

.

Petrina Hicks
New Age
2013
Pigment print, Edition of 8
100 x 220cm

.

.

Helen Gory Galerie
25, St. Edmonds Road,
Prahran, Vic 3181

Opening hours:
Wed – Fri 11 – 5pm
Sat 10 – 4pm

Helen Gory Galerie website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

07
Nov
12

Exhibition: ‘Eminent & Enigmatic: 10 aspects of Alan Turing’ at the Heinz Nixdorf Museums Forum, Paderborn

Exhibition dates: 11th January – 16th December 2012

.

One of the greatest minds of the 20th century (code breaking, computers, intelligent machines, artificial intelligence), persecuted to death for being a homosexual. In 2010 there is an apology for Turing’s conviction as a homosexual: Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks for the British people when he says that he is sorry for the treatment meted out to Alan Turing:

“You deserved so much better!”

.
Better late than never.

Many thankx to the Heinz Nixdorf Museums Forum for allowing me to publish some of the photographs in the posting. I have supplemented their media images with other images that can be found on the Internet: the plugboard of an Enigma machine, a logic machine by Gisbert Hasenjäger, the Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), installation photographs of Hello, world! by Yunchul Kim, Alan Turing with two colleagues at the Ferranti Mark I computer and installation photograph of Love Letters_1.0 by David Link.

All photographs have been attributed where possible. The use of these photographs has led to an infinitely better posting that gives a greater insight into the exhibition, the work of the brilliant Alan Turing, and other work based on his ideas. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

.

.

.

Model of a U-boat (Unterseeboot) used in the film Das Boot and multimedia screens at the exhibition

.

.

Enigma machine lampboard and keyboard detail

.

.

Enigma machine rotor detail

.

.

Enigma and the Battle of the Atlantic

1939. The UK Government Code and Cipher School appoints one of the country’s best mathematicians, Alan Turing, to a post at its Bletchley Park headquarters, where the German enemy’s intercepted radio messages are to be deciphered. Operation ULTRA begins.

1940. The Atlantic becomes a major theatre of war, with German submarines attacking Allied supply lines. This first topic examines the secret communications between German submarines and the naval  high command in Berlin. Messages are encrypted using the Enigma machine. They are intercepted at British listening posts and sent to Bletchley Park to be deciphered.

The HNF is exhibiting the original model of the submarine from the film Das Boot, as well as a Marine 4-rotor Enigma. Further prominent exhibits which help relate this exciting story include radio technology items, codebooks and an interactive cipher rotor.

.

.

A three-rotor Enigma machine with (from below rotors), lampboard, keyboard and plugboard (front of machine)

.
The Enigma was an electro-mechanical rotor machine used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. It was developed in Germany in the 1920s. The repeated changes of the electrical pathway from the keyboard to the lampboard implemented a polyalphabetic substitution cipher, which turned plaintext into ciphertext and back again. Used properly, this provided a very high degree of security. The Enigma’s scrambler contained rotors with 26 electrical contacts on each side, whose wiring diverted the current to a different position on the two sides. On depressing a key on the keyboard, an electrical current flowed through an entry drum at the right-hand end of the scrambler, then through the set of rotors to a reflecting drum (or reflector) which turned it back through the rotors and entry drum, and out to cause one lamp on the lampboard to be illuminated.

At each key depression, at least one of the rotors (the right-hand or “fast” rotor) advanced one position, which caused the encipherment to alter. At a certain point, the right-hand rotor caused the middle rotor to advance and in a similar way, the middle rotor caused the left-hand (or “slow”) rotor to advance. Each rotor caused the “turnover” of the rotor to its left after a full rotation. The Enigma operator could rotate the wheels by hand to change the letter of the alphabet showing through a window, to set the start position of the rotors for enciphering a message. This three-letter sequence was “message key”. There were 26 × 26 × 26 = 17,576 possible positions of the set of three rotors, and hence different message keys. By opening the lid of the machine and releasing a compression bar, the set of three rotors on their spindle could be removed from the machine and their sequence (called the “wheel order” at Bletchley Park) could be altered. Multiplying 17,576 by the six possible wheel orders gives 105,456 different ways that the scrambler could be set up.

Text from Wikipedia

.

.

The plugboard of an Enigma machine, showing two pairs of letters swapped: S↔O and J↔A. During World War II, ten plugboard connections were made. The plugboard (Steckerbrett) is positioned at the front of the machine, below the keys. When in use, there can be up to 13 connections.

