Empty Hands. 09032017




Virtual Reliefs

I’ve been thinking hard about what I could produce at Anise. After some experiments with virtual relief sculptures, I believe I’m one step closer. It carries on from the work I’ve produced over the past few years and continues to look at more classical influences.

As a narrative, I’d like to keep it simple. I’m currently going through photographs from the past 3 years. Many of which capture everyday scenes in Athens, Portland, Berlin, London, Dublin and more. I’d like to collect different figures and scenarios and begin to put together crowded urban environments. Much of the focus will be on the use of the internet, consumer technology and the effects it has on the everyday scene. The paranoia of exaggerated news stories, the global obsession of social media and selfie culture, clueless smartphone users lost in the roads, the increasing intelligence of our surroundings, surveillance, smart buildings and cars…. etc. etc.

I  want to show the impact of ‘fake news’ and the miscommunication made possible through everyday access to live information. Tools such as the news bulletin and Twitter were created with the hope of informing the public positively, however it appears that the ambiguity of the information released only lends to confuse and misdirect those that use it. A more individual effect of this information onslaught is the re-evaluation of friendship in the 21st century. From having the unintended ability to monitor each others interaction with personal messages such as The “Read” appearing on a Facebook message, or the double tick on WhatsApp, to the amassing of Facebook friends that can accumulate almost everyone you’ve met in a decade. Forgive me, these are usually in a non professional capacity, LinkedIn, answers the other half of the spectrum. Whilst modern urban life is fast paced and time is clouded by the false impression of digital organisation apps and calendars, these features only act as catalysts for social anxiety, miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Social Media has impacted friendship and relationships, and what it means to meet and talk with others. Dating apps are an interesting example of this bizarre / semi-ironic trend of increasing online and decreasing offline interaction. Its ironic as it appears on the surface that social interaction has increased, but in fact feelings loneliness is on the rise. This is very debatable, for one, how long have humans been studying and recording feelings of loneliness, and two, social media is made for positivity, no one shares the shit day they’ve had. Scrolling through Facebook creates an understandable lack of fulfilment, especially if you are doing something mundane. This could go on. Every user has their own thoughts and feelings about this, this is just a small example of the initial thoughts I’m having about trying to capture modern urban scenes and the imbalance between digital and physical social interaction. A city scene without both aspects wouldn’t delve into this century’s current social snapshot.

I imagine the outcome will be a few rooms in VR along with some physical wall based work. Within the VR experience, the walls and ceilings will contain relief work and sculpture. The physical work will be reflections of the VR environment as well as ongoing experiments during the process.

Once again, I’m looking at work by Ghiberti and Rodin, but also L S Lowry, Keith Haring, Tamara de Lempicka and William Hogarth.

Below are images I’m using as inspiration for the initial stages of this project. Its basically a mood board.





de Lempicka:


Anise Gallery / AVR Residency #1: The Beginning

At the beginning of January, I embarked on a new and ambitious year long residency at Anise Gallery. Its been a little over a month and to be honest my focus has been to learn as much as I can off of the Realtime artists at AVR London. The office in Shad Thames is split in two. On one side, AVR London, an incredible architecural visualistion company producing exceptionally high quality imagery for new properties and developments. On the other side is Anise. Its focus is on architecturally inspired, often monochromatic work. I can understand where my work fits in in this sense.


The residency is also a job… I’m working as a Realtime Artist with the VR team at AVR. We’re producing high quality architectural walkthroughs that are honestly some of the most impressive VR experiences I’ve seen so far. The realism and attention to detail produced by the team is at a next level standard. You can peer at a leather sofa, and are still convinced of its material a few inches from your eyes. My involvement is currently a little up in the air but I’m hoping to find my place a little better when the next job starts. Their workflow is 3DS Max to UE4… Previously, mine has been Blender to Unity.. So this has been an interesting shift. I’m beginning to learn the ropes on 3DS. Its considerably more powerful than I imagined, and although I will remain a Blender advocate and fanatic, I can see the professional turn towards 3DS. There are a number of features that I cannot wait to utilise properly. Perhaps finding a workflow between both Blender and 3DS max maybe even a little Tilt Brush… I’m still very much so interested in the transferral of physical drawings into VR. I think 3DS max’s Sweep Modifier has the potential to shift this further than I did at Camberwell through bevelling and extruding .svg files from Illustrator. Anyway, its a pleasure to work with the team here.


My focus for the residency is to push my practice further on from the MA, and from the Portland residency in November. I’m certainly realising that pursuing a fine art practice with so many different interests in mediums (both physical and digital) is a tricky endeavour. Nonetheless I’m remaining positive and need to contine to learn off those around me. My biggest fear is to lose the physicality of my artwork. I felt this turn begin to take place towards the end of the MA and I’m determined to make sure it doesn’t continue in such a way. In terms of narrative I’m still set on producing works that altar and react to live data and input however at the same time, want to produce snapshots of past thoughts on internet architecture and identity, social media use, digital addiction. Since Portland I’ve become increasingly interested in location, and site based work / interventions. Let’s see how it goes… This site will act as a sketchbook for my research in and out of Anise.


Looking forward, Anise will be producing a group show this summer and at the end of 2017, I’ll hopefully be producing a solo show with a curator to complete the residency. There’s alot to be done!!!

Here’s a picture of the Queen clearly excited with the prospects of the residency.

