MAPPING THE FRONTIERS OF HIGH FINANCE

April 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

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As part of this event occurring at the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) in London on Saturday, April 25th, Mark Curran has been invited to present on his practice-led research in relation to THE MARKET.

The intention of this, the first of a series, is to

bring together anthropologists, accountancy scholars, literature scholars and artists using anthropological concepts and ethnographic methods in their work…to explore past, present and possible artistic techniques for visualizing information in capital markets, tracking offshore financial flows, and mapping relatedness among financial elites.

Other contributors include, Brett Scott (co-organiser), Paolo Quattrone, Femke Herregraven, Paul Crosthwaite, Paolo Cirio, Gemma Aellah & Paul Gilbert (co-organiser).

Final programme is available here.
Biographies of all speakers is here.

This is a free event and open to the public. Full details can be found here.

With support from the Institute of Art, Design & Technology (IADT).

(Image: Installation of THE MARKET: A project by Mark Curran, Belfast Exposed Gallery, 2013)

STUDYING UP (from Capital At Work: Methodology in THE MARKET*)

January 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Envelope & Paperclip, December 2011 (Letter from Irish Ambassador to Germany requesting support and project access from Deutsche Börse AG) from THE MARKET, a project by Mark Curran

In the context of a study of power and finance regarding a globalised hegemony, a central methodological reference for THE MARKET has been the proposal by the anthropologist, Laura Naderfor studying up. In her article published in 1972, Nader appealed for a critical repatriated anthropology, through:

principally studying the most powerful strata of urban society…and instead of asking why some people are poor, we would ask why other people are so affluent (1972: 289).

Nader argued that by not ‘studying up’ would limit the ability to form ‘adequate theory and description’ (ibid.: 290) and while she further framed her argument in terms of citizenship and democracy, her appeal has methodological implications, namely, concerning access:

the powerful are out of reach on a number of different planes: they don’t want to be studied; it is dangerous to study the powerful; they are busy people; they are not all in one place, and so on (ibid.: 302).

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Void Visitors Pass, Deutsche Börse AG March 2012, Eschborn (Frankfurt), Germany from THE MARKET, a project by Mark Curran

In such a potentially limiting context, the possibility for long-term engagement in the form of, for example, participant observation can be severely hampered. However, Nader argued that such limitations should not define the subject of research and advocated a more multivariant approach, including the use of personal documents, memoirs, chance encounters, discussion, interviews and public relations documents amongst others. In the context of power, I would assert such limitations regarding access embody significant critical meaning regarding the focus of study. Over 20 years later, the anthropologist, Hugh Gusterson, revisited Nader’s appeal, elaborating for what he defined as a polymorphous engagement (1997: 116):

The ethnography of the powerful needs to consist of interacting with informants across a number of dispersed sites, not just local communities, and sometimes in virtual form; and it means collecting data eclectically from a disparate array of sources in many different ways such as… formal interviews…extensive reading of newspapers and official documents…careful attention to popular culture, as well as informal social events outside of the actual corporate office or laboratory. (ibid.: 116).

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from THE MARKET, Gallery of Photography, Dublin (installation image by Jamin Keogh)

Drawing on Gusterson, the cultural anthropologist, Karen Ho, incorporated such a methodological approach in her excellent study, Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street**, published in 2009. Elaborating on her previous career in investment banking, Ho drew on her personal professional network and included encounters at business events, conferences, college reunions, interviews to simple ‘rich, informal anecdotes gained from chatting’ (2009: 21). Such a methodological engagement regarding an ethnography of the powerful, I would argue, could further critically benefit from representational strategies assembled according to the principle of montage or multivocality as asserted by the visual ethnographer, Sarah Pink – ‘representations that incorporate the multilinearity of research and everyday lives’ (2001: 117). Pink continues regarding such fragmented experience:

reality is, in fact, continuous and subjectively experienced, at best, one can only reconstruct fragments of a subjective experience of reality, representations of knowledge are never complete (ibid.: 167).

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from THE MARKET, Gallery of Photography, Dublin (installation image by Jamin Keogh)

Therefore, to formulate representations of research which are open- ended and to paraphrase Michael Taussig, which is not necessarily about reality but whose effects may be real.

*Extract from Curran, M. (2013) Capital At Work: Methodology in THE MARKET in Kirwan, G. (ed.)(2013) An Anthology of IADT Research, IADT, Dublin, 28 – 37.

** Ho’s central argument is that Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image, and through the construction of the market, result in the manufacture of crises while simultaneously, ‘assuring its rescue’ (2009: 323). In this, as she defines, economy of appearances, Ho outlines operating structures, the significance regarding ‘pedigree’, citizen complicity and the critical role of fear in this culture of liquidity (ibid.).