Photograph from Wikipedia under Creative Commons GNU Free Documentation License

.

.

.

National Codes Centre and the National Museum of Computing (contemporary)
Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) (World War Tw0)
Bletchley Park
Buckinghamshire, England

.

.

British Tabulating Machine Company
Turing Bombe wiring at back (detail)
1940-1945

.

.

The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park

Up to 10,000 people are working hard to decipher German radio messages at Bletchley Park, and Alan Turing is one of their leading lights. He achieves the crucial breakthrough: his decryption device known as the Bombe can calculate Enigma code settings automatically, quickly and reliably. The rotors of up to 200 Bombes now run day and night, with radio messages able to be cracked within hours, while they are still of military relevance. This gives Winston Churchill and his military officers in London a priceless advantage.

The second topic of the HNF Turing year includes exhibits not previously seen in Germany, such as components of an original US Bombe owned by the NSA as well as loans of a functional checking machine and Bombe rotors from Bletchley Park. The entire communications chain is presented to visitors, from the German submarine radio operator all the way to the clear text message received by the British Prime Minister.

.

.

British Tabulating Machine Company
Turing Bombe
1940-1945
7 feet (2.1 m) wide, 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall, 2 feet (0.61 m) deep

.
The working rebuilt bombe at Bletchley Park museum. Each of the rotating drums simulates the action of an Enigma rotor. There are 36 Enigma-equivalents and, on the right hand end of the middle row, three indicator drums. John Harper led the ‘Phoenix’ team that built this. It was officially switched on by the Duke of Kent, patron of the British Computer Society on 17 July 2008.

.

.

British Tabulating Machine Company
Turing Bombe rotors (detail)
1940-1945

.

.

“The international scientific focus in 2012 will be firmly on Alan Turing. This legendary British mathematician and computer pioneer was born in London on 23 June 1912. His 100th birthday will be marked by numerous events, primarily in his native country, but also in the USA, Brazil, China and elsewhere. Germany’s Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn is to pay tribute to the achievements of this equally academic and awkward scientist with an ambitious exhibition entitled Eminent & enigmatic – 10 aspects of Alan Turing. Its aim is to present Alan Turing’s outstanding achievements to visitors in the form of original exhibits and innovative and artistic installations alike.

Turing’s research made a huge contribution towards deciphering German radio messages encrypted using the Enigma machine during World War II. Thus he played a vital role in the Battle of the Atlantic, as well as in other major theatres of war. His theoretical work, which still forms the basis of information technology to this day, is equally significant. While his contemporaries could not see beyond the pure calculating capabilities of the computer, Turing designed the model of a universal machine capable of solving every algorithmic problem.

The exhibition at the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum will focus on Turing’s achievements in breaking the Enigma code and his basic work as a computer and computer science pioneer, while also shedding light on his views on the subjects of artificial intelligence and spacial pattern formation, as well as on the tragedy of his untimely death and his legacy.

This marks the first time that an exhibition will be shown in stages, with the ten exhibition topics portrayed in successive monthly presentations. The exhibition will open on 10 January 2012 with the topic Enigma and the Battle of the Atlantic. It will be followed as of 14 February with exhibits and presentations on The code breakers of Bletchley Park, the UK’s National Codes and Cipher Centre during World War II. The remaining topics will also be shown for a period of around one month until the exhibition closes on 16 December 2012.

“The multi-part exhibition format will allow us to provide our visitors with insights into aspects of Alan Turing’s life and works all year long,” said HNF managing director and project manager Norbert Ryska of this unusual approach in the first public presentation of EMINENT & ENIGMATIC. “This was the only way to attract significant and highly sought-after loans from at home and abroad, including exhibits from the US National Security Agency, the Science Museum in London, Bletchley Park and IBM. So regular visits to the HNF will be more worthwhile than ever in 2012.”

The exhibition will be held in a specially constructed pavilion in the foyer. In addition to the technical and scientific exhibits, artistic installations are to shed light on Alan Turing’s work and thinking. “We want to pay tribute to Alan Turing with a series of presentations because he was the mastermind of the digital age as well as an exceptional personality,” said Ryska of the exhibition concept. Turing’s achievements will open up several unusual avenues into the HNF permanent exhibition. It can be accessed via a special Turing tour and workshops for schools, making the special exhibition a great stepping stone into the world’s biggest computer museum, in which a section in the Hall of Fame has been dedicated to Turing since its opening in 1996.

