Artist’s Statement – Digital Art

When taken on as one of the artists with the corporate and hospitality designers Graphic Encounter, they requested I write an artist’s statement for the digital art I had posted there. I was leery about writing it. I didn’t think I had a statement to make. Then I started writing and this is the result. It’s probably pretentious nonsense, but at least I now feel qualified to say I have an artistic philosophy of sorts, and could probably wear a beret with a measure of justification.

While resident in Japan in the late 1990s, I became intrigued by ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement. In its often simple presentation of colour and form I sensed an aesthetic at work, but could not understand what I found so appealing. I became, briefly, a student and practitioner of the art, (pleasing my sensei more than I expected with my ham-fisted attempts), and came to understand the importance of proportion and standard motifs in any particular arrangement. The hidden aesthetic proved to be mathematical. I should not have been surprised. I had myself, after all, spent many happy hours in my childhood creating geometrical imagery with nothing more than a ruler and a few felt-tip pens.

Ah! Maths. There are few amongst us who do anything other than wince at the thought of it, and I speak as one who winces. I have two cats. I count them out in the evening, count them in again in the morning, and that’s about my limit. Nonetheless, there is something in our minds that responds to the mathematical, a fact recognised as far back as the ancient Egyptians who were the first to find the Golden Ratio and to recognise within it not only a wealth of purely mathematical applications, but also an underlying aesthetic in the forms it inspired.

However much we may consciously deplore mathematics, it seems – subconsciously – we are very susceptible to its charms.

Today, those charms may be revealed as never before through the use of computers. Through it, we have become familiar with how chaos theory and fractals, repetition and transformation present the possibility of a new aesthetic, and how the works produced so exquisitely emulate things with which we are familiar in nature such as fern leaves and trees, the very aesthetic of nature herself.

Much as a sculptor may find within a slab of rock the potential of a form which must be chiselled from it to be revealed, so the computer graphic artist must find within the generation of mathematical forms their own inherent beauty. From all-too-frequent blobs and amorphous noise, the artist must find the parameters that shape an alluring image in often seemingly whimsical and random shapes and textures which are, in actuality, mathematically precise. Just as the practitioner of ikebana works with mathematics and plants to bring about an evocation of nature as if by pure accident, so too the computer graphic artist as he or she develops his or her own aesthetic from that which is presented to him in the flowering of a CPU. Through small adjustments to how such forms are generated, the artist chisels out something reflective of his or her own personality, and ideals of beauty.

It is in this fine tuning that another opportunity has presented itself to me as an artist, and that is in the creation of works that resonate with one another. Each of the works presented here is just one example of a range of possible images sharing the same underlying theme. This enables me to create ‘series’ of works, each of them distinct in what it offers, but evocative of one another. This is of particular value when seeking resonance between different spaces. Thus an observer may wander from room to room discovering something new in differing images while the underlying theme is retained in its echoing.

My own tendency is towards the purely abstract, an avoidance of too-blatant repetition within any work. Though spirals and symmetries exist in my work – they are, at times, too glorious to be resisted – my preference is for a break from the too obvious, to permit a work to evoke a response from the viewer in the subconscious recognition of evolutionary forms. That which blares is soon forgotten. That which is veiled captivates, and rewards further appreciation. My desire is for my audience to return to my work again and again to find something new previously hidden from them, things it is very likely even I, as the artist, have not noticed. Art is at its best when the viewer completes the process, imprinting upon a work his or her own interpretation of the aesthetic to please himself or herself through its personalisation and further discovery.

In my work, I have tried to avoid the ‘science-fiction’ feel of exploding galaxies and alien landscapes which have become all-too common. My interest, rather, is more in the spirit of the abstract artist of the early- to mid-20th century in both colour and form. It is inevitable that some of the work evokes nature and, as with spirals and reflections, these are sometimes too good to miss. However, in my progress as an artist, I have come to increasingly appreciate the more painterly approach to abstraction, stripped of associativity, existing in itself, as itself, for itself.

There now! The artist as pretentious rambler and there really is nothing new under the sun, but that’s words for you – a thousand to the picture.

Please don’t look for me in my works. They’re not about me now, I’m done.

Look for yourself.

Pixels (dot com)
Graphic Encounter

*About Moi*

Born in London, England, in 1959, I had the kind of middle-class upbringing in the stockbroker belt of Britain’s capital that seemed likely to set my course for life. For a while, all went according to plan. Admiring of an uncle who had been an engineer on the Apollo space program, I dutifully enrolled at Sheffield University to study sciences.

