We are opening the first exhibition from the series Re-Making/Re-Mixing History titled Alan Turing – Electronic Alchemist with opening set on Friday, 8 July at 8:30pm at the Gallery Miroslav Kraljević (G-MK) in Zagreb. The exhibition is on view from 9 to 24 July.
Machines take me by surprise with great frequency.
Re-Making / Re-Mixing History project deals with innovators and scholars from Galileo to Alan Turing, observing them through hybrid art and hacker/maker culture, and consists of a series of separate exhibitions with the following themes: mechatronics, kinetics, robotics, device_art, interaction design, BIOart.
Re-Making / Re-Mixing History deals with scientists renown as pioneers of their fields, but which due to the spirit of times in which they lived were persecuted, obstructed in their work, imprisoned, forced to emigrate or even deprived of life. Artist and philosophers throughout history were often viewed as heretics and opponents of the system in which they lived, but they did not stay alone in the fight for progressive ideas. Scientists and innovators also contributed by defending their inventions, claims or beliefs. On countless occasions all professions mentioned were embodied in one person, so a blend of art, culture and science is no stranger to the history of civilization. These forms of creativity constantly permeate throughout the history, thus giving the cultural history of science and art history the equal importance.
Those scientists, often innovators, who went ahead of social circumstances by sacrificing many aspects of their lives for greater good, inspired Radiona’s interdisciplinary collective. This is by no means a series of exhibitions about „martyrs“, as it is not a documentary exposition of work of particular scientists, but a series which will present different aspects of work and life of people which marked the development of civilization through intermedia works in the field of innovative and contemporary practice.
Alan Turing – “electronic alchemist”
Alan Turing is an unavoidable name in computer science, mathematics, logic, theoretical biology and cryptography, but he was also a member of the community of hackers and makers at a time when these concepts were not yet present on the horizon of everyday social context. Turing was not just a theorist. His work desk was one of a practitioner – piles of wires, breadboard, soldering irons… Fingers scorched by the hot soldering iron, he was what nowadays we call a hands-on person. Although he was convinced that algorithmic formulas and calculations should be implemented in practise, in many cases he ended up disappointed, since companies that led projects on which he worked did not permit this.
Turing wanted to bring theoretical and speculative imaginarium of mathematics and logic to a final goal in the practice, like an alchemist, as he was attributed from primary school to the end of life. Only such a lucid mind could play a key role in decoding the Enigma and contribute to the faster end of the Second World War, but the enigma of his own life never existed – open and honest in his naivety he did not hide anything. Ready to make concessions when working with others, he could never agree to compromise with himself. Today we are left with a strange impression of a man who broke codes in the spying system of his time, but in the end he himself was spied on and rejected by the same system he served. This talented long distance runner, due to adverse social conditions which condemned his homosexuality, had to end the run of his life too soon.
Turing did not attract the Radiona lab just as the “father of the computer”, by his hypothetical machine or by a probability that he would in present times be a member of some community like hackerspace or makerspace, but also by his serious contribution to biology, namely the field of morphogenesis – the way in which phenomena obtain or change shape. Fascinated from early childhood by Fibonacci numbers which are reflected in the structure of leaves or colour patterns in animals, he developed mathematical models of forming of biological shapes. His studies in this field are considered to be a pioneering work of analyzing the algorithmic code of nature, where the distribution of chemical signal of this code is predicted with great precision, as is the way in which they determine the patterns of development of natural shapes. It is in the roots of this interdisciplinarity of his brilliant mind, which is not just mathematically abstract nor solely determined by the practice, where we see a reflection of today’s phenomena of biohacking, citizen science, DIY practices or civic participation culture.
Turing machine, conceived in 1930s, is a theoretical device which can execute any computing algorithm. The storage media is an infinite memory tape divided into cells, with the head which is used to read and write the content (a symbol) of a cell. An algorithm which the machine runs is defined as a sequence of instructions – depending on a current state and a symbol on the tape, an instruction says which symbol is to be written to the tape, to which state should machine make transition and which way should the head move. The machine executes instructions one by one until it terminates. The result is the final output. Turing machine is an abstract forerunner of contemporary computers.
The Entscheidungsproblem (the “decision problem”) formulated in 1928 by German mathematician David Hilbert, Turing reformulated in 1931 using previous results of logician and mathematician Kurt Gödel on limitations of proof calculus, by developing a formal language based on the arithmetic and a simple hypothetical machine, later named the Turing machine. He proved that there is no solution to the decision problem, primarily by showing that it is not possible to algorithmically decide whether a Turing machine will eventually terminate.
Next to the contribution of mathematician John von Neumann, Turing’s ideas which resulted in a hypothetical machine are an indispensable part of mathematical logic which lies in the foundation of the way in which today’s computers work.
working hours: Monday – Saturday: 16 – 20, Sunday: 10-13
concept. text: Deborah Hustić
machine: Igor Brkić
design: Damir Prizmić
editing: Vesna Zednik
translation: Tin Perkov
technics: Matija Kralj
Support: Ministry of Culture of Republic Croatia / City of Zagreb
Media support: Kulturpunkt