Turing, who died on 7 June 1954 under mysterious circumstances, has only been properly appreciated by the public at large during recent years, although experts have sung his praises for decades. In 1952 Alan Turing was sentenced to a degrading 12-month course of oestrogen treatment designed to combat his homosexuality. He took his own life by eating a cyanide-laced apple one year after completion of the treatment, on 7 June 1954.

.
Exhibition topics and selected exhibits

  • 11.1.-12.2.2012 Enigma and the Battle of the Atlantic (Enigma, submarine model, radio equipment)
  • 15.2.-11.3.2012 The code breakers of Bletchley Park (Enigma, Bombe drums, Enigma rotor model)
  • 14.3.-8.4.2012 The Turing test (model of the brain, Turing test terminal)
  • 11.4.-6.5.2012 From Turbochamp to Deep Blue (Deep Blue Chip/Board, Turing chess engine)
  • 9.5.-8.7.2012 The history of intelligent machines (Robo Thespian)
  • 28.7.-26.8.2012 The Turing machine (HNF functional model, historic Turing machine)
  • 29.8.-23.9.2012 Pattern formation (Interactive Plant Growing)
  • 26.9.-21.10.2012 The Pilot ACE computer (UNIVAC delay line memory, Pilot ACE component)
  • 24.10.-18.11.2012 Love Letters/Mark I (installation by David Link)
  • 21.11.-16.12.2012 Tragedy and legacy – Turing today (Turing Award)

.
Short biography of Alan Turing (1912-1954)

Alan Turing was born on 23 June 2012 in London. From 1931 to 1934 he studied mathematics at King’s College, Cambridge, where he was elected a fellow in 1935. During World War II he worked at the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park, developing methods of deciphering German radio messages encrypted using the Enigma machine. At the end of the war Turing turned his attention towards computer development, first at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington (1945-47), where he developed the concept of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE), and then (as of 1948) as deputy director of the computing laboratory at Manchester University.

Although Alan Turing did not have too deep an impact on the invention of the first computers in the 1940s and 1950s, his theoretical concepts earned him a place in computer history: The Turing machine still provides an important basis for research into theoretical computer science today, and the Turing test proposed by him in 1950 in response to the question “Can machines think?” lent impetus to the development of artificial intelligence.

Turing, who died on 7 June 1954 under mysterious circumstances, has only been properly appreciated by the public at large during recent years, although experts have sung his praises for decades. In 1952 Alan Turing was sentenced to a degrading 12-month course of oestrogen treatment designed to combat his homosexuality. He took his own life by eating a cyanide-laced apple one year after completion of the treatment, on 7 June 1954.

In 2010 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his regret at Turing’s persecution on behalf of the British Government and paid tribute to his exceptional contribution during World War II. US President Barack Obama placed Turing on a par with Newton, Darwin and Einstein during his recent state visit to London.”

Text from the HNF website

.

.

.

British Tabulating Machine Company
Turing Bombe (details)
1940-1945
7 feet (2.1 m) wide, 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m) tall, 2 feet (0.61 m) deep

.

.

The Turing Test

In 1950 Alan Turing proposes a new type of test. He is researching the question of when a machine can be described as “intelligent”, using the human brain as a model. According to the Turing test, a machine is intelligent if it can convince a human interlocutor that it is itself “human”. This deception must succeed with the required frequency in repeated tests.

.

From Turochamp to Deep Blue

What do the contemporary luminaries Konrad Zuse, Claude Shannon, John von Neumann and Alan Turing have in common? They all want to play chess against calculating machines that they themselves have devised. But the history of computer chess began as early as the end of the 19th century, when Spanish engineer Torres Quevedo presented a chess-playing automaton whose rook and king could reliably checkmate the opponent’s king. The fourth topic is all about computer chess.

Turing defines his own rules for a chess algorithm, but his Turochamp program loses its first game in 1952 – played “by hand,” rather than run on a computer – against his friend Alick Glennie. It is not until 1997 that reigning chess world champion Garry Kasparov is defeated by a calculating machine, in the form of the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. The HNF is exhibiting original hardware from the machine and the original chessboard from this “final” game in the Turing pavilion – the first time these have been on show in Germany.

.

.

Processor board of Deep Blue, 1997

.

.

.

