In order to talk about the living, there first needs to be an understanding of the dead.
When things have stopped performing as intended or have been damaged in some way, it is common for them to be discarded or hidden.
But sometimes we keep certain artefacts that have broken-down nearby: relics which attain some sort of agency — their potency amplified by their transformed states.
Skeletal ruins sit alongside the growing city.
Would the Venus de Milo have endured so much without the mystery of her absent arms?
In Papua New Guinea the remains of the dead are placed above a village to watch over the living.
Perhaps it’s because they point towards a certain, shared future. Or perhaps it’s because they stand as a physical confirmation of that intangible and deeply unreliable thing that still manages to define us: memory.
As a painter, I am deeply aware that whatever perspective we choose to present is just our own interpretation of reality; that things fragment and mutate the further they are removed from an event until the nature of the event itself can eventually be brought in to question.
Being graced by an extremely bad memory, (and by bad, I mean woeful), I have been obsessed by the nature of consciousness and the incongruities of memory throughout my practice.
This is an early project that I’ve continued to draw on over the years. It began with a number of experiments which developed from an interest in exploring the fractured and subjective nature of memory, and the effect it has on the construction of identity.
I chose to look at this through a process of creating sculptures that reference aspects of the body and then subjecting the clay forms to dislocation and realignment.
Some are crude, some are hyper-detailed, some are spliced with other elements of collage.
After being smashed, twisted, sliced or squashed the remains were translated into paintings before the sculptures ultimate destruction and reconstitution.
The completed paintings are memorials to the ephemeral, with the entire process being encapsulated in the final product — the act of creation, destruction, and what is left behind.
Other experiments sprung from this.
These paintings are inspired by the ambiguous forms of the human skeleton.
Each bone was sculpted in clay based on interpretations of antique and imperfect anatomical drawings.
I began to break some of the pieces as the work progressed. I also added intrusive elements such as sculptures merely influenced by the shapes of bones, but which could never assume a function.
These impurities and Injuries enter the compositions like cancer cells; obliterating the possibility of the pieces ever working together in a conventional sense.
As the series progressed, less and less of the original ‘skeleton’ was present, until all that was left were these corral-like forms.
Abstract shapes and geometries have a way of imprinting themselves on the imagination, indefinable images that trigger memories, ideas and feelings. They exist suspended in a conceptual void until adopting a more familiar structure as the consciousness attaches meaning. It is this pre-data form, that instant before conditioned recognition, that I attempted to utilize and manipulate within this series.
For a long time, I’ve been interested in the anarchic — when things don’t conform to an established order.
When things don’t work the way they should, they develop a status of their own which both speaks of the new and strange … while at the same time referencing /or signifying the former purpose.
And so, the gathering turns into a riot. I expanded a study of the intimate and personal to include an exploration of the individual within the context of a wider social framework, leading to an engagement with the subject of the city, the crowd and the glue that sticks it all together.
Data Impressions for Esoteric Cartography
I thought I’d present this latest series which moves toward a digital representation of fragmentation by exploring, in physical form, the glitch.
This is part of an ongoing series of works in which I attempt to map the peculiarities of binary feed over a night in Melbourne.
The paintings examine an alternative narrative to what is provided by the popular media formed by the defects and unique artefacts which appear during a digital broadcast.
Impressions of a stream of data were taken across a night of ‘bad reception’. When observing this information, images are taken apart, elements are shared between objects, and our experience of temporality is hijacked as the lines between past and future are stretched into an alternative present.
Reflective of our current, media-driven existence, these observed breakdowns or anomalies could be more evocative of our existential ‘truth’ than the elaborately fictitious setups originally presented.
If religion is removed from the equation, then things don’t really have a narrative Ark, this we impose by way of social interaction and is only manifest through individual perspective. Yet we largely rely on these constructions to communicate. And at this moment screen culture dictates it to us.
In a way, I am playing at charting social dysfunction through mass media by observing the deviations unique to the receivers’ physical and temporal location and presenting a geography of failure.
I am exploring this data using a more traditional method by combining elements of impressionist/realist and alla prima (first attempt) painting — considered by many to be the heights of an anachronistic art form.
The paint is applied thickly and rapidly to interpret and translate the digital information into something more visceral.
I find that painting has its own way of breaking things down to their constitute forms.
This is experimental painting — they are not intended to be fully rehearsed, perfect renditions. More an investigation of an idea; a way of exploring a concept using the tools at hand.
I often think that a painting is like an encrypted code: information is arranged through the filter of the artist to be unscrambled and deciphered by the viewer.
Some pieces of this code are missing, however.
Could this series be about mapping, transition, prevailing technology and its limitations?
Maybe it speaks of the body/city dialectic in terms of digital discord and surveillance.
Does it reference the past, with an ironic nod to the ideals of impressionist painting?
It could certainly be an attempt at recording and interpreting a small glimpse of our time, through an examination of technological failure.