Category Archives: digital art

Duncan Poulton, No Body (2015)

Mimesis, which has been doing the rounds in art since ancient Egypt, reaches a terminal point in this 15-minute film by recent graduate Duncan Poulton (what you see above is just a cut down version).

They may not be artists. It is hard to imagine them with such pretensions. But out there on the web are a small army of visualisers, who are to the imagined body what the camera is to yours or mine.

Poulton says that these renderings circulate online, where their creators vie with one another for ever greater levels of realism. So now, like Dr Frankenstein, he has appropriated these to make a narrative.

And indeed, it’s a creation myth, as a generic male figure develops an armour of muscles, a dextrous pair of hands and finally a soul, or at least a pair of dilating windows onto one.

In the final shot here, you’ll notice he’s clothed. Until then, he’s sexless. So even in a digital realm where you might think anything goes, we still have the fall and the subsequent physical shame.

Gamers already use avatars like these. But dare we hope that most of us will retain what David Foster Wallace calls, “a kind of retrograde transcendence of sci-fi-ish high-tech for its own sake”?

That’s from his novel Infinite Jest, in which the first generation of video callers buy into polybutylene resin masks and Transmittable Tableaux in order to deal with “vanity-related stress”.

Now, as this film demonstrates, we have the prospect of perfect hair, teeth and bodies for all our dealings online. That could be another fall from grace. In the meantime, we have a warning.

No Body appeared at Sluice Art Fair 2015, as part of group show ooooooooooooooo representing the gallery Division of Labour.

David Blandy, Adam Rutherford and Daniel Locke, Helix (2014)

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The first human to live for 500 years has already been born. So suggests a digital graphic novel by artist David Blandy, illustrator Daniel Locke and writer Adam Rutherford.

Helix launches next month and promises users the chance to interact with spider goats, DJ Kool Herc, Crick and Watson and the Great God Pan. But let me expand on that.

Spider goats are one of the finest achievements of the burgeoning field synthetic biology. They can spin web from their udders and this, apparently, has commercial applications.

DJ Kool Herc, a predecessor of this natural history mash up, features here as the inventor of hip hop. Professional fan Blandy has dropped him into the convoluted story of DNA.

As you may know, Francis Crick and James Watson also feature in that tale. But before uncovering the structure of genetics they worked on the Manhattan Project, another twist.

(Blandy and Locke also quick to give props to Rosalind Franklin who, despite her contributions to her colleagues’ discovery, missed out on the Nobel Prize.)

Pan comes into it as a foreshadowing of the goat story. He makes for a great illustration, in homage to Goya, holding court with worshippers complete with evil horns.

Locke drew inspiration from 1950s text books and and has worked up the four chapters of history and narrative in a flat, approachable and lucid style.

And what with the A-bomb, the hip hop, and the barefooted wanderer, who here lives to be 500, the project enfolds much of Blandy’s previous work as thoroughly as a double helix.

The pair were speaking at Lighthouse in Brighton on Thursday evening, along with a rep or two from Storythings, the digital agency which has brought the project to life.

But the two visual artists are keen to see a print version of their saga and hinted that the story could grow and grow, getting progressively more cosmic as it goes.

Graphic novels get a hard time in mainstream culture. Neither fine art nor works of literature they are often viewed with suspicion by traditional artists and writers.

But I found that after tapping through Helix on an iPad, just once, it really sunk in. This is surely a medium, given our web-fried memories, whose time has come.

Helix is a commission by Lighthouse and launches on April 8 2014. For more info on David Blandy visit his site, and watch a few of his films. Daniel Locke, meanwhile, is awaiting the publication of another graphic novel, 311 Ditchling Road, from Nobrow Press.

Trainofthoughts @ The Horse Hospital

You might think it’s a first world problem or a high class issue, but just how does a human being get through a seven hour traffic jam?

Such was the predicament of Micheál O’Connell, aka Mocksim, snarled up on the M25 in what it soon emerged would be a history-making tailback.

But while his phone ran out of battery, his digital SLR had enough charge for him to shoot apocalyptic scenes of stranded traffic through his windshield.

On his car stereo was a sound piece by Stace Constantinou, with which he was planning to work. So Mocksim timed shutter clicks to coincide with moments in the composition.

Constantinou’s piece was already a response to a nightmare journey: a once daily and claustrophobia-inducing commute from North Lambeth to Morden.

But this had been displaced in his imagination by what sounds like a raid on the BBC radiophonic workshop. Field recordings from the tube mix with scripted actors.

His protagonist does eventually reach the far side of a river thanks to a ferryperson and we learn that this place is called, with grim inevitability, Mord.

Mocksim meanwhile cut holes in each of his shots, animated and stacked them to make a virtual tunnel which the viewer can finally fly through to freedom.

The two works combine in a dryly amusing way at the Horse Hospital, itself once a pit stop for London cabbies. A place for breakdowns and delays.

So the travel issues just pile up. The UK road and rail infrastructure is not one of the great themes of western culture, but it’s still a pain in the ass. Why not make art about it?

Trainsofthought ran last weekend in London. Visit www.mocksim.org or www.myspace.com/staceconstantinou to find out more about the artists’ work.