Aesthetic Logic

Friday 5 December 2014 - Thursday 5 November
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Aesthetic Logic



George Boole was born in Lincoln, England November 1815 and died in Cork, Ireland December 1864.

“Boole’s system of logic is but one of many proofs of genius and patience combined. … That the symbolic processes of algebra, invented as tools of numerical calculation, should be competent to express every act of thought, and to furnish the grammar and dictionary of an all-containing system of logic, would not have been believed until it was proved.” – De Morgan, a contemporary of Boole. Today, Boolean logic is a central element of computer programming.

Aesthetic Logic is an exhibition by visual artist Marie Foley and curator Jobst Graeve responding to the scientific contributions of George Boole. The project unifies the two anniversaries: his birth 200 years ago in England and his death in Cork 150 years ago during his tenure as the first professor of Mathematics at Queens College, Cork (today UCC)*. The timeline will be marked by two fixed assemblages one for each anniversary, the installations will evolve over the course of the yearlong exhibition. There will be periods of rapid change and periods of slow or no change.

The project will have two physical locations. Here at Triskel Arts Centre, the work begins on the anniversary of his death in December 2014 and will continuously change to finish with the anniversary of his birth November 2015. This could be defined as reverse time. Simultaneously, in the private sphere of Marie Foley’s studio the initial installation responds to Boole’s birth and finishes with work about his death.

Marie Foley creates physical elements or uses found ones. In her studio she has drawer upon drawer of carefully ordered elements. These are not just physical elements but are simultaneously and more importantly abstract symbols. They are combined in complex structures using a visual and poetic logic. It is a long process of manipulating innumerable potential combinations. Marie has created and will create works which are directly inspired by George Boole. Her work will be housed in two identical antique museum cabinets which originally housed part of the Egyptian Collection of the National Museum.

Alongside the two cabinets Jobst Graeve will curate an installation of computer code by various programmers which demonstrate an aesthetic flow of logic independent of any function. There can be a narrative of logic that can be perfect and pure but is invisible to the user. The concept of an aesthetic computer codes emerged about ten years ago during the development of a software called Squideo*.

The anniversary of George Boole’s birth will be commemorated in form of Brian Kernighan’s most famous, minimal program which prints out the text “hello, world” onto a computer screen. It was first published in his seminal book “A Tutorial Introduction to the Language B” published in 1972. It has since become a vital part in the learning and testing of personal computer programming.

The anniversary of his death will be commemorated with an alpha beta tree pruning algorithm* which is used in computer chess and in many computer games. At the time of Kasparov and the Deep Blue public reception was that computer chess code could be used to measure artificial intelligence with human intelligence. Deep Blue contained within its code an alpha beta pruning algorithm.

It is hoped this project will become an exploration of what aesthetic logic might be and how it may manifest itself. This exhibition is an opportunity to explore the work of the visual artist and programmers in their search for Aesthetic Logic.
Squideo was developed by John Gerrard, Jobst Graeve and Stephen O’ Reilly- see