ami clarke

Ami Clarke artist website

Low Animal Spirits by Ami Clarke.




Low Animal Spirits

John Maynard Keynes’s phrase Low Animal Spirits describes 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. Low Animal Spirits was a work made in collaboration with Richard Cochrane that took its cue from the oft-mentioned loss of the referent in both language and the economy that was speculated about wildly after the economic collapse of 2007/08. It employs a high-frequency trading (HFT) algorithm written by Cochrane (a former Vice President of Goldman Sachs), and ‘deals’ in words sourced from global news feeds for virtual ‘profit’, whilst speculating on their usage. The analysis produces new phenomena in the form of speculative headlines tweeted from the twitterbot @LowAnimalSpirit. As various social productions, including news, are increasingly enmeshed within algorithmic procedures, through their production, distribution and reception, it seemed an apt moment to apply an extreme version of algorithmic operation in the form of HFT to global news production. The Associated Press twitter hack of 2013 that brought about a 1% drop in the financial market in 1 minute was displayed during the exhibition as a polished metal graphic: Breaking News – Flash Crash, and generated further investigation into high-speed algorithmic procedures that seemingly conjoin language and the economy. The work developed through procedural experimentation and the following writing traces some of the ideas that came before, after and through the work, often in conversation with others. It is best thought of in terms of a report: a taking stock.


Article: Low animal spirits

Publication: Journal of Visual Art Practice

Special issue: Headstone to Hard Drive

Editor: Martin Westwood
Pages: 145-160
Published online: 26 Jan 2017

Format: Paperback and online journal

ISBN: Print ISSN: 1470-2029 Online ISSN: 1758-9185

Publication: September 11, 2017



The Journal of Visual Art Practice (JVAP) is a forum of debate and inquiry for research in art. JVAP is concerned with visual art practice including the social, economic, political and cultural frames within which the formal concerns of art and visual art practice are located. The journal is concerned with research engaged in these disciplines, and with the contested ideas of knowledge formed through that research.