Low Animal Spirits by Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane is an HFT algorithm driven by real time data, scripted as a live onscreen score and audio work with automated ‘readers’. Taking its cue from the oft-mentioned loss of the referent in both language and the economy, it is a live model of high frequency trading, dealing in words sourced from global news feeds for virtual ‘profit’, whilst speculating on their usage. The analysis produces new phenomena in the form of headlines generated with the help of Natural Language processing algorithms, tweeted @lowanimalspirit.
visualization that is projected is a glimpse
into the HFT algorithms buying and selling activity with volatility at the
centre of these concerns. It accesses
994 English Language global news feeds ‘live’ and acts upon the data as if it
were trading in the global market place, analysing words in terms of the
potential for a virtual ‘profit’ to be made.
You are watching what is about to trend, and likewise, the speculative
headline generator is trying hard to anticipate the next headline, based
on recent history, and incoming headlines, with the help of a Natural Language
The work address’ concerns relating to how algorithms curate big data, daily, and hence are reshaping knowledge production today. It takes these ideas to an intensified degree via a High Frequency Trading algorithm – applying high speed algorithmic methods to the global production of news, it’s distribution and reception - and raises further concerns relating to the production of new knowledge, as a result.
Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane Low Animal Spirits review by Lizzie Homersham. Art Monthly no 382. Dec-Jan 14-15. http://www.bannerrepeater.org/press
Art Project at East London Train Station Tweets Speculative Headlines to Affect Stock Market Algorithms. No, Really. by Phoebe Stubbs. http://www.artslant.com/lon/articles/show/40931
Low Animal Spirits, Banner Repeater, London. Review by Laura Davidson. http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/low-animal-spirits
@LowAnimalSpirit twitter bot - tweeting live speculative headlines
@LowAnimalSpirit twitter bot - tweeting live speculative headlines
Breaking News - Flash Crash by Ami Clarke - exhibited with Low Animal Spirits.
Low Animal Spirits - a phrase coined by the economist John Maynard Keynes during the Great Depression in 1929 and almost a hundred years later had cause to be cited again, by the governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King in 2012. Keynes spent many years studying probability theory in an attempt to predict future market behaviour and the Great Depression shook his confidence considerably unsettling all his investments, theoretical and otherwise, in ideas of a self-regulating and sustainable market. ‘Low animal spirits' - a mass downturn in confidence - showed a paradox, that locates a herd-like mentality, as well as unpredictability and uncertainty, at the core of international finance: a model of mass behavioural procedures. The complexities that arose of the lone individual acting spontaneously within a crowd, conceived through statistical analysis and probability theory, served to address complex conceptualisations of the individual within new formulations of the crowd. Since the phrase was first coined, the effects of probability theory have increased to an unprecedented scale, and the software/hardware, and infrastructural developments that facilitate these operations, plus political investment in de-regulation and a poorly legislated market place, have developed to the point at which human cognitive powers can no longer keep up. The arena in which these ideas arose is of a time where the very concept of free will came into being during the Enlightenment and as Katherine Hayles (1999) notes; an evolving subjectivity that emerged through market relations. Gambling and games of chance, with all the romantic heroism of the autonomous subject pitted against mathematical determinism, drove the quest for ever better odds, whilst the 18thC study of celestial mechanics developed complex new mathematical tools for deriving probable outcomes.
The work Low
Animal Spirits is a high frequency trading algo written by Richard Cochrane
(a former Vice President of Goldman Sachs) that ‘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 @LowAnimalSpirit twitterbot. The projected visualisation permitted a
glimpse into the HFT algorithms buying and selling activity with volatility at
the centre of these operations. The work
took its cue from the oft-mentioned loss of the referent in both language and
the economy, speculated about wildly, after the economic collapse of 2008/9 and
it seemed an apt moment to apply an extreme version of algorithmic operation in
the form of HFT to global news production.
The accompanying work Breaking News – Flash Crash focused on The
Associated Press twitter hack of 2013 that brought about a 1% drop in the
financial markets within a minute, and generated further investigation into
high-speed algorithmic procedures that seemingly conjoin language and the
economy. In a 2015 analysis of the
flash crash Tero Karppi and Kate Crawford draw attention to the Dataminr
software that mines Twitter’s ‘firehose’
and delivers what is deemed relevant into the hands of traders, and as this
software replaces human expertise there’s an implicit acknowledgement of the
centrality of social productions being enmeshed within the very fabric of
finance. The analysis further “underscores the connectedness of the
relation between systems of communication and monetary value – systems of humans
and algorithms, which are now tightly bound within ‘microrelational forces of
imitative encounters’ (Sampson 2012, 19)”. Drawing ‘thick
lines of connection that run between social media spaces, intermediate human
and algorithmic actors, and financial markets’ - algorithms, as Mercedes
Bunz notes, are “a social technology
massively transforming society, economics and the whole structural premise upon
which democracy itself is built”.
Liquidity Symposium - ICA 9th Dec 2015
Ami Clarke reading from her ongoing script: 'Error-Correction: an introduction to future diagrams' with 'Low Animal Spirits' - a live HFT algorithm trading in world news by Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane.