The History of Intelligent Machines

“Can machines think?” It is 1950 when Alan Turing asks this provocative question and founds a new field of research along with significant contemporaries of the likes of Claude Shannon, Norbert Wiener and Joseph Weizenbaum: that of “artificial intelligence (AI).” To this day, the development of the “intelligent machine” has been marked by excessive expectations as well as important advancements.

The humanoid robot RoboThespian relates the history of AI as the fifth topic of our Turing year. RoboThespian is a prominent visitor to the Turing pavilion. With his love of theatrical appearances, he is more than happy to answer questions or cheekily imitate the gestures of visitors. An entire section of the permanent exhibition is devoted to AI and robotics. Our networked computers are becoming more powerful all the time. It is still unclear when precisely a team of robots will beat the human world champions – an event predicted by experts for some time.

.

The Turing Machine

Mathematician Kurt Gödel turns the world of numbers on its head in 1931, when he proves that there are some logical statements that are neither true nor false. Inspired by this revolutionary finding, Alan Turing takes up the baton and publishes the concept of the Turing machine in 1936. He demonstrates that his simple but universal theoretical machines can calculate everything that can be calculated by any machine or computer.

The HNF has built a mechanical Turing machine that can be tried and tested by visitors to the Turing pavilion. The logic machines of the Münster School are on show for the first time ever: in the 1960s Gisbert Hasenjäger and Dieter Rödding use spare parts from the German Federal Post Office to construct somewhat bizarre devices for logical calculations (see photographs below).

.

.

.

Gisbert Hasenjäger
Logic machine
c. 1960s

.
A logic machine by Gisbert Hasenjäger based on Turing’s work
Provided by Family Hasenjäger
Photographs from “Intelligenz ist ein soziales Produkt: Alan Mathison Turing zum 100. Geburtstag” on the Heise online website

Die Turing-Maschine ist im Grunde keine konkrete Konstruktion, sondern ein mathematisches Konzept zum Nachweis der algorithmischen Berechenbarkeit einer Funktion. Dennoch sind anhand von Turings Arbeiten sehenswerte konstruktionstechnische Umsetzungen entstanden (The Turing machine has basically no concrete construction, but a mathematical concept for the detection of algorithmic computability of a function. Nevertheless, based on Turing’s work remarkable constructional reactions are caused).

.

.

The Automatic Computing Engine (ACE)

The war is over, with Germany having been defeated by the Allies. Alan Turing makes the transition from codebreaker to computer pioneer at the National Physical Laboratory. He designs the Automatic Computing Engine, known as ACE, entirely on his own. New features of this vacuum tube computer include its delay-line memories – very fast memories for digital data and programs. James H. Wilkinson builds the machine and presents the Pilot ACE builds the machine and presents the Pilot ACE to the public in 1950 as the world’s fastest computer.

At this point, Turing is already working on his next groundbreaking computer project, a new computer for the University of Manchester. The eighth topic is all about the new memory technology of the ACE. How can data be saved as sound waves? This question is answered not only with the help of an original ACE component, but also via the artistic installation Hello, world by Yunchul Kim, a three-metre sculpture made from copper pipes. This object acts as an analogue memory location for digital data.

.

.

Alan Turing (designer)
James H. Wilkinson (builder)
Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) (Science Museum, London)
1950
Photograph by Antoine Taveneaux from Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

.
The Pilot ACE had 1450 thermionic valves (vacuum tubes), and used mercury delay lines for its main memory. Each of the 12 delay lines could store 32 instructions or data words of 32 bits. This ran its first program on May 10, 1950, at which time it was the fastest computer in the world with a clock speed of 1MHz.

.

.

.

Yunchul Kim
Hello, world!
2006
Prix Ars Electronica 2006, Honorary Mention Interactive Art
Photographs from Marc Wathieu’s Flickr photostream
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

.
Hello, world! is an interesting take on long- and short-lived data storage media. It uses acoustic signals to store data. A codified auditory signal (feedback) circulates in a closed system consisting of a computer, a loudspeaker, 246 meters of copper tubing and a microphone. Due to the acoustic delay in the tubing system, it’s possible to save data, whereby the rule is: the longer the copper tubing, the longer the time delay and the greater the memory capacity. In addition to this a screen shows a visual representation of the information traveling around the system. If a participant makes noises near the installation or hits the copper piping it interferes with the audio signal loop.

