For the Final Symposium of the MA, I had some technical difficulties in the export that meant I couldn’t attend in person. Consequently, the discussion of my work was upsettingly limited in the 5 minutes after the video.
I’d like to give some insight into the questions asked, and if anybody is further interested to discuss, please do get in touch!
Overwhelmingly there was the simple question of “Why Religion?” and “How does it link to your practice.”
The research i’ve undergone has looked into the prospects of the internet as a 3 dimensional environment. Compared to the physical world, we can manipulate and altar the physics and constructs of this man-made space. Religion has been a significant building block for social structure and control for centuries. The internet as we know it, is a global network only 30 years into its popular history. The ability for an individual to openly engage with daily free-flow information about the world around them lessens the effect of the everyday ‘Unknown’. This is an aspect I believe is a core reason for theistic belief. Fear of the ‘Unknown’.
In the UK, it is now the minority of individuals who would identify themselves as Christians. Within the space of one monarchy, British society has gone from a religious, Christian nation to a multi-cultural, pluralist, secular nation with a foundation of Christian values. The single most influential and evolutionary creation of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, has been the internet. (Subject to argument of course).
When talking about ‘the Internet’, its size and scope detracts from the discussions. ‘The Internet’ has become a blurry definition of what was originally a computer network. Technically, yes, it is still a computer network, though no one can doubt its rapid evolution to something unimaginable. (Its worth mentioning at this point that the telephone was invented in the 1890s…) The culture and philosophy surrounding this computer network is still defining itself, and will continue to do so as long as it finds new ways to be a disruptive and progressive force.
Internet culture – another blurry term that is as un-descriptive as saying “religious culture.” Religion , at least to me, is a structure (or a network) of protocols. Each different religion, whether theistic or non-theistic has its own concepts, normalities and expectations etc. The theistic Abrahamic religions show many similarities in these areas, and others such Buddhism or Hinduism do not! Coming from a non-religious person, it would seem to me that its attraction is community and a way to approach The ‘Unkown.’ Just as internet culture varies itself and develops niche communities interested in something similar, so too does religion.
Whats the Unkown? To me this is the feeling of hope, worry, expectation, dread. Essentially its the emotional response to the future. In a time where there is little information about the world outside your community, religion gives a sense of understanding and fulfilment, and most importantly a sense of protection. This future-gazing becomes less fearful when there is an almighty power watching over. The submissive values the worshipper has been taught in the community ensures that he/she believes that the almighty God’s actions are the best possible outcome, no matter the consequence. Perhaps this is best seen in fundamentalists actions rather than the average religious worshipper. I appreciate that many religious people don’t necessarily believe in everything within their religion, but instead find value, identity and community in its structure.
When I say that the Internet is comparable to Religion, I’m not trying to come across as some nugget with a grandiose philosophical theory. I simply mean that there’s a clear correlation with increasing global transparency, communication and information and the decline of religious worship. Alongside this, the way that we as the users interact with this network is comparable to the addictive and spiritual routine of some religions. How often do you read the news or check your social media on a daily basis? It’s not praying but its a vital part of understanding the community around you.
The idea of the ‘self’ is still a relatively young concept. The internet endorses originality and self-interest. Social Media is the most obvious offender in this area. As McLuhan argues, man will reflect himself in any technology that is created. Perhaps in the next century, historians and theorists will look at the way millennials used the internet as selfish and primitive, with no sense of global community. Its incredible to think that something like The Ice Bucket Challenge managed to raise close to a quarter of a billion dollars for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It was such a simple concept and it made a huge difference, whilst being a lot of fun. It bought a global social media community together, and since then there have been a number of trends that have done the same. One of the most interesting and questionable of these examples was the ability to change your profile photo to a French flag after the Bataclan attacks last year. Whilst being an overwhelming and uplifting show of support to those killed in the attacks, the weeks and months after such a show of solidarity from the world, gave a glimpse on the difference in interest. The Western world dominate the Internet in this sense. Which unfortunately means that there is an imbalanced representation for others, which can feed a negative outlook. Turkey has experienced significant attacks in recent months, yet there is a clear difference in online response which can only harm the bonds between these communities.
