Future Academies: Difference Engine

RHA Talk

Free | Friends Room
On 28 Feb, 2024

The RHA is the longest-running artist collective on the island of Ireland, and this series of talks intends to reference some of the initial values of the academy forming, such as community, collectivity and belonging to a group, in looking at new models of artist collectives or communities of interest.

Difference Engine is both an evolving exhibition and a model of artist-led curation founded by Wendy Judge, Gillian Lawler, Mark Cullen and Jessica Foley. We have been working and touring together throughout Ireland and abroad since 2009. Jessica, who has had an active involvement since 2009, has stepped away due to other work commitments but will always be a fond correspondent and remote collaborator with the group.

Our collective name is lifted from the 19th century work of Charles Babbage, the world’s first mechanical computational machine:The Difference Engine. Babbage was a cantankerous English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, mechanical engineer and notorious collaborator with the world’s first computer programmer, Lady Ada Lovelace.

We have adopted the name Difference Engine as a kind of poetic motto for working together creatively, pragmatically and critically. We particularly enjoy Babbage’s aphorism that “Jamming is a form of Error Detection,” and take this as something of a slogan for our collective experimentation and collaboration.

As Difference Engine we play with the idea of ‘jamming’ as both a way of making art and a way of life. In one sense ‘jamming’ signifies stasis, shock, or rupture, but in another sense it signifies change, growth, improvisation and invigoration between players. We understand this ambiguity as reflective of the capacity we share for generating creative politics from where and when we live.

Difference Engine exhibitions are devised over months and years. Our works change and morph through conversation with each other and some works disappear and reappear from one show to the next. We often combine painting, video, sculpture, objects and props, as well as words, sounds and language. We summon each other and our audiences to generate relations, associations and stories from the pieces composed within the space and place of exhibition. For us, Difference Engine operates as a metaphor and model of radical politics and aesthetic experiment that allows us to generate critical counterpoints between personal and artistic concerns and broader social, political and environmental matters of living and dying on this earth, now.

Image credit: Jamming is a form of error detection, Difference Engine, from Altern_ator catalogue, HDLU, Zagreb, 2018.

  • Date:

    28 Feb, 2024
  • Time:

    17:30 - 18:30
  • Price:

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