A simple moving image artwork experiment featuring a rainbow forming a circle.
I created other, slightly more complex, versions of the emerging and disappearing rainbow, but decided that this simple version was the best, giving a degree of simple tranquility to the concept, as befits the subject and the aesthetic simplicity of the circular form.
This watercolour sketch was an exercise in creating something without any preconceived idea about what I was about to create.
It turns our to be a slightly sinister landscape, in the centre of which there is something that may or may not be a living entity. Originally this object looked more like a strangely shaped rock, but the addition of colour to it removed it from the rest of the landscape and turned it into something separate from the landscape. The blue dot in the image, which is just a circle of coloured paper placed on the image, gives the possibly living entity an air of sentience, as it seems to be contemplating a strange sun in the sky.
This is a piece of art that I created recently that’s inspired by frequent unpleasant encounters with dog poo bags while out on walks in the countryside.
On one walk along a popular track up a mountain in Wales last year the poop bags were so frequent that they inspired me to conceive of the idea of a path lined with an avenue of poop bags. I’m looking out for a suitable venue.
For the work in these photos it was a small step to move a single bag from the countryside to the art gallery. The question is, is it a real dog poo bag or not? All that I can say is that it’s described as being ‘mixed media’.
The image above is an example of work from a series that I created specifically to explore concepts from the worlds of science and philosophy.
The original motivation behind the work was a wish to devise a visual means of expressing the concept that our incredibly complex universe is generated from the interaction of extremely simple fundamental forces that underlie the cosmos.
The image explores the generation of complex forms from simple forms. The image is composed of two identical grids of regularly spaced small circles, with one of the grids positioned one above the other and rotated so that the arrangement of circles on the two grids are at different angles to each other, meaning that they overlap.
A simple algorithm is applied to the overlapping grids that dictates that where the black areas of the circles overlap the blacks cancel each other out, effectively leaving white. See the two examples below, showing differing amounts of overlap.
The two simple overlapping grids of circles generate surprisingly complex patterns, forming multiple and various interacting rings, some of which are obvious while others are fugitive and seem to come in and out of existence as your eye scans the image.
What’s more, when the two grids are rotated relative to each other the whole formation of rings and patterns shifts and changes as the grids alter their positions relative to each other. See how the patterns in the image below aren’t the same as those in the image at the top.
The square grid in the image is a metaphor for the deepest, most fundamental and basic level of the physical universe, where nothing exists other than the simplest of all possible fluctuations in ‘nothingness’ itself (represented by the uniform circles).
Complexity and structure come into existence when this basic level of the physical universe – the grid of circles – interacts with itself, creating intricate forms that contain a new and complex internal structure. It is this complex internal structure that then gives rise to even more complex structures within the universe, for instance giving form to the elementary particles that act as the building blocks of the universe that we’re familiar with (while also giving form to the parts of the universe that we’ve got no inkling about, too) .
I like to think of the patterns in the images as metaphors for ripples in the fabric of reality.
A sketch of an idea for a sculpture, showing an umbrella mounted at the top of a conical structure that has short filaments protruding from it.
I have a fascination with umbrellas for some reason. I think it’s possibly due to a mixture of their slightly Heath Robinsonesque mechanical structure – the hinged flexible rods that are levered outwards to support a stretched fabric cover – and their pleasing form when in the open position. Not to mention their practicality. And the fact that they are, despite their mechanical intricacy, very much taken for granted and dismissed as objects of great mundanity.
My first ever published image was an absurdist redesign of the umbrella, published in the Sunday Times in about 1974.
This is a visualisation of a concept that I’m thinking of developing into a piece of finished artwork.
It’s a form of environmental sculpture.
The work will consist of a conventional domestic rubbish bin with a black bin liner inside it.
From most angles (as in the image on the left, above) the bin will look like any conventional bin: however when viewed from close up at the front (the image on the right, above) the observer will see that looking inside of the bin the blackness of the bin liner gives the impression of a dark void within the bin. Visible in the void will be a glowing representation of the earth. The effect will be of the earth suspended in the vastness of outer space. The bin will appear almost to be a portal to another dimension.
The idea of a mundane rubbish bin containing a portal into outer space is very appealing.
I haven’t yet decided how the representation of the earth in the bin should be realised. It could be a dimly glowing globe or it could be a digital display on a screen positioned near the base of the bin.
The work is an environmental statement and carries an obvious message – that at the human race’s current rate of consumption of the earth’s resources we are treating the earth with contempt and are effectively placing the planet itself in the rubbish bin. The message is obvious because there is no time for subtlety here! Think of it as the sculptural equivalent of an environmental campaign poster.
The work is a development of a concept that I had in about the year 2000, when I produced several drawings of the earth falling into a wastepaper basket. The sculptural potential of using a real rubbish bin to create an illusion of outer space is a more recent development.
The emotional impact of seeing the earth floating in the black void of space inside the bin refers to some extent to the iconic photographs of the earth as seen from space as photographed by the astronauts in the Apollo moon missions.
On a recent visit to the current exhibition of the work Robert Rauschenberg at Tate Modern I was interested to come across a work that I was unfamiliar with – Automobile Tire Print (1953).
Here’s a photo of part of Rauschenberg’s tyre print on a T-shirt in the merchandising section of the exhibition. Maybe the idea of the T-shirt is that the wearer will look as though a car has driven over them. If it’s an intentional joke, that’s quite witty for contemporary art (if a bit grisly). Rauschenberg seemed to be quite a fun loving person himself though, so it’s perhaps fitting.
I very much like Rauschenberg’s experimental approach to creating art, in this specific case particularly so because the technique that he came up with is one that bears a strong similarity to an idea that I thought up myself during my early days as a cartoonist, when I created the greetings card below for a series on the subject of leisure activities.
I drew this cartoon in 1994 using pen and ink. Rauschenberg created his Automobile Tire Print using paint and a car. He did it in 1953, so he beat me to it by a good forty years.
A study of reflections using mundane everyday objects to create interesting formations.
Here ordinary hardware screws are arranged to form a dynamic expansive configuration.
Screws lend themselves to this study partly because of their physically dynamic shape – large at one end and then tapering away at the other – and partly because of their intended purpose, which is to hold things in place – the exact opposite of dynamic expansiveness – which brings a slight touch of paradox to the work.
Anyone looking at the image who feels that I ought to have lined up the screw heads – it’s a deliberate act not to have aligned them, even though in real life I am a natural screw head aligner.
In this work I’ve created a chess set out of short blocks of wood.
The first thing that the viewer notices when looking at the work is that the chess board is fragmenting or disintegrating.
Less obvious however is that the chess board is composed only of the white squares. These white squares are the tops of the blocks of wood, the sides of which are painted black. It is the black sides of the blocks that give the impression of the black squares of the chess board. The seeming existence of the black squares is a visual illusion, as they are nothing more than black holes. See the photograph below. The illusion is as true with the actual, three dimensional chess set as it is with these photographs.
Part of the impact of the piece is in the way that the viewer only notices the ‘black holes’ of the missing black squares on the chess board after already being intrigued by the disintegrating nature of the board.
The piece has political overtones, in that it is partly about the disintegration of power (as symbolised by the combative nature of the game of chess) and the disintegration of order (as symbolised by the rigid grid of the chess board). It is also about more existentialist themes such as dangers that lurk in the world (the black holes as traps or stumbling blocks) and the nature of physical reality (with the holes representing the unknown parts of the physical universe (such as the actual black holes that result from collapsed stars). It’s also just a nice visual illusion, and thus contains humour as well as its more weighty themes.