Mogens Jocobsen – 360

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Today I attended my first poetry lunch. It’s always beautiful to listen to a poet reading his/her own texts, and have the chance to ask them questions .
After the inspiring poetry brunch, I took a look around the place (Kunsthal Aarhus). I found Mogens Jacobsen’s 360 installation. He describes it here in this short interview:

Kunsthal Aarhus: Can you describe your work?

Mogens Jacobsen: S360 is an installation with a look like an old computer: IBM’s ”System 360” from the beginning of the 1960s. Today this machine seems like an archetypical retro sci-fi system. It’s huge with a lot of flashing lamps. From a time where technology exuded authority and belief in the future. I got interested in this computer’s aesthetics: A black frame with red, blue and yellow surfaces – an expression which sponged off art with its Mondrian-look. The form appeared as a materialized modernistic promise of an alluring technological future. But the texts on my machine are “distracting”. Not solely taken from the computer world, but with words which can be understood somewhere in the space between technology and politics. Through many years I’ve been interested in information system’s interfaces, and how they – both visually and linguistic – contain and communicate different point of views. And by breaking the technology’s form of communication I hope to throw some dirt into the machinery.

In my machine there is a software system running, which analyses two historical texts from two different political positions: Karl Marx’ Das Kapital and Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations from 1776. The machine writes a new text based on the two original texts. So the modernistic machine, the old system is trying to combine Marxism and liberalism. In the exhibition it’s up to the audience to decide which political standing point should be the most influential one. When a text piece is written by the machine, it is saved in a database and can afterwards be printed on a small piece of paper and be brought home. The text is finally analyzed for important words and a shorter version is posted on the installation’s twitter account @system365.

Kunsthal Aarhus: How does it relate to our Systemics series programme?

Mogens Jacobsen: Visually the piece is a paraphrase – maybe even a parody – based on a historical computer system from a time, where the cybernetic mind set spread out in various fields. In a time with a huge search for freedom, but also a time with an authoritative patriarchal society. And with the idea, that it was possible to decode underlying control systems. ”System360” became IBM’s big break through to the business world, and thereby automatically algorithmic logic made its entry in to the world of money. I see this machine as a symbol for a time with both control, pessimism of the future (e.g. The cold war) and a break with existing norms, hope for alternative futures.

Here is a graphic explanation of the system and a close up of some the lamps that have labels referring to economic/political/sociological issues (I pushed all the buttons and played with all the switches of course! 😀 )

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