Saturday 21 October 2017


This is my favourite photograph. I found it on a Facebook group for old photos from my hometown, and I don't know who took it or even who the kids are. It looks like it's from the 1970s.

In the image we have seven kids, presumably friends, posing to have their picture taken while a British army helicopter is being directed to land in a nearby field. You get a real sense of the event, of how this would be a time for mum or dad to run and get the camera out. It makes you wonder what the actual circumstances were.

This kind of scene became a familiar sight when I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s. I recall how, as a kid, my friends would approach soldiers when they walked down our street, asking them to see their guns, spy down the aim or the scope. Apparently, they always had sweets or biscuits. Soldiers in our border village was a familiar sight, and when you didn't know otherwise, you just accepted it as the norm.

It's only on later reflection when conversing with an old friend, that I realised how absurd it all was.

"You know the soldiers only talked to us because they knew they wouldn't be as much of a target standing beside a kid."

There's naivety in this photo. Perhaps it was something to do with how my village has always been mixed religion, or because it's from a time before the British army was a familiar sight and the full horror of the troubles was yet to be manifest.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why this is my favourite photograph, but perhaps the most cogent reason is the strong juxtaposition of two themes:

The naivety of kids, of the community, of the government, the childish fascination with war, versus the brutal reality of what was to come with growing up, culturally, developmentally and as a country.

Monday 16 October 2017



So I’ve finally succumbed to producing some work about emojis. As much as emojis are the lowest common denominator (in so far as internet culture), they do offer something that I’ve found tirelessly endearing and humorous.  

The influence of emojis is immediately visible across all generations and is indeed a product of the post-internet age. Much has already been written about the subject, and there are already a large number of artists using the symbols as inspiration. I read someone referring to them as modern day hieroglyphics, and although this is somewhat true, I think this is something of a narrow approach.

I’ve explored the idea of using everyday objects in still-life with both painting and collecting found images in my project ‘eBay Morandi’ from a good few years ago.

The following examples are of three radio devices that I selected for their similarity in shape and arrangement. I was interested in using contemporary objects with unusual form factors and also in how people photographed them for different purposes (in this instance, for sale on the popular auction website, eBay). I also produced some paintings for this project in a similar manner.

The inclusion of still-life artists Giorgio Morandi in the title of these projects is a little bit of highlighting and positioning the work in a historical context, and a little bit of my fascination of repetition in art. Morandi lived through two world wars and never once faltered from his signature approach. Yes–I acknowledge that there are some landscapes and other pieces, but Morandi was mostly known for his excellent still-life work. Something about how emojis can be repeated to drive home a point, or how some people use the same emojis so many times they become associated with them on a deeper level relates back to my understanding of Morandi’s clear focus on painting his pots, vessels and cups.

I have some hesitation to produce work based on emojis. Consider firstly how much of a cop out (culturally) it is and secondly how there are already artists producing work thematically inspired by them.  I think this could be an intriguing and unique take on the subject and, if it works, could be something of an easy win. In an interview with Axis (arts website) I mentioned that I’d like to revisit eBay Morandi at some stage. I’m not sure this is quite what I had in mind, but it does feel like it could be a spiritual successor. Stay posted for further developments.

Wednesday 4 October 2017



I met someone I hadn’t seen in a long time last week who asked me about how I was doing with some of my sound art work. I recalled a project I started a little while ago where I was playing some feedback into Logic Pro X and using the Flex Pitch and Melodyne style auto-tune tools to digitally retrieve some musical notation from the noise. The example that I added to this blog was a version of the feedback-rich European Son by The Velvet Underground, as this experiment (somewhat fittingly) had just followed the death of Lou Reed in 2013.

I thought about revisiting this project as I’d never really fully explored what results this process could bring and in what way could the algorithm be manipulated. Also, it's a process that I’ve been able to do before, and it should be a relatively easy win to make some new work.

To start with, I recorded some banal commuting in an attempt to break the idea down into perhaps its purest form. I had considered using some more recognisable recordings, such as from popular culture/film/history but decided to keep it simple. There might be something more meaningful in the future, but I wanted to start again with something fairly basic and see if it can work.

The outcome has been somewhat different this time, with the software manipulation proceeding to one further stage whereby the interpreted notation is printed off as a score. I felt this might be an exciting lead to something physical, or perhaps as a piano recital, or maybe even a printed book of sheet music documenting my totally dull commutes over a period of weeks.

The Digital Scores project by Berlin-based Andreas Müller-Pohle springs to mind. Müller-Pohle digitally interpreted the oldest known photograph and then, in binary, printed off the results. This was back in 1995. There might be something about the choice of photograph here that might inform my future choice of subject matter regarding my audio sources.

I can’t help but feel that a lot of ‘Digital Art’ seems to involve the mere act of translating one thing to another: something of an analogue/digital conversion. I’ve written a word down in my sketchbook that I thought might describe this type of practice–Conversionism. I’m not trying to assume a new ‘ism’, just a trait that I have noticed for some time about art like this. Perhaps this speaks more about my hesitancy about this kind of work than the broader art world, but there probably should be something more about Digital Art than solely using technology to convert one thing into another thing.