Up to this time, art and I had had a love-hate relationship. A pragmatic child, I’d never much seen the point of it, though that didn’t stop me hiding away in my bedroom for long hours writing stories and experimenting with drawing parabolas and other geometric designs. Now, at University, one too many equations drove me out of academe. I dropped out, and became a born-again artist.

The arts being notoriously difficult as a path in life unless one has a liking for stale bread and cold attics, I decided to be ambitious. I was going to fail at everything. In the years that followed, I was an actor in a small touring theatre company; experimented with electronic music; wrote for the British national music press and other outlets; wrote novels and short stories; took up photography; managed the band Hula, including the UK Black Celebration support tour with Depeche Mode; became a political activist on behalf of the arts; messed around for a while as a hypnotist; and discovered that, thanks to computers, the designs I used to produce as a child could be taken to a whole new level.

As if that wasn’t enough, I travelled a great deal visiting some twenty to thirty countries, before – fifteen years ago – I finally got stuck in the People’s Republic of China.

For now, at least, Guilin in the province of Guangxi with its magnificent karst scenery is my home, where I continue with my artwork and subsist on a diet of cheap rice noodles.

Mengmeng, Lemon and Sparkle

By popular demand – our cats. All the photos are unedited and not of particularly high quality. Under normal circumstances, Meimei and I – when we make our appearance – would not be seen in quite so domestic a state of… well, mess… but there it is. Farewell dignity.

Mengmeng – the white cat. Meimei found her about a year ago, at around seven weeks old, begging for food and affection at the roadside, and brought her home. This once messy critter is now Queen of the House, aloof unless something is required for her comfort, but nervous if things are not in their place and, particularly, if upon encountering a stranger, when she goes ballistic with anxiety. Formerly nicknamed Princess Mengmeng the Destroyer, Queen Mengmeng has grown out of that. She has also, we hope, grown out of the epilepsy she first suffered shortly after being spayed. That has diminished both in frequency and severity as the months have passed, thank goodness.

The picture of me wading a river does have Mengmeng in it; a small, white blob in the top-right quadrant. We made the mistake of taking her out for the day, but the people around made her anxious, though they were a long way away. Her solution was to wade out into the river and then, totally unexpectedly, to swim across it to an island. Though January and the temperature a little above freezing, it was my job to wade – thank goodness, I thought I’d have to swim – waist-deep in fast-flowing water to get her. Retrieved, we walked back to where we knew a guy had a boat we could wave down. Unfortunately, as soon as we got on the boat, she panicked with this new stranger, jumped off the boat, swam back to the island, and disappeared into thick undergrowth.

We couldn’t find her, she wouldn’t come when we called. After hours, we gave up and went home, determined to resume our search in the morning, but that was a useless idea and so, at 9.00pm, we went back with a torch.

It took an age for us to rouse our friendly ferry man who could only give us an hour before he had to do something else. Fortunately she materialised after half an hour with her classic “What’s wrong with you guys?” look for which, had I not been so relieved, I would have throttled her.

Lemon – the yellow cat. Lemon belonged – still does belong, perhaps, we’re not sure yet – to a friend who would cat-sit for us, we for her. When they were together, Mengmeng and Lemon were inseparable and so, when our friend decided to go to America, perhaps never to return, we took Lemon on. She’s a far more homely cat than Mengmeng, more appreciative of attention, more cooperative in many ways, but given to destructive fits, particularly when it comes to Meimei’s wardrobe. She seems to regard it as her task in life to shred every item of clothing Meimei owns and, failing that, her computer chair.

It now seems likely our friend will return from the USA and will want Lemon to be returned to her. That may not be so bad now we have another cat, but it will still be sad to see her go. Nonetheless, Lemon has always had an air about her of a ‘visiting cousin’, though we’ve had her for some three or four months. We’ve never quite been able to forget her stay may only be temporary.

Sparkle – the black cat. I found Sparkle some ten days ago at the time of writing lying on a step where he’d fallen, we believe, from a roof, half-dead in 99°F, (37°C), direct sunlight. I doubt he’d have seen out the afternoon. Even having rescued him I didn’t think he’d see out the night. He was about five weeks old. Well, what a difference ten days makes. He’s fit, lively, loves his sisters, (it must be said far more than they love him), sleeps the night through or plays by himself without seeking any attention, (though he makes up for that in the morning), and is the best of the three of them when it comes to using the litter tray.

Mengmeng was very upset at the new addition to the family, but has grown to tolerate him, even offering the occasional motherly lick, though I still watch her like a hawk when she’s near him. Lemon, laid-back as ever, became motherly very quickly, but I still have to watch her closely given her unpredictable nature.

However, I’m not as wary as I was. Sparkle is eating heartily, gaining strength, size, and agility. I’m hoping in a few weeks I’ll be able to take my eyes off him…

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