“Emulation is often pointless until it goes slightly wrong. Then it becomes interesting and creative.”
(The following has been pieced together from several different conversations, and re-sequenced to read as a single interview. 2010)
Do you think work done with computers can be considered art?
My collaboration with computers tries to explore this point. If art is to some extent ‘what artists do’ then reducing the artist element and exploring the non-human interventions and contributions of computers help isolate and perhaps attempt to answer this question.
This is partly why the finished work has to look like ‘typical art’ based on quite conventional values. I try to interfere in such a way that the products the computers produce are art-like. Mainly because I believe that a spreadsheet would not pose or answer the same question. Also a spreadsheet, in itself, is not art.
And yet there is an interesting line of enquiry somewhere in that thought.
Every media has its own approach to the processes that shape it. What is yours?
It’s quite similar to photography. In photography images can be endlessly captured. In the end the final work is the result of a process of elimination. My art on computers follows the same mode of multiple creations and then exclusions. In this way, hopefully, I get to throw the rubbish bits away.
Are your initial sketches also done on a computer?
I don’t sketch, paint or draw anymore. Mostly because I found I could do only things I already knew. I find chance produces far more surprising results. All of life is blind chance. It is an illusion to think that I can maintain control. I can make decisions about the very small things and that is about it.
Do you start with a blank canvas?
I’d say my work is fundamentally reactive not proactive. I’ve never started with an empty canvas. Even as a prequel to ideas I always seem to need something to get me started. Then my ineptness and naivety take over and I’m well on my way. I can’t be incompetent with a blank screen.
Apart from involving computers what is the reason for including your conversations with them?
I don’t think that my conversations with a computer are actually a conversation as such, nor is it strictly with a computer. Now that would be really interesting! Instead it is a call and response structure designed by someone who hopes to emulate a conversation. That’s not the same thing. Emulation is often pointless until it goes slightly wrong. Then it becomes interesting and creative.
All this started me thinking about cultural alienation, as in the outsider, not quite understanding the conventions, always slightly misinterpreting situations what I call ‘living in a state of cultural strangeness’. Sometimes the results can be amusing, or they can offer a fresh point of view.
A lot of the time art is about setting off in a direction without a map. Occasionally all I need is a little nudge.