Martin Howse (UK) Test Execution Host

Installation for rocks, custom Turing machine travelling head and rails, cyanotype and water pumping station, custom Python software, desktop; 2016 – ongoing

Test Execution Host (T.E.H.) explores the way in which geological materials are embedded in the history and functioning of technology and the way in which they are subjected to environmental change, linking computation to processes of natural material formation, transformation and decay.

T.E.H. references the life and work of computing pioneer Alan Turing. The work takes the form of a primitive, leaky computing machine, a Turing Machine (TM) which writes, computes and reads ones and zeroes on a physical tape composed of rocks and samples from local mining regions, local earth, alongside obsolete computing parts.

The Turing Machine, a conceptual conceit in the first instance, is rendered physical. It consists of a kind of playback head, which writes ones or zeroes to an endless tape across which the head can move back and forth. The Turing Machine reads data from the tape and changes state according to both data and instruction, in the process storing further data, writing to the tape. This is the essence of computation.

In order to write a one to the rock tape pre-mixed cyanotype fluid (ammonium iron (III) citrate and potassium ferricyanide - when exposed to daylight this liquid will darken to a deep blue) is dripped out, and, in order to write a zero, water is pumped from the adjacent nozzle.

Information is read back from the tape by the moving TM reader head, which registers relative amounts of light and dark. As the head moves, the Turing program or software is executed poorly due to the raw materials involved. The operation of the machine is fluid, sketchy and bound to the material constraints of light and liquid.

This cyanotype photographic process, introduced in the 19th century and used to make blueprints from technical diagrams, involves cyanide, a compound which is used in the industrial extraction of gold from low grade mineral ores. Alan Turing committed suicide through the ingestion of cyanide.

Prototype developed with Peter Flemming and supported by OBORO/Goethe Institute.

Martin Howse (UK)

Martin Howse is occupied with an investigation of the links between the Earth (geophysical phenomena), software and the human psyche (psychogeophysics) through the construction of experimental situations (performance, laboratories, walks, and workshops), material art works and texts.

From 1998 to 2005 Howse was director of ap, a software performance group working with electronic waste, pioneering an early approach to digital glitch. From 2007 to 2009 he hosted a regular workshop, micro-residency and salon series in Berlin. Howse has worked and collaborated on acclaimed projects and practices such as The Crystal World, Psychogeophysics, Earthboot, Sketches towards an Earth Computer and Dissolutions. For the last ten years he has initiated numerous open-laboratory style projects and performed, published, lectured and exhibited worldwide. He is equally the creator of the skin-driven audio divination noise module, The Dark Interpreter, and the ERD modular synthesizer series.