PROTOTYPES, Dennis McNulty’s first solo exhibition at a public institution in Ireland, curated by Mary Conlon, at Limerick City Gallery of Art. Housed in the Carnegie Building, the gallery is composed of a series of relatively recent extensions arranged around a century-old central core, former site of the Free Library and Museum. The starting point for the exhibition is the building itself as found object. McNulty inserts new and existing works into the historical and spatial narratives of the building, material and immaterial interventions which hint at structural instabilities in the relationships between language, space and technology.
In the recent extensions to the building – or at their thresholds, McNulty creates gateways or portals, resulting in a series of interstitial spaces which play host to a body of work assembled from technological artefacts, construction materials, abject electronics, song lyrics and algorithms. Potential settings or scenarios are proposed: a future archivist recalls her encounters with telepathic operating systems and memory compositing software; primitive machines grapple with language, their lopsided Turing Tests hinting at sentience; and dark folded objects envelop missing books on the digital technologies that first caused them to dematerialise and may now render them obsolete.
In the original extension to the Free Library and Museum, built as a municipal gallery to exhibit the city’s Permanent Collection, a selection from the collection is made through the application of a simple linguistic rule. The method echoes the predictions of Italian writer, Italo Calvino, in his seminal lecture Cybernetics and Ghosts (November 1967), on the future automation of image and text: “the machine used in these experiments is an instrument of chance, of the destructuralization of form, of protest against every habitual logical connection.” The resulting selection of over one hundred works, Untitled or with no title, hangs in the space like the outcome of a search query.