There is some instability in the system. If you go up to the sculpture you can hear the sounds (every sign of the ASCII code has its own sine wave frequency thus translating it in an acoustic signal) travelling through the copper piping. But a loud noise in the exhibition space or a vibrational disturbance from passing traffic or low frequency rumble effects the lettering on the screen and the text and Hello, World! starts to tremble as the quality of the signal degenerates and recovers.

.

.

Love Letters from a Machine

While in Manchester, Alan Turing writes the programming manual for the Ferranti Mark I, an early British digital computer, and trains staff as programmers. The Mark I no longer saves data and programs on punched tape, but instead uses a new system of a line of dots on a Williams tube display. Its storage capacity, which was huge for the time, gave users plenty of scope for new experiments, such as initial chess and draughts programs as well as digital musical  compositions. The penultimate topic in our Alan Turing year includes a display of the interactive installation Love Letters by David Link, who has created a fully functioning replica of the Ferranti Mark I using original components. The machine program generates personal love letters with the help of an algorithm. Christopher Strachey originally wrote the code for the love letters program in the 1950s.

.

.

Alan Turing with two colleagues at the Ferranti Mark I computer
1951
Photograph from the Love Letters website

.

.

.

David Link
Love Letters_1.0. MUC=Resurrection. A Memorial
2009 -
Photographs from the Love Letters website

.
From August 1953 to May 1954 strange love-letters appeared on the notice board of Manchester University’s Computer Department:

DARLING SWEETHEART
YOU ARE MY AVID FELLOW FEELING. MY AFFECTION CURIOUSLY CLINGS TO YOUR PASSIONATE WISH. MY LIKING YEARNS FOR YOUR HEART. YOU ARE MY WISTFUL SYMPATHY: MY TENDER LIKING.
YOURS BEAUTIFULLY
M. U. C.

The acronym M.U.C. stood for “Manchester University Computer”, the earliest electronic, programmable and universal calculating machine worldwide; the fully functional prototype was completed in June 1948 and was based on Williams tubes as means of volatile storage. One of the very first software developers, Christopher Strachey (1916-1975), had used the built-in random generator of the Ferranti Mark I, the first industrially produced computer of this kind, to generate texts that are intended to express and arouse emotions.

.

.

Tragedy and Legacy: “You deserved so much better!”

Alan Turing dies at not quite 42 years of age, after eating a poisoned apple, as in the fairytale. His incredibly influential body of work remains, and has left its mark on the discipline known as computer science today. The tenth and final topic looks back on the Alan Turing year of 2012. For twelve months, Turing has been the focus of international conferences, events and exhibitions, which the HNF now reviews. We follow in Turing’s footsteps, visiting places where he worked and where his presence is still felt.

At the end comes an apology for Turing’s conviction as a homosexual: in 2010 Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks for the British people when he says that he is sorry for the treatment meted out to Alan Turing: “You deserved so much better.” Queen Elizabeth visits Bletchley Park in 2011. The Turing Award is now the biggest of its kind in the world of computer science.

.

.

Elliott & Fry
Alan Mathison Turing
1951

.
Alan Turing at the time of his election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society.
Photograph was taken at the Elliott & Fry studio on 29 March 1951.

.

.

Heinz Nixdorf Museums Forum
Fürstenallee 7
33102 Paderborn
Tel: +49 (0) 5251-306-600

Opening hours:
Tues – Fri 9 am – 6 pm
Sat, Sun 10 am – 6 pm
Closed on Monday

Heinz Nixdorf Museums Forum website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

20
Oct
12

Review: ‘Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place’ at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 28th September – 11th November 2012

.

.

.

Installation photographs of the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

.

.

Details of one of Gregory Crewdson’s works from the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

.

.

“The American middle-class nightmare: nothing is clean, orderly, idyllic, or romantic. In his perfectly staged, hyperrealistic tableaux, photographer Gregory Crewdson reveals the claustrophobic limbo and abyss of spiritual repression that is the typical suburb. Here, hushed-up violence, alienation, isolation, and emptiness are nothing new or unfamiliar, but rather part of the everyday neighbourhood experience.”

.
Gregory Crewdson, In a Lonely Place, Abrams Publishing, New York, 2011

.
“I have always been fascinated by the poetic condition of twilight. By its transformative quality. Its power of turning the ordinary into something magical and otherworldly. My wish is for the narrative in the pictures to work within that circumstance. It is that sense of in-between-ness that interests me.”

.
Gregory Crewdson

.

