PERFORMANCE & KENETIC WORK
Cyberskin (2 Stage Transfer Drawing) , Artbots, Science Gallery, Dublin (2008)
I have done a number of performances where I try to use parts of my body to simulate the tasks of machines. My performances compare my own ability at performing tasks that are easy for the most rudimentary of computer drawing programmes or the most archaic of musical instruments. They comment on our master-slave relationship with technology by trying to provoke the audience to identify with me as an ‘other’, as a machine who functions purely for the pleasure of its owner.
Many ‘New Media’ artworks promote an ideology that celebrates a wonderful world of technological progress and creativity; a future where machines and artificial intelligence can help human civilisation to overcome physical hardship and provide more leisure time, entertainment, easier communication and a higher quality of life. My work is a reaction to this utopian view, because it is one that hypocritically ignores the dark reality behind the production of electronic goods.
Like robots, these labourers subsist by doing jobs that are repetitive and intellectually unsatisfying, and even work in conditions that drastically compromise their health; all to supply the consumer market with new electronic gadgets. Cyberskin (2 Stage Transfer Drawing) was based upon the seminal performance work 2 Stage Transfer Drawing-advancing to a future state, (1972) by Dennis Oppenheim. In this piece he communicates to his daughter through drawing a picture with his finger onto her back. A metaphor for how she is a part copy of his DNA and a future version of himself; his movements are mimicked through her as she draws what she feels onto the wall in front.
In my version of 2 stage transfer drawing, I pretend that my back is a computer drawing pad interface, made from cloned skin and nerve cells harvested from humans. I try to dupe the
Cyberskin (2 Stage Transfer Drawing) , Filmbase, Dublin (2007)In my version of 2 stage transfer drawing, I pretend that my back is a computer drawing pad interface, made from cloned skin and nerve cells harvested from humans. I try to dupe the public into thinking that I am a new futuristic communication technology, that can somehow convert touch into digital information and display it on a computer screen. The media controversies surrounding the Vacanti Earmouse and Dolly the cloned sheep have already exposed most people to the concept of bio-engineering, sparking outrage from animal rights groups and enflaming the ethical debate about the right of humans to interfere with nature through DNA manipulation. I wanted to see how the audience would react if I promoted my work as a real ‘cyborg’; a concept more akin to science fiction movies such as Bladerunner than to current scientific reality.Don’t Play With Your Hair, Bergen Kunsthall (2007) -Hairy Banjo , NCAD Masters exhibition, Digital Hub Dublin (2008)
In Hairy Banjo and Don’t Play With Your Hair I have continued my comparison and exploration into the use of my body as a machine.
In these performances I use my own body hair to make live musical instruments. My hair is stretched from my head to make strings that are amplified using contact microphones and speakers. The audience can attempt to strum my hair and make music out of it. With the equipment supplied, the music can then be archived by making an audio tape of the performance.
In My Hairy Banjo, the only knowledge the audience has of my mental state is from a video camera/computer setup that is programmed (via Max/MSP) to show only a glimpse of my face whenever a hair is plucked. In these performances I am static, incapacitated by my costume and reduced to a playful object or automaton to be used by the audience. My body is made into an object, assimilated into the design of the installation.
In the Cyberskin, even though most visitors logically realize that that there is a real person inside pretending to be a machine, they still expect me to work as fast as an actual computer. There is cognitive dissonance there, people cannot relate to me a person because of the dehumanizing costume I am wearing. Metaphorically speaking, one can see a similar dualism in the public’s consumption of consumer goods. The countless numbers of people whose human rights are sacrificed in the manufacture of components and over the conquest of resources in countries such as Congo and Darfur are rarely ever mentioned in the mass media. In this way they are dehumanized and so exist as a hidden underclass, mere cogs in the capitalist machine.
Through the use of subversive activist tactics I am attempting to make these issues more explicit by reminding people of the human cost of their consumption, and hope to encourage people to make more conscientious choices when they go to buy new laptops, cell?phones and other electronic gadgets.
Becoming a Franz West, MART, Shunt, London (2009)
In his series, Paßstück or “fitting pieces”, Franz West creates objects that explore his interest in the functioning of bodies in social space. They are organic-looking, tentacled structures of various sizes and shapes, painted in brightly coloured hues and made from cheap building materials such as Styrofoam, plaster and glue. They are removed from their status of being a ‘precious’ untouchable art object, and given a new social function as playthings in the gallery space, designed to be adapted and moved against the human body.
In Becoming a Franz West, I try to push further West’s concept of creating a playful interaction between artwork, audience and artist, by literally turning my body into an object. My performative version however is transient, unlike the original that will ultimately be sold on the art market. This piece comments on how the artist’s name is traded in the art market like a piece of stock that fluctuates depending on supply and demand by investors. A famous artist thus symbolically becomes like an object, his reputation becomes the property of investors as his work’s cultural capital changes into economic capital.
Meat Market, Refunct, ISEA 09, Plane/Site, Dublin (2009)
Meat Market is an interactive installation that, through the use of motors and electronics, allows slabs of meat to move or dance in reaction to ambient sound. The viewer canchoose a music station for the meat to dance to with the radio provided in the installation.
The term “meat market” is a derogatory Irish slang term for a bar/nightclub where its patrons wear a sexually explicit dress code. In the piece I want to draw attention to our cultural attitudes towards the consumption of flesh; both literally in how we eat animals, and in how human sexuality is represented and valued in society.
Beautiful Katamari, Mission Creep, Cite du Design Biennale, St Etienne, France (2008)
Beautiful Katamari laughs hysterically, jolts around on the floor in an epileptic manner and sticks to things as it moves.
Made from fun toys aimed at tourists to encourage their love of a stereotypical Irish identity; it is a self imploding, chaotic tangle of audio vibration feedback loops.