Royal visit to Prince's Trust Centre

Anti-Social / Lonely VR

Virtual Reality has been presumed as the next big thing in tech for some time. I’ve followed this for a few years now, and continue to be an advocate and enthusiast of its production, success and use as an artistic medium. However, I understand the problems that it faces. Firstly, I still dont have my own headset at home, but I did buy a suitable PC. That purchase alone will continue to haunt me for the foreseeable future, and I’m only half way to being able to truly consume the technology…. It’s too expensive. When you essentially need a mortgage to enjoy a new technology, maybe its not quite there yet as a commercial endeavour.

The next foul issue is the importance of social interaction in industry leading games and experiences. VR is immersive yet lonely. Most indie developers aren’t yet comfortable enough to produce realistic or believable people in VR. This means that most of the experimental experiences you can see are desolate. Some of the bigger productions, and 360 films do have this element, however, as talked about in a previous post, there is not yet a possibility of interaction. This interaction, that we experience from social media has the potential to bring a new lease of life to an industry that has seemed as if its going to explode for a few years now. Hopefully VRs failure from the 80s isn’t about to reproduce itself.

vrlonely-1200x630-cAntipossible that we can be selectively aware of those around us in a space such as a tube carriage? Really, we only need to know, when to get off, out the way, if someone is pick pocketing or groping us, or god forbid, there is a rampant killer on the loose (by this, I really mean any significant emergency). Other than that I’d be happy to watch a bit of Netflix or read a few articles on my commute into the city on a virtual beach, on a screen the size of a bus without having to bend my neck for prolonged periods of time.


Automated cars hope to feed off each others data. Potentially allowing a car to think again before taking a turn, as a message has passed through the cars, that a serious road accident ahead has just occurred that will create significant congestion. Another potential use of this information sharing, is keeping each car on the road aware of cyclists. Can our smartphones use such a system? Information sharing and Cybersecurity is a terrifying and sobering truth of the Digital age. Its prevalence could threaten the growth of our internet and technology use. For this sort of everyday information / awareness sharing to take place, we need to be more comfortable with the security that’s in place, and the horror stories of hacking will need to be fairy-tales of the past. Unfortunately the likelihood is that they’ll get worse the more we rely on the tech. Hypothetically, if everyday VR headsets were to become a thing, with a reactive system that pokes the user to avoid collision or other interactions in reality, we’re all one step further to becoming lonely cyborgs…

Part of me (the tech enthusiast) says bring on the everyday headset, the other part (an actual human being)  wants to restore my old Nokia and move to mid Wales. Realistically, VR may be too immersive and its use may be kept for very specific applications, experiences and industries. However, Augmented and Mixed Reality systems could provide the digital use we crave and the social IRL interaction we need as well as giving our necks a break. As mentioned from Portland, augmented reality isn’t even close yet but lets give its progression a chance. We might all be lonely otherwise. Happy Valentines Day +1.

AR/VR: The 360 Illusion of Empathy

VR/AR and 360 video are in their early commercial stages. One of the first obvious applications is to put the viewer in the shoes of another person or animal. This will naturally allow the user to develop a greater empathy for the experience shown, however, in its infancy, VR/AR is a spectacle. Similar to the explosion of consumer content on the
Smartphone or the commercial release of television sets, applications and content, for the
most part, revolve around entertainment and gimmick. For the medium to generate impactful sympathy in its users, to the point where a change in characteristics and behaviour take place, the content has to be readily available on a day to day basis. This is clear in daily TV news, charity advertising and radio broadcasting.

Experiencing 360 footage taken by a homeless person or a refugee is impactful and begins a cycle whereby the user can relate to the everyday surroundings of that person. In order for change to take place, this cycle needs to come around to help or aid the people in need. At the moment, it’s clear that 360 footage is giving an insight into these surroundings, but isn’t necessarily generating any more impact from the empathy experienced than was done so before with sound, photography, film and live information updates.

This is not a completely pessimistic outlook. There is a definite possibility that Virtual Reality will trigger sympathetic gestures and actions, or perhaps alter behaviours in the near future.

There’s no doubt that it will be similar to previous broadcasting technologies, and potentially more significant in achieving sympathetic reactions. Examples so far are from living in Gaza, to life in the Ebola crisis or Chris Milk’s Clouds over Sidra. All of these are intense struggles for those involved and the 360 content certainly gives an insight into the everyday life of the subject, however I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable by my lack of ability to do anything other than view these terrible and tragic scenarios. Then again, maybe expressing that feeling is the impact that it has. At what point does voyeurism in this capacity become too life-like? And after experiencing such a life-like tragedy at what point is it wrong not to act to help those involved or those in similar situations?

There is an element of sympathetic thought whilst engaging in these experiences, but at the same time, like the consumers of photography and film, it is much farther from sympathetic interaction than is needed to make a difference in these crises. New users are understandably hung up in the spectacle of Virtual Reality or 360 videos but to push this forward, the documentary content needs to play to a continuation of media and an ability to interact with the people concerned. This is for me the main problem with television, but also the beauty of Twitter and other interactive platforms. I hope that 360 video can find a balance between voyeurism and positive interaction / charitable giving if it continues to focus on such mammoth crises of our time. I also wonder whether 360 broadcasting will become a centrepiece for news broadcasting. There are a number of ethical questions that arise if this was to be. In the heat of the moment, the camera can’t be turned away, only turned off!