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Basis voor Actuele Kunst - BAK

Public Institution
Hosted by BAK–Artist’s talk by Michael Stevenson
  Hosted by BAK-Artist's talk by Michael Stevenson
Part of the project Master Humphrey's Clock, organized by the participants of de Appel's Curatorial Programme 2007/2008.


During an intensive research period at BAK in preparation for major upcoming projects-part of which evolve through a series of public lectures and discussion groups with Utrecht University-BAK's exhibition premises are temporarily made available for hosting a selection of short-term presentations developed by contemporary art and culture institutions in Utrecht and the Netherlands.

On Sunday 18 May 2008 at 16.00 hrs BAK, basis voor actuele kunst hosts an artist's talk by Michael Stevenson as part of the project Master Humphrey's Clock, organized by the participants of the Curatorial Programme 2007/2008, de Appel, Amsterdam.

The Search for the Fountain of Prosperity

Since 2002, artist Michael Stevenson has been researching a machine that was first developed at the London School of Economics in 1949 and was meant to function as an interactive, animated visualization of monetary flow in a national economy. Originally named after its inventor, New Zealand economist Bill Phillips, the Phillips machine is a hydraulic computer that, as Stevenson explains, "gives the national economy-that omnipotent yet invisible being-a physical body. In contrast to electronic computers of the day it is extremely visual: a fixed volume of water-dyed red to represent money-is pumped like blood through a circulatory system of transparent pipes and slices. The fluid accumulation in the various holding tanks becomes the measure for the economic data."

For Stevenson the machine is not only interesting for what it represents through its form, but also for the stories that surround its implementation as a pedagogical tool in various institutions worldwide. One story in particular-that of a machine purchased by the Central Bank of Guatemala in 1953-became the focus of his project. His unfulfilled search for the machine led him to construct a facsimile of it in a barely functioning state of ruin.

Upon invitation from the participants of this year's de Appel Curatorial Programme, Stevenson produced a presentation of his research that is now on display in Master Humphrey's Clock, an exhibition in the newly designed satellite city of Utrecht called Leidsche Rijn.

The artist and the de Appel Curatorial Programme would like to thank the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at the VU University, Amsterdam for the loan of a replica of the Phillips machine built in 1953.

Location: BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Lange Nieuwstraat 4, Utrecht
Language: English
Admission: free
Reservations are recommended, t: +31 (0)30 2316125, e:

Master Humphrey's Clock examines the intersections between storytelling and circulation through a series of art exhibitions, publications, and events. The first of two publications produced as part of Master Humphrey's Clock, F.R. David - The Book of Intentions, is available at the talk.

On the same day a guided tour with the curators of Master Humphrey's Clock commences at 13.00 hrs at Het Gebouw by Stanley Brouwn and Bertus Mulder: Hogeweide 3B, Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht.

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