Note G

Barbara Bloom, Stephanie Hier, and Greg Ito

06.24—08.10, 2018

Curated by Stephanie Cristello and Nathaniel Hitchcock

Opening Reception: Sunday, June 24, 4–7pm

Diagram_for_the_computation_of_Bernoulli_numbers.jpg

 

Between 1842 and 1843, English mathematician Ada Lovelace hand wrote what many consider to be the first algorithmic computer program: Note G.[1] Entitled after the final in a series of these computational Notes—a term which can be interpreted as both a scientific and musical notation—this exhibition includes works by artists within the context of technology, as well as in relation to both lyricism and the handmade gesture. As the only legitimate child of British poet Lord Byron, it serves to note that Lovelace described her approach to mathematics as ‘poetical science.’ Just as the word ‘scripting’ in the language of computer science is borrowed from that of a screenplay—a series of instructions read and executed in the exact order it is written—poetry can be said to belong to the foundations of this first invented piece of software. The perception of the screen as a stage, or vice versa, positions the gallery space as a theater set, a window display, or a video game where a controlled code, or program, may be played out—one that is navigated by the viewer, not built by them. 

The exhibition Note G is an experiment in the implementation of a poetic interface amongst objects. Unfolding as a singular installation, rather than a curated exhibition, the premise considers the slippage and reification that emerges when objects are aligned for the purpose of being networked. By tracing the histories which begin with the work of Ada Lovelace, and are continued throughout the twentieth century—such as Norbert Wiener’s foundational work on cybernetics, the Church-Turing Thesis, and Alan Kay’s invention of the Graphic User Interface, as well as the Xerox Parc team’s formulation of the first painting simulation software—Note G features the poetic impact of the computer across mediums and conceptual approaches. 

The Romanticism implicit in Lovelace’s notations finds its footing in the present by way of immersion. In this sense, each of the selected works contend with the ideological implications of contemporary computing in their own right, coalescing as a mise-en-scène where narratives of language, source, and immersion become present. 

 


[1] Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 1815–1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognize that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.