Month: April 2011

A brief moment inside the mind of Mike Culliney , care of #egfdell expendables

                                         A Learning Curve

                                                  Presented by ; Mike Culliney

What is a learning curve? According to Wikipedia, a learning curve is a graphical representation of the changing rate of learning (in the average person) for a given activity or tool. For most of us we associate a learning curve with formal education or training. I want to put forward the idea that we experience learning curves on a daily basis to a greater or lesser extent. I want to discuss my own periods of learning curves within the formal education system, within a work related situation and within personal day to day experiences.

I totally agree with the idea that it is possible for something to be easy to learn but difficult to master. A prime example of this for me would have to be the many years that I spent studying Fine Art Printmaking at the Limerick School Of Art And Design. I spent year one studying and learning the various techniques within the Fine Art Printmaking process. I then spent four more years fine tuning these techniques to the point where the technique became automatic and secondary to the idea or language being expressed within the print. When the technique becomes second nature and a tool or means for carrying ones ideas to perfection then it can be said that you have mastered the technique.

While the initial first year of activity during this period would have to comply with the concept of a steep learning curve the following four years also comply to this concept. To the outside viewer it would seem that you or I were just repeating the same process over and over, but on closer inspection it becomes clear that the perpetrator is in fact modifying and refining the process to become their own. So in terms of my formal art education the learning curve was initially steep and then constant but progressive.

Compared to this situation I experienced a completely different learning curve while working within the manufacturing industry. This curve would have to fall within the perimeters of the idea that a subject is hard to learn but with little beyond this. Having had very little contact or experience operating a computer before entering the industry the first three months of this steep learning curve proved quiet difficult for me. After this initial period of frenzied learning the remainder of my eight and a half year learning curve at times moved into the stagnant regressive category. In this situation after the initial information download was complete one was in fact repeating the process over and over again without gaining any further benefit from the process.

In the previous chapters I have discussed two very different learning curves within the formal education – training situation. What I haven’t mentioned is the personal or social learning curve which existed strongly within the two situations. This constant, steep and very progressive learning curve happens to all of us on a daily basis. The human race tends in the majority to be a social race. We need to interact with other human beings. This interaction involves the transfer of information. Information that initially was consumed then refined with personal experience and passed on with knowledge. Then consider what you learn about a person, a place, an idea ect., all within a few seconds several times a day every-day. Now that has to be a learning curve.

From birth to grave we are all on a steep learning curve. For some this curve is positive – progressive and for others it is stagnant – regressive. I am now off to a friend’s house to learn how to lay bricks and mix mortar. I am wondering is this going to be a progressive or regressive learning curve. Most people would say that I am about to embark on a ‘ being used ‘ learning curve.


A review of How Capital Moves by Mike Culliney. #egfdell take a look at an art installation by Kennedy Brown in conjunction with Limerick City Gallery Of Art

                               An exhibition review presented by Mike Culliney

                                     How Capital Moves by Kennedy Brown

Curated by Annette Maloney at Limerick City Gallery Of Art (off site), Istabraq Hall, Merchants Quay, Limerick City, Ireland. Exhibition runs from 25th March to the 6th of May 2011.

Kennedy Brown is a collaborative partnership between Gareth Kennedy and Sarah Brown which began in 2005. They seek to open and actively involve themselves in the debate that multinational capitalist companies and their effects on individual lives reads like a science fiction novel but in fact it is all too real.

For this chapter in the on-going debate Kennedy Brown have created an installation piece which was originally commissioned for the Lodz Biennale in Poland, 2010. They are commenting on a computer factories decision to relocate their manufacturing facility to Lodz from Limerick in Ireland. For very real reasons the artists have chosen to replace the name of this particular multinational company with the pseudonym ` The Company ‘.

In How Capital Moves, Kennedy Brown have carefully crafted a statement on how redundancy, the scourge of the modern working person’s life, has become the norm within the insecure nature of employment at the beginning of the 21st century. They comment on how individuals are disposable in the hunger to keep production costs down and profits to a maximum.

On entering the exhibition at Istabraq Hall the first thing that struck me was the long walk from the main entrance of the exhibition area to the actual installation piece. This actually rings through with most manufacturing facilities in that on entering the facility you pass through the main door and you have a walking distance to reach the area of production. This walk could include passing through security, ` Company’ approved advertisements and employee merits or awards. Eventually one arrives at the heart of the facility where one is greeted with a wide open space full of activity.

Moving clockwise around the exhibition space the viewer is greeted firstly by two boarding passes on A4 paper and two billboard prints of the last flight from Shannon Airport to Lodz Airport, March 25th 2010. These images are loaded with narrative. The finality of ` The Company’s ‘ pull-out from Ireland and with that pull-out also the stripping of employees source of income, future and personal standing. The future is packed up in that plane and someone, somewhere else is going to receive the benefits of ` The Companies ‘ relocation.

Next on our journey through the installation piece we are greeted by two mugs encased within a glass cage mounted on aero-board plinth. The immediate impact of this piece would have to be an emotion of sympathy with the employees and their situation depicted on the mugs. On closer inspection the question has to be asked, who is the actual mug in the situation? The employees trapped within their glass cage perched on an internet blue base or the viewer looking passively on as these events unfold before their eyes.

We are greeted next on our journey by a box like structure bearing a disclaimer sign which contains white text on an internet blue background. The immediate effect of the disclaimer is that ` The Company ‘ is still out there watching upon the mugs. This increases our curiosity as to what is contained within the box. What a surprise and what an impact the two channel HD video has in-store for the viewer.

Having gone through and survived the effects of ` The Company’s’ pull-out, for me the video installation has the most potent impact. I can see first-hand how the pull-out has affected individuals and their lives. Limerick City and its surroundings went into a brief sense of mourning followed by a brief moment of disbelief followed by a long period of anger and resentment. This questioning exhibition by Kennedy Brown hits close to many hearts in Ireland, myself included, and documents that there is no way to make forced redundancy clean and unemotional. It is and will always be WRONG.