As part of my work with The Fortunecats we re-engineered one of our giant golden cats to become an algo God of capitalism for the Art of Bots show at Somerset House.


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Gordon Moore (2010)

We live in an electronic age, where the microprocessor is ubiquitous. So pervasive is the use of integrated circuitry, that we have become indifferent to the phenomenal computational power surrounding us, and hence blithe to it’s disposability. In the late 60s when semiconductor technology was in its infancy, and the integrated circuit was still a novelty, a young scientist at Caltech, named Gordon Moore made the insight that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit was doubling every 18 months or so. This speculation became known as ‘Moore’s Law’, and has held up surprisingly well, with contemporary CPU chips containing millions upon millions of transistors, and increasing in computational power at an exponential rate.

With such growth comes inevitable redundancy – the state-of-the-art gadget you crave today will be left to gather dust in the back of a drawer in a couple of years time. It’s easy to lose sight of this rate of change, in fact, that we don’t just take it for granted, but actively expect smaller, faster, more feature-filled devices to replace the ones we found miraculous just a few months ago.

4-colour spray stencil on DEC Hi-Note Laptop

Which brings us to this piece – a portrait of Gordon Moore, from the 60s, about the time he first suggested his ‘law’. I have stencilled the portrait onto a 1995 DEC Hi-Note Laptop, which when released was a state-of-the-art device, retailing for £2360 + VAT – and now worth less than the price of a canvas.

I tried to estimate how many (now worthless) transistors this device contains:

  • CPU – 486DX = approx 1 million
  • Screen (800×600, colour) = 800x600x3= 1,440,000
  • RAM (24MB) = 24x1024x1024x8 = 243,793,920
  • Supporting chipset = approx 0.5M

This rough calculation suggests there are nearly 250 million transistors in this device alone. As you can see, the device has an ‘Intel inside’ sticker – After leaving Caltech, Gordon Moore went on to found the Intel Corporation, and now has an estimated personal worth of $3.7B …

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The Mask of Thanatos (2009)

A change in tone and a change in style. And what better way to cleanse the pallette than to eschew all previous techniques and start afresh. This piece is a stencil, in silver, black, grey and red. I’ve painted on the back of the canvas, as a hat-tip to the master. The canvas is framed in found objects; stones, lightbulbs, plastic ants, safety pins, toy parts, transistors and other drossy ephemera.

Spray paint and found objects on canvas, 406mm x 406mm

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Giardia Lamblia (2008)

Giardia Lamblia has been on my list to paint for a long time. It is a flagellated protozoan parasite that colonises and reproduces in the small intestine. This painting is a ‘view from below’, or an ‘intestinal villi-eye view’ if you prefer, of Giardia coming in to land…

Acrylic & Silicone on Canvas 600mm x 600mm

It lives in cyst form for months in all sorts of water conditions, waiting for a human, or other mammal, to ingest it. It has existed unchanged, in this form, for millions of years. Initially it was thought to lack mitochondria, but recent research has revealed organelles which point to some sort of bacterial symbiosis in its history.

If you should become infected with these critters, expect the following [from wikipedia]

Symptoms of infection include (in order of frequency) diarrhea, malaise, excessive gas (often flatulence or a foul or sulphuric-tasting belch, which has been known to be so nauseating in taste that it can cause the infected person to vomit), steatorrhoea (pale, foul smelling, greasy stools), epigastric pain, bloating, nausea, diminished interest in food, possible (but rare) vomiting which is often violent, and weight loss.[3] Pus, mucus and blood are not commonly present in the stool. It usually causes “explosive diarrhea” and while unpleasant, is not fatal.

Here is a timelapse recording of the painting process, music by ‘Return to Netley, things have changed’:

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Entamoeba Histolytica (2008)

After a little haitus from painting, I’m back in the saddle and have decided to extend my collection of Human Pathogens.

Entamoeba Histolytica is a unicellular organism which causes Amoebic Dysentry. I’ve painted three of them here, all in the excystation phase, where cells with multiple nuclei split apart and rapidly infect the host.

From wikipedia:

Symptoms can include fulminating dysentery, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain. The amoeba can actually ‘bore’ into the intestinal wall, causing lesions and intestinal symptoms, and it may reach the blood stream. From there, it can reach different vital organs of the human body, usually the liver, but sometimes the lungs, brain, spleen, etc. A common outcome of this invasion of tissues is a liver abscess, which can be fatal if untreated.

Acrtylic and mixed media on canvas 600mm x 600mm

No timelapse film this time, my tripod was out on loan.

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