The UK recently held a referendum (ostensibly) over whether to remain in the EU or not. The outcome was 52% in favour of abandoning the Union and ‘taking our country back’ (and other mendacious mis-truths). The country is still in shock, the political parties are in freefall, and there is an overwhelming sense of confusion, grief and disbelief throughout the nation.
At times like this I am struck but how little direct agency I have over such things – sure, I cast my vote – but the ensuing clusterfuck is something I can only watch from the sidelines.
Without agency, I tend to react with art.
(At least I have control over the end of a paintbrush.)
This painting is entitled ‘#Brexit’ and features a skeletal Britannia, floating out to sea, atop a shit, wearing a helmet with UKIP plumage.
Acrylic on Canvas, 400mm x 500mm
Until I started painting this image, I’d never noticed how much the Union Jack shield and seated position echo the shape of a wheelchair.
The human brain is a highly efficient pattern matching machine. From the acuity with which our visual system can identify objects, to the emotional facilities we use to assess our social environment, through to our intellect and insight, we find and exploit patterns in the data – it’s what we do.
It is this very ability which leads to the exponential growth of ideas and innovation which characterise human culture.
It also means that when presented with a range of concepts, we tend to create a narrative which explains their connection. We like to make sense of the world – the more we understand, the more comfortable we are. (Evidence suggests that the core of our consciousness is better understood as post-hoc explanation, rather than direct perception. )
We find patterns to explain the world.
However, when we consider broader events and ideas, much larger than ourselves, we can sometimes react with suspicion and fear. In the realm of unknowable ideas, all sorts of patterns can be found.
@conspiracybot1 attempts to engender this feeling of unease by presenting disparate, but temporally proximal, ideas together to allude to a deeper connection.
The events have been harvested from wikipedia’s page-of-the-day. The first event mentioned always falls on the current calendar day, the second chosen at random from the rest of the chosen year. The selection is biased towards popularity (as measured by wikipedia page rank) and suspicion (conspiracy theory related events are preferred).
The bot produces a new possible conspiracy up to 3 times a day.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has just turned 90. To the delight of videographers the world over, she chose to wear a ChromaKey-tastic outfit to the trooping of the colour. So, I knocked up this quick interface to overlay her suit with a YouTube video of your choice.
I’ve been very pleased with the addled reports that @trippingbot has been writing whilst getting wasted every single night for the last seven months. However, I felt she should do more, perhaps represent her varying state in a different form.
Now she draws. Each drawing is unique, based on data captured from real acts of drawing, and via tracing the paths of a selection of algo-sigils. There are a number of parameters which control the way she moves between drawing styles, how erratic she is, how obsessive she gets, etc.
Rather than produce static images, I wanted to capture the act of drawing, hence the production of a video, rather than a still.
Watching her draw, one cannot help but project intention into her actions.
She is now drawing a picture every hour or so during her daily trips.