Anyway, I’m dragging on. I’ve looked at religion for these reasons as well as the effect religious art had on its viewers throughout history. I’m particularly inspired by the early and high Renaissance. The romantic storytelling and dramatic idealism of stained glass windows, cathedral reliefs and paintings continue to be a strong source of inspiration.
Another question that was asked – “What do you mean by the imbalance between the physical and digital?”
This is different for everyone. Perhaps I’m alone in thinking that I’m increasingly reliant on the internet and its services for more and more daily tasks. As more objects and services are linked to the internet, more of our control is given to our devices. A great example would be Hive, letting you control your heating from your phone. Or iZettle, a card machine for small businesses that links to your smartphone or tablet and works with Paypal. Or the Fitbit, that lets you calculate the precise number of steps you take each day as well as keeping a daily log of your heart activity. There are so many examples. Perhaps the imbalance I talk about is just the emergence of the internet of things.
I believe there’s a significant imbalance in friendships online and offline. There are many people who I’d love to see more regularly however have only had recent contact through social media. Many of these people live locally, yet the interaction is digital.
I’m not sure how best to describe this as an imbalance as it’s different for each person. Many people who don’t use internet services on a regular basis may not see this as an issue. However, watching television is a great example. There is an addictive quality.
I’ve continued transferring ‘Signals’ to canvas. Its helping me understand how I’d transfer digitally-made compositions to physical works. Though the design itself is completely spontaneous, the way in which I place the structures has transformed through the digital manipulation of original drawings. The tangibility of a digital process allows for this manipulation and reflects a lot of what we discussed in the seminar yesterday.
This idea can be related back to the way we use personal devices and internet services. Based on your inputs, we can work out a vast array of possibilities to move forward with any given inquiry. An incredibly simple example would be if I were to open a map app and work out how to get from my home to Camberwell, I will be presented with a number of options including walking, driving, cycling and any means of public transport based on live data. My next step will then be to pick one and run the course based on what the app provides. This is a physical issue, with a digital inquiry feeding all the possibilities for a physical output, i.e. me getting to Camberwell. Just like a calculator, and really any computer process. This is a very simple example but when applied to a more complex issue such as the impact of weather systems, or the potential impact of a demolition, these simulations can be life-changing. Software is made to act out these sorts of scenarios and give the user each of the possible outcomes during potential disasters. Simulation softwares have been used in architecture and military design for some time but can simulation be taken a step further? Online advertising nudges us towards products or services we may want based on search engine and social media entries. Using predictive software we could create simulations that act out whether two people will get along…. or whether someone would work well in a particular job… This isn’t that farfetched and is probably well on its way but is it ethical?
Bringing it back down to the everyday… digital processes have allowed us to solve complex problems individually, without moving. Whether this is good or bad isn’t the point, its the fact that its possible. I’ve found that digital process has aided me in finding the drawing style I’ve hoped for, and I’ll never know whether I would have found it if I didn’t use a computer, or how long it would have taken to secure it. (Not that its in any way secure). In essence, I’ve created simulations of physical paintings in the same way I used to use a sketchbook.
Below are the two current working examples of my movement to physical outputs.
The smaller piece has had a very thick layer of varnish over it, which gives it a little more depth and gloss. I wish it could be deeper, perhaps layering it with an inch of clear or frosted resin. I’ve also heard that certain permanent markers can go purple, and eventually disappear over time, so hopefully varnish or resin will preserve the pen a little more.
I felt this print went well. Thought I’d share.
Just to be clear, none of these works are part of my final piece, they’re working towards it. I hope to produce detailed blueprints of my piece by the end of January, along with a rundown of the technical aspects of the work (I’m consulting Ed “Ninja Jamm” Kelly for this as I haven’t made as much headway with my arduino project as I had hoped, though I think the main issue is the Uno boards number of outputs….. Charlieplexing is a nightmare).