.
Downfall of a dream: (n)framing the enigma in Gregory Crewdson’s
Beneath the Roses

After the excoriating, unreasonably subjective diatribe by Robert Nelson in The Age newspaper (“Unreal stills, unmoving images” Wednesday October 17 2012) I hope this piece of writing will offer greater insight into the work of this internationally renowned artist. With some reservations, I like Crewsdon’s work, I like it a lot – as do the crowds of people flocking to the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Fitzroy to see the exhibition. Never have I seen so many people at the CCP looking at contemporary photography before and that can only be a good thing.

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. The early series Fireflies are small silver gelatin photographs that capture “the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night.” These are minor works that fail to transcend the ephemeral nature of photography, fail to light the imagination of the viewer when looking at these scenes of dusky desire and discontinuous lives. The series of beautiful photographs titled Sanctuary (2010) evidence the “ruin of the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini.” Wonderful photographs of doorways, temples, dilapidated stage sets with excellent use of soft miasmic light creating an atmosphere of de/generation (as though a half-remembered version of Rome had passed down through the generations) interfaced with contemporary Rome as backdrop. The digital prints show no strong specular highlights, no deep blacks but a series of transmutable grey and mid tones that add to the overall feeling of romantic ruin. It is a pity that these photographs are not printed as silver gelatin photographs, for they would have had much more depth of feeling than they presently possess. They just feel a little “thin” to me to sustain the weight of atmosphere required of them.

But it is the series Beneath the Roses (2003-2008) that has made Crewdson truly famous. Shot using a large format camera, Crewdson makes large-scale photographs of elaborate and meticulously staged tableaux, which have been described as “micro-epics” that probe the dark corners of the psyche. Working in the manner of a film director, he leads a production crew, which includes a director of photography, special effects and lighting teams, casting director and actors. He typically makes several exposures that he later digitally combines to produce the final image. Photographs in the series of “brief encounters” include external dioramas (shot in a down at heel Western Massachusetts town), where Crewdson shuts down streets and lights the whole scene; to interior dialogues where houses are built on sound stages and the artist can control every detail of the production. Influences on these works include, but are not limited to:

David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks), Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo), Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters), the paintings of Edward Hopper, Diane Arbus (the detritus of her photographic interiors), film noir, psychoanalysis, American suburbia, the American dream, the photographs of Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and surrealism. Concepts that you could link to the work include loneliness, alienation, apathy, resignation, mystery, contemplation and confusion, identity, desire, memory and imagination.

.
Now to the nuts and bolts of the matter.

Another major influence that I will add is that of the great Italian director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita – The Sweet Life) who shot most of that film on the sets at Cinecittà studios in Rome. It is perhaps no coincidence that Crewdson, on his first overseas film shoot, shot the series Sanctuary at the very same location. Crewdson’s photographs in the series Beneath the Roses are an American form of  “The Sweet Life.” In 1961, the New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther praised Fellini’s “brilliantly graphic estimation of a whole swath of society in sad decay and, eventually, a withering commentary on the tragedy of the over-civilized… Fellini is nothing if not fertile, fierce and urbane in calculating the social scene around him and packing it onto the screen. He has an uncanny eye for finding the offbeat and grotesque incident, the gross and bizarre occurrence that exposes a glaring irony. He has, too, a splendid sense of balance and a deliciously sardonic wit that not only guided his cameras but also affected the writing of the script. In sum, it is an awesome picture, licentious in content but moral and vastly sophisticated in its attitude and what it says.”1 The same could equally be said of the Crewdson and his masterpieces in Beneath the Roses. Crewdson is in love with Fellini’s gesture – of the uplifting of the characters and their simultaneous descent into “sweet” hedonism, debauchery and decadence using the metaphor of downfall (downfall links each scene in La Dolce Vita, that of a “downward spiral that Marcello sets in motion when descending the first of several staircases (including ladders) that open and close each major episode.”)2 Crewdson’s “spectacular apocalypses of social enervation”3 mimic Fellini’s gestural flourishes becoming Crewdson’s theme of America’s downfall, America as a moral wasteland. Crewdson’s is “an aesthetic of disparity” that builds up a cumulative impression on the viewer that finds resolution in an “overpowering sense of the disparity between what life has been or could be, and what it actually is.”4