Conversation (extract) The City, London March 2013

December 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

You have no money in your education system, that’s us (‘the markets’), you have no money in your health system, that’s us…you have no money for culture, that’s us…it’s everything.  (recorded conversation with senior trader, cafe, The City, London, March 2013) from ‪THE MARKET‬.

Full transcripts, THE MARKET (installation image)

Full transcripts, THE MARKET (installation image)

SOUND VISION ACTION 2014 (Update)

December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Shadows, the open illusion of the global economy and the curtain soon to fall.

Gathered in Montreal for ‪#‎SVA2014‬ in November through the energies of the team of Media@McGill, graduate students, Jonathan Sterne, Nicholas Mirzoeff and Tamar Tembeck. The resulting presentations and discussion have now been fully archived. Includes Natalie Bookchin, Caren Kaplan, Negar Mottahedeh, Amelia Jones, Daphne Brooks, Anette Hoffmann, Dont Rhine (Ultra-Red), Karin Bijsterveld, Nathalie Casemajor and Sumanth Gopinath (whom I shared a panel on the theme of Capitalism) amongst others.

This is the The Normalisation of Deviance and the construction of THE MARKET.

Q&A with fellow panellist Sumanth Gopinath (photograph courtesy of Mauricio Delfin)

Q&A with fellow panellist Sumanth Gopinath (photograph courtesy of Mauricio Delfin)

The complete archive of presentations and discussions is available here.

SOUND VISION ACTION 2014

November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

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SOUND VISION ACTION 2014 taking place at McCord Museum in cooperation with McGill University in Montreal on Friday and Saturday, November 14-15. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

This international colloquium has been convened by Prof. Jonathan Sterne (McGill), Prof. Nicholas Mirzoeff (New York University) and Dr. Tamar Tembeck (McGill) with the intention to:

puts contemporary art and scholarship in sound studies and visual culture in direct dialogue around questions of power and politics.

It is organised through Media@McGill, a hub of research, scholarship and public outreach on issues and controversies in media, technology and culture, housed within the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University.

Panels:
Surveillance: Caren Kaplan, Karin Bijsterveld
Performance: Daphne Brooks, Amelia Jones
Militancy: Nathalie Casemajor, Ultra-red (Dont Rhine & Robert Sember)
Humanity: Negar Mottahedeh, Anette Hoffman
Capitalism: Mark Curran, Sumanth Gopinath
Mediation: Natalie Bookchin, Georgina Born

Mark Curran will present on the research project, THE MARKET, which focuses on the functioning and condition of the global markets. Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, this was undertaken in collaboration with Helen Carey, Curator and Director of Firestation Artist’ Studios, the project was a central part of the visual art programme marking the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout. It was installed at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Belfast Exposed, Limerick City Gallery of Art, CCA Derry-Londonderry and most recently at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris (2014). A publication is planned for 2015.

Full list and overview of speakers available here. The event will be live streamed and then archived. Full details can be found at:
http://www.soundvisionaction.cc

Making History: MICHAEL SCHMIDT (1945-2014)

May 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

I don’t understand people and historians who view history as something finished, something past. For me, history only has a function when it is defined from the vantage point of the present so to speak, as an essential component of the present and the future.
(Michael Schmidt 2010)

Michael Schmidt (portrait by John Gossage)

Michael Schmidt (portrait by John Gossage)

Last Saturday, May 24th, in Berlin, the exceptional Michael Schmidt passed away. Too soon. Schmidt was one of the most important German-born, post-war artists. His projects, EIN-HEIT and Waffenruhe, both as books and installations, changed everything about how I thought about and indeed used photography.

Here are links to more extensive description and review of Schmidt’s work:
Gerry Badger
American Suburb X
And an eloquent obituary by Jörg Colberg.

PROGRESS REPORT

May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

It has been some time since the last post. This followed an intensive series of events around THE MARKET , most recently being a very successful installation at the Centre Culturel Irlandais. The public and media response in Paris, further underscored the profound interest in, and indeed a need to discuss, the subject matter of the project, a subject matter that continues to grip the world.

In addition, the time away from posting has provided a chance to reflect upon where the project finds itself. The intention is to now make a further research trip later in the summer to a site in Asia that has always been viewed as a pivotal location for the project. As elsewhere, this is dependent on securing access. To date, the process of negotiation has taken almost 2 years. However, a central conceptual framing has been both how access embodies a state of relation and condition of the functioning of the markets.

In anticipation of securing access, the plan is then is for a significant publication of the complete project to appear in 2015.

In the meantime, this blog/gathering place will continue to host posts in relation to THE MARKET. Enabling a means to reflect on the research process and indeed how the mechanism/momentum of financial capitalism continues to play itself out. Perhaps to completion.

Finally, as part of this post. Here is a short video of the first installation, which includes the audio of the algorithmic soundscape, The Normalisation of Deviance as installed at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin late last year.

 

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