I’ve finally started a physical version of the digital drawings I worked on earlier the year. I’m loosely basing it on a few of my previous pieces, but I’m trying to allow the process to dictate the composition. Beforehand, I’ve thought that having a detailed and structured plan was important, but the outcome of this continued to vary, so instead with this piece, im giving in to my instincts and seeing how it plays out.
Having recently framed a few of the earlier Signals works, (everything changes in a frame) I was pleased and excited by their outcome. Conceptually, there is an element of architecture to these voids, and their erratic nature gives an impression of the digital landscape but at the same time they lack a narrative. This is of course contradictory to my interest in revealing the narrative through the viewers presence, but you could argue that each viewer would have their own narrative of the compositions (like any art). Then again, with no revealed narrative and instead simply abstract contortions of lines, it becomes a classic example of justifying contradiction and curbing narrative to fit the practice.
Nonetheless, for this piece I’m letting the process create the work. The narrative and concept has been set throughout the MA.
Below I’ve attached 4 newly framed prints from earlier this year.
I’m interested in distorting the lines with a frosted Perspex over the top of the canvas, to give a more screen like impression. (I’d love to add lighting to this piece but I’m open to change).
Last Thursday, I showed some new work at an event for Task Systems and Pantone. The theme was Colour in Design, which gave me a starting point outside my comfort zone.
Here are some images:
These are some pretty terrible photos of the display, however I’m waiting for the photographer to get back to me with the high-res ones.
This gives an idea of the layout.
Digital Identity and the Virtual Space Race
To look into whether man’s approach to the digital reflects that of reality, specifically through the cultivation and shaping of virtual environments.
To investigate the growing reliability of technology in the everyday and both the positive and negative effects of media consumption/creation on individual and group identities.
– Decipher the differences between the ‘real self’ and digital identity by unravelling each individually.
– Investigate the effects of Media consumption and creation on the user’s reality by considering the specific elements of media and the way the user interacts with, or is engulfed with its subject or effect. How does it alter our opinions / everyday decisions / habits?
– Create or find characters/figures to exemplify the effects of technology and their digitally altered lives.
– Approach the idea of creation / customisation / alteration in virtual and physical space. Digital architecture?
– Break down the city and online networks to their key components of structure, power, space, complexity and culture.
– Experiment with the equilibrium of physical and digital process to best fulfil my aims, both conceptually and aesthetically.
Digital Identity and its effects on reality will be my central theme. I’ll be making paintings/imagery, multi-media collage/installations and sculptures focused on de-ciphering identity and environment’s relationship with the digital.
On Identity, I’m intrigued by the open array of characters found online. Although users are fully aware of the publicity of the internet, many users still act as if your actions have no effect in real life. The lack of corporeality online gives each and every user the ability to customise and control their identities. This is mainly seen through social media, forums or blogs, however its tangibility is truly endless. You only have to watch Catfish, 2011, to understand its potential misuse, be it malicious or just plain shy.
The average net-user has the ability, if they choose, to express their views, share their ideas, or even just converse with almost 3 billion different worldwide users. This ability to communicate and contribute with these people is solely possible through the use of this network, and therefore our dependence on its growth is increasing. The more applications we find, the greater the dependence. The collective impression of your internet/technology use says a lot about who you are, and potentially even more than simply having a conversation with you. This culmination of data is the basis of your online identity and experience. This is a metaphorical idea, and no such ruthless data harvesting is known to exist, however the effects each of these online interactions has is on the individual’s reality and his/her own sense of identity.
I will be engaging with identity on a number of levels. First, within the individual, I will show the changes of personality and everyday decision-making brought about by the prevalence of consumer technology. Secondly, the identities of groups, belief systems and states, specifically their changes as they engage more frequently online. Thirdly, i aim to discover more about the creation of new and alternate identities online, and how they effect the individual in reality. Looking at the identities we see on the street, and now online, I hope to capture the honest existence in the everyday, and their technology dependencies, or lack there of. Media consumption and creation can pose an unexpected change in a user’s reality and identity. This digital media can be news, social media, google results, images, texts, videos, basically anything available online, that has been made to be consumed.
