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Old Media at the Arnolfini

  • Date: 28 September 2010
  • Area: South West
David Link with his Love Letter Generator

David Link with his Love Letter Generator. Credit: Clint Randall

Arnolfini's Old Media is a season of exhibitions, film, music and performance in which artists revisit redundant technologies.

Fun with Software looks at the history of computer software, and its relation to humour and fun. Making and using software can be experimental, humorous, and eventful. Alongside today's rather dull use of forms, databases, schedules and processors, an element of fun has informed and guided the development of software from its beginnings.
A good example of this is Love Letter Generator. David Link has reconstructed a Love Letter Generator using an old computer programme from the 1950s- one of the first computer programmes created. He has used an old computer - a Ferranti Mark 1, the first commercially available general purpose computer (which was made in Manchester).

Visitors to the exhibition can operate the computer to randomly generate love letters which are projected outside the exhibition on the foyer of the building. Love letters can also be printed onto a teleprinter, a restored 1930s machine from Bletchley Park. 
The Coal Fired Computer responds to the displacement of coal production to emerging economic superpowers like India and China after the UK miners' strike in the 80s. Coal Fired Computer also reflects on the complexities of our global fossil fuel reliance as well as the histories of labour and industrialisation. 

Tantalum Memorial is a telephony-based memorial to the people who have died as a result of the coltan wars in the Congo. The installation is constructed out of electromagnetic Strowger switches, the kind used in the first automatic telephone exchange invented in 1888. The title of the work refers to the metal tantalum, an essential component of mobile phones. The movements and sounds of the switches are triggered by the phone calls of London's Congolese community.

Open Circuit is a sound installation created with a labyrinth of copper lines carrying electrical signals. By putting wireless speakers on them, the carried sound can become audible. The sounds produced are influenced by the visitors to the exhibition.

Seeta Patel is one of five associate artists based at venues in Bristol. Each dance professional is based at a different venue and will create a programme with their host venue, including performance, workshops and research. Arnolfini is working with Seeta Patel, a dancer and choreographer who works with both classical and contemporary Bharata Natyam. Seeta is currently rehearsing her new full-length dance work inspired by the three central characters from the Indian epic The Ramayana.