Tuesday, March 29, 2022



Interface Gouache on paper 56 x 76 cm 2022

My head is full of ideas. Interface is a result of thinking about a lot of things. I've been writing and researching for my PhD, and this painting has been inside my head - my imagination - for a few weeks. 

Here are some ideas, books and thoughts that have influenced Interface 
  • Douglas Hofstader.
    I read Hofstadter's Godel, Escher and Bach (GEB) a number of years ago. A complex, innovative and imaginative book. During my PhD research I've been encouraged by my supervisor to think about ambigrams, a term coined by Hofstadter. I had forgotten that Hofstadter had written briefly about ambigrams in GEB, although I've often pondered on his ideas of  recursion. For Hofstadter, an ambigram is a "calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves." (GEB, p. P-19) It is something that can be read  in both up and down orientations.

    As regular readers know, I often use painted binary code as a way to 'play' with and parody ideas of digital technology. The painted code represents the object or thing that I am painting or expressing. I enjoy hand painting something that is normally represented so precisely in digital media. In Interface, binary code for the word HUMAN is reflected in the text HUMAN. I am visually 'playing' with up and down orientations and meanings. The painting poses questions about what it means to be human in a world where human-machine relationships are increasing. For example, what about human work, including creative work, being co-opted or assisted by algorithms?

    The 'reflection' of the binary code in the word HUMAN, and vice versa, is a kind of ambigrammatic ploy to question how we might maintain a sense of being human in the twenty-first century. The code and the word HUMAN are like shadows, but can we see them? Maybe they are shadows of shadows? Where does that place us?

    The word 'interface' is both a noun and a verb. What kinds of 21st century technological interfaces should we be aware of, as we interact and interface with them? 

  • The Cloud.
    Here I mean the technological 'cloud' - the Internet of Things (IoT) where interconnectivity and interoperability keep human beings in relationship with technological devices and systems. We cannot avoid, indeed escape, interfacing in the 21st century! Maybe this is what the shadows of shadows tells us? The background of Interface appears to be a cloudy tumultuous sky -  but  - is it a stormy sea? 

  • More Cloud
    Keeping with the 'cloud' theme, rather than the blue background representing a cloudy sky, I deliberately painted the binary code and letters in white to provide an alternative. Maybe the code/text is 'the cloud'. If you - the viewer - imagine looking up at this fake cloud, the blue background is a sky, even the cosmos. If you imagine being above the fake text-cloud, then the blue background is possibly a tumultuous sea. Maybe you are in front or behind the 'cloud', where it turns into a wall or barrier? This kind of imaginational flight, from below, to above, to around and beyond, is a critical form of engagement. I call it - imaginational metaveillance
  • Painting
    The paint medium requires no technological digital or cyber interfaces, yet it can be used to critique them. The hand of a human being is clearly evident. The dynamism between the paint and the paper surface, between the text and the background, 'speak' to relationships rather than interfaces. They 'speak' to relating rather than interfacing.

  • And, then there are ideas of post-humanity. 

  • And, of course, one of my major interests/concerns - militarised technology and the militarise-ability of civilian technology. In an interconnected and interoperable world interfaces and interfacing are key!

  • But, I will stop here and let you ponder!

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