As I’m interested in representing the modern figure, I have taken to reading Charles Baudelaire’s ‘The Painter of Modern Life.’ This essay, from 1863, describes some of the key stylistic themes Edouard Manet used in his depiction of modern life. Manet, both traditional yet cutting edge, captured modern life in the way he saw it, as opposed to artists at the time who followed the trends of what were considered academic conventions. The raw and natural representation of the world around him, and his unrelenting view of it is a characteristic i wish to adopt. Other classical or painterly inspirations I will reference are Delacroix, Caravaggio, Courbet, Millet, Masaccio, Magritte and Dali. More contemporary inspirations include Bridget Riley, Jenny Holzer, Chris Ofili, Sol le Witt, John Baldesarrri, Mehreen Murtaza, Rafael Rozendaal, Pipolotti Rist, Mark Lombardi. Essentially my work, in the simplest of terms will present realist figuration alongside surreal, expressive, digitally inspired landscapes and settings. These will be abstract collages and impressions of our own landscapes and the imagined digital-scape. By decoding architectural drawings, city plans, maps, satellite imagery, network imagery, info-graphics, circuit boards and even the human body, I aim to find a theme within their structure, and combination.
Architecture completes a cultural memory of the area in which it stands. Deep in the cities, there are rows of buildings, each defining their own time. Just walking down one of these roads triggers a sense of physical history that reminds you what had been before. The internet’s current architecture, per say, is based on books, scrolls, images, and videos, however with the potential emergence of virtual space, and a consumer interface to use it, this current structure could be set to change dramatically. I aim to look into the possibility of digital architecture and the cultural identities it could form. A space without land, where the buildings hold influence from cultures from all over the globe. Its a classic utopian vision that any technophobe would cry at the thought of, though it is not entirely impossible, and thus i propose the idea of the virtual space race, except this time our mortality does not hold us back, only our interface, tools and imagination. Unlike real architecture, the user can customise their surroundings. The buildings within our reality are set in stone as the unchangeable landmark of someone else’s work. within this digital space, the user is able to control what the environment is made up of, and the elements within it, be it their own designs, or those of others,
Given the opportunity, will man cultivate and shape a virtual environment in the same way he has the physical, or how will it differ?
My research will be based on both physical and digital processes, with an aim of finding a balance. I will aim to include physical lighting, sound and sensors. Creating multi-faceted, sculptural paintings and installations will use a number of physical processes including mark-making, wax/clay cast/ wood sculpture, found and manipulated objects.
My work will aim to find an equilibrium between Realist mark-making and digital abstraction, Much of my focus be will be on the city, and its increasing connectivity with its inhabitants. As our cities become more dependent on technology, i will show this distinction physically within its representation. Although my primary skill is to paint, I will further my understanding with more technological processes, such as visual coding, 3D sculpting and image manipulation. I will add electronic elements to my pieces including lighting, projected film/animation and interactive sensors to capture the growing reliance on technology. These Digital elements could also be laser cut images, interactive sensors, projected animation or embedded lighting and sound effects. A lot of these digital processes depend on my ability to become confident with the software, and therefore I see these elements coming in later down the line. In the meantime, I will focus on painting/drawing and sculpture, with some photography and film elements.
To de-construct the crossovers between digital identity and the ‘real self’ through multi-media paintings and installations that in themselves only just find the balance between the physical and the digital.
To be true to the representation of figures and personalities in my work. I do not wish to alter reality to better my work, and instead aim to captured elements of modern life, and especially life in the way i believe it to come across.
To investigate the growing reliability of technology and both the positive and negative effects of media consumption on individual and group identities.
To harness the possibility of virtual environments in Continue reading