Crewdson’s cinematic encounters are vast and pin sharp when seen in the flesh. No reproduction on the web can do their physical presence justice; it is the details that delight in these productions. You have to get up close and personal with the work. His dystopic landscapes are not narratives as such, not stills taken from a movie (for that implies an ongoing story) but open-ended constructions that allow the viewer to imagine the story for themselves. They do not so much evoke a narrative as invite the viewer to create one for themselves – they are an “invitation” to a narrative, one that explores the anxiety of the (American) imagination, an invitation to empathise with the dramas at play within contemporary environments. For me, Crewdson’s extra ordinary photographs are a form of enigma (a puzzling or inexplicable occurrence or situation), the picture as master puzzle (where all the pieces fit perfectly together in stillness) that contains a riddle or hidden meaning. Clues to this reading can be found in one of the photographs from the series (Blue Period, see detail image, above) where Crewdson deliberately leaves the door of a bedside cupboard open to reveal a “Perfect PICTURE PUZZLE” box inside. The viewer has to really look into the image and understand the significance of this artefact.

Another reading that I have formulated is of the transience of space and time within Crewdson’s series. In the disquieting, anonymous townscapes people look out from their porches (or the verandas are lit and empty), they abandon their cars or walk down desolate streets hardly ever looking directly out at the viewer. The photographs become sites of mystery and wonder hardly anchored (still precisely anchored?) in time and space. This disparity is emphasised in the interior dialogues. The viewer (exterior) looks at a framed doorway or window (exterior) looking into an scene (interior) where the walls are usually covered with floral wallpaper (interior / exterior) upon which hangs a framed image of a Monet-like landscape (exterior) (see detail image, above). Exterior, exterior, interior, interior / exterior, exterior. The trees of the landscape invade the home but are framed; exterior/framed, interior/mind. There is something mysterious going on here, some reflection of an inner state of mind.

In his visual mosaics Crewdson engages our relationship with time and space to challenge the trace of experience. His tableaux act as a kind of threshold or hinge of experience – between interior and exterior, viewer and photograph. His photographs are a form of monism in which two forces (interior / exterior) try to absorb each other but ultimately lead to a state of equilibrium. It is through this “play” that the context of the photographs and their relationship to each other and the viewer are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic as much as information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the body, the world of which it is part and the dream-reason of time.5 This intertextual (n)framing (n meaning unspecified number in mathematics) encourages the viewer to explore the inbetween spaces in the non-narrative / meta-narrative,”and by leaps (intuitive leaps, poetic leaps, leaps of faith)”6 encourage escapism in the imagination of the viewer. It is up to us as viewers to seek the multiple, disparate significances of what is concealed in each photograph as “felt knowledge” (Walter Benjamin), recalling to mind the sensory data placed before our eyes, something that can be experienced but cannot be explained by man: “the single moment of the present amidst the transience of life and searching for some kind of eternal truth.”7

Finally, in a more adverse reading of the photographs from the series Beneath the Roses, I must acknowledge the physically (not mentally) static nature of the images where every detail of the mise-en-scène is fully articulated and locked down: from the perfect trickle of blood running from the woman’s vagina in Blue Period, to the reflections in mirrors, the detritus of living scattered on the bedroom floor, the dirty telephone, packed suitcases and keys in locks to the desolate looks of the participants that never engage with the viewer. Despite allusions of despair, in their efficacy (their static and certain world order), there is no real chthonic madness here, no real messiness of the capture of death, murder and the wastage of human life (famine, AIDS, cancer or the blood running over the pavement in one of Weegee’s murder scenes for example). This is Fellini’s gross and bizarre LITE. Americurbana “is being addressed with the same reserve and elegance that ensures that the institution – artistic, political, what you will – is upheld and never threatened. It is pre-eminently legible, it elicits guilt but not so much as to cause offence.”8 I must also acknowledge the male-orientated viewpoint of the photographs, where men are seated, clothed, lazy or absent and all too often women are doing the washing or cooking, are naked and vulnerable. In their portrayal of (usually) half dressed or naked females the photographs evidence a particularly male view of the world, one that his little empathy or understanding of how a female actually lives in the world. For me this portrait of the feminine simply does not work. The male photographer maintains control (and power) by remaining resolutely (in)visible.

Overall this is a outstanding exhibition that thoroughly deserves that accolades it is receiving. Sitting in the gallery space for an hour and a half and soaking up the atmosphere of these magnificent works has been for me one of the art experiences of 2012. Make sure that you do not miss these mesmerising prophecies.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

.
Many thankx to the artist, Gagosian Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Special thankx to Director of the CCP Naomi Cass and Ms. James McKee from Gagosian Gallery for facilitating the availability of the media images. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

All photographs © Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

Installation and detail photographs Dr Marcus Bunyan

.