'Error-Correction: an introduction to future diagrams (take 7)’ is one in a series of experimental takes of an on-going enquiry into diagrams, that reference and include appropriated texts, contemporary commentary; news items, as well as anecdotal evidence, culminating in an interrelated convergence of many interwoven threads, whereby the voice, through language, is constituted “between someone else’s thoughts and the page’.
Take 7 focus’ on materiality, algorithms, and an evolving subjectivity, with a particular focus on Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Contemporary Visual Culture and the Acceleration of Identity Formation/Dissolution by Jonah Peretti – founder of Buzz-feed.
Liquidity Symposium organised by Andrew Conio with ICA in partnership with the University of Kent, School of Music and Fine Art.
recently at Wimbledon School of Art at Words of Art symposium
Press Release - Low Animal Spirits at Banner Repeater.
Opening night: 19th September 6.30-9pm.
Exhibition runs from 20th September – 14th December.Low Animal Spirits by Ami Clarke and Richard Cochrane is an algorithm driven by real time data, scripted as a live onscreen score and audio work with automated ‘readers’. Taking its cue from the oft-mentioned loss of the referent in both language and the economy, it is a live model of high frequency trading, dealing in words sourced from global news feeds for virtual ‘profit’, whilst speculating on their usage. The analysis produces new phenomena in the form of headlines generated with the help of Natural Language processing algorithms, tweeted @LowAnimalSpirit.
The theory of probability emerged from the gambling halls and insurance brokerages, astronomers and mathematicians of the Enlightenment period. The economist Keynes spent many years studying probability theory in an attempt to predict future market behavior and the Great Depression shook his confidence considerably. ‘Low animal spirits' - a mass downturn in confidence - showed 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. Advances in computing technologies, and investment in the cybernetic theories thereof, impacted on even the concept of democracy as a cybernetic feedback system, coupled with a renewed faith in the self-regulating efficiency of the market. Ideas of the mind functioning like an automaton emerged with the principal problem of addressing the mind and body as separate entities*, and as the machines sped up, they left the mind behind,* with a deficit of attention in an economy of self-performance. Key aspects of human activity are now intelligible only to machines, as both spectators and curators of big data, shaping what emerges into the public realm*.
Low Animal Spirits parses human activity sourced as news through “an electronic communications network executing trades at unheard of speeds, trading in decimalized increments that produce a level of complexity easier handled by computers*, in both transmission and reception. In the new ‘all-machine phase’, characterized by large numbers of sub-second ultra-fast events, existing behaviours accelerate ever faster as new regimes emerge*, compatible with the protocols of interfunctionality, as competing fragments of time*. As the structural play of value gets the upper hand, words exchange against each other, rather than against the real. The result of a process of technical modeling*; counters in a game of gambling.”
Kindly supported by The Elephant Trust and Arts Council England.
Ami Clarke is an artist and founder of Banner Repeater: a reading room with a public Archive of Artists Publishing, and project space; opening up an experimental space for others, with a shared focus in her practice on publishing, distribution, and dissemination. She has recently exhibited/curated works at David Roberts Arts Foundation, Camden Arts Centre and a solo exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. She lectures across the UK on post-digital art production.
Richard Cochrane is a writer, educator and musician, and a founder of the new Centre for Art and Mathematics at Central Saint Martins and director of Big Ideas Initiatives. In his previous career he wrote software for derivatives trading floors in the City, mostly as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs. He has performed at the Museum of London, the Bridewell Theatre, and is the author of several books on poetry, computer programming, music and history.
* Markov (amongst many others) - the limitations of the
human mouth in his probabilistic studies of poetry 1906. Traces of the mouth: Andrei Andreyevich Markov’s Mathematization of
Writing by David Link, 2006.
* Ted Striphas, author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control, and Art Beyond Spectatorship by Boris Groys.
* The Slient Revolution: How Digitalization Transforms Knowledge, Work, Journalism and Politics without making too much noise. By Mercedes Bunz P12/13 2014.
* In the Pull of Time by Ami Clarke was commissioned for ‘of a final account in formation’ by Scott Mason, MK gallery, Sept 2014. Texts by, V. Allen, Harry Burke, Ami Clarke, Chris Fite-Wassilak, John Hill, Elizabeth Holdsworth, Chris Kraus, Martí Manen, Rasmus Nilausen, Lisa Radon, Holly Stevenson. Published by renaro.
*Last paragraph - paraphrased excerpt from The Pull of Time –– the fully attributed text is on display at Banner Repeater: *The tax haven in the heart of Britain by Nicholas Shaxson. New Statesman. Published 24 February 2011. *Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time by Neil Johnson, Guannan Zhao, Eric Hunsader, Hong Qi, Nicholas Johnson, Jing Meng & Brian Tivnan Scientific Reports 3. *The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance (Semiotext(e) / In- tervention Series): On Poverty and Finance by Franco Bifo Birardi 2012. *Forget Foucault, Forget Baudrillard (Semiotext) Jean Baudrillard with Sylvere Lotringer.
test in blue
Low Animal Spirits has also been exhibited at End User, Hayward Gallery Nov 2014-Feb15,
and at Museo del Chopo in Mexico City April 26th-28th June with a selection from the Banner Repeater Archive of Artists' Publishing, and a work developed during a period of residency: the Death of Paper, by Isaac Olvera.