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

“In a Lonely Place presents selections from three major series by Gregory Crewdson, Fireflies (1996), Beneath the Roses (2003-2008), Sanctuary (2010) and, presented for the first time, the video Field Notes (2009). The exhibition title comes from Nicholas Ray’s 1950s film noir of the same name, one of many films that inspired Crewdson. In a Lonely Place is evocative of an underlying mood-a quiet feeling of alienation and loneliness that links the three series selected by curators Estelle Af Malmborg, Jens Erdman Rasmussen and Felix Hoffmann. In a Lonely Place presents the first comprehensive exhibition of Crewdson’s work in Australia.

In Beneath the Roses, anonymous townscapes, forest clearings and broad, desolate streets are revealed as sites of mystery and wonder; similarly, ostensibly banal interiors become the staging grounds for strange human scenarios. Crewdson’s scenes are tangibly atmospheric: visually alluring and often deeply disquieting. Never anchored precisely in time or place, these and the other narratives of Beneath the Roses are located in the dystopic landscape of the anxious American imagination. Crewdson explores the American psyche and the dramas at play within quotidian environments.

In his most recent series, Sanctuary (2010), Crewdson has taken a new direction, shooting for the first time outside the US. During a trip to Rome, he visited the legendary Cinecittà studios, which was founded by Mussolini in the 1930s and is associated with the great Italian film director Federico Fellini. Crewdson discovered fragments of a past glory, with occasional unexpected views of the surrounding contemporary Roman suburbia. Cinecittà is a lonely place deserted by the film crews who once used the site to recreate settings of ancient Rome, medieval Italy and nineteenth-century New York.

In the intimate photographs of Fireflies, Crewdson portrays the mating ritual of fireflies at dusk, capturing the tiny insects’ transient moments of light as they illuminate the summer night. Unlike the theatrical scale of the Beneath the Roses and Sanctuary series, Fireflies is a quiet meditation on the nature of light and desire, as the images reflect not only upon the fleeting movements of the insects in their intricate mating ritual, but upon the notion of photography itself, in capturing a single ephemeral moment.

Gregory Crewdson received a BA from the State University of New York, Purchase, New York in 1985 and an MFA in Photography from Yale School of Art, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut in 1988. He has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. He is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Photography at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. Gregory Crewdson is represented by Gagosian Gallery and White Cube Gallery.”

Press release from the Gagosian Gallery website

.

.

.

Installation photographs the series Sanctuary (2010) from the exhibition Gregory Crewdson: In A Lonely Place at the Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP), Fitzroy, Melbourne (Photos: Dr Marcus Bunyan)

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

© Gregory Crewdson. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

.

.

.

1. Crowther’s review first published in The New York Times, April 20, 1961. In Fava and Vigano, 105 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

2. Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

3. Sultanik, Aaron. Film, a Modern Art. Cranbury, N.J: Cornwall Books, 1986, p.408

4. Richardson, Robert. “Waste Lands: The Breakdown of Order,” in Bondanella (ed.), Federico Fellini: Essays in Criticism, p.111 quoted in Anon. “La Dolce Vita,” on Wikipedia Footnote 30 [Online] Cited 20/10/2012.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dolce_Vita

5. Bacon, Julie Louise. “Liquid Archive: On Ambivalence,” in Liquid Archive. Melbourne: Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), 2012, p.119

6. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. “The Museum – A Refuge for Utopian Thought,” in Rüsen, Jörn; Fehr Michael, and Ramsbrock, Annelie (eds.). Die Unruhe der Kultur: Potentiale des Utopischen. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2004. In German.

7. Kataoka, Mami commenting on the work of Allan Kaprow. “Transient Encounters,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.174

8. Geczy, Adam. “A dish served lukewarm,” in Broadsheet: Criticism, Theory, Art Vol 41.3, September 2012, p.177

.

.

Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy
Victoria 3065, Australia
T: + 61 3 9417 1549

Opening Hours:
Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Sunday, 1pm – 5pm

Gagosian Gallery website

Centre for Contemporary Photography website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top




Join 1,131 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

For photographic services in Australia, Art Blart highly recommends CPL Digital (03) 8376 8376 cpldigital.com.au/

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘The Songs of Eternity’ 1994

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

September 2014
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  

Archives

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,131 other followers