Do you read me over? A portrait of an Astronaut.
1995, edition of three, 4m w x 1 m w consisting of 32 panels screen print on Stonehenge paper.
One edition is held the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery print collection, acquired 1997
This work was a product of my project undertaken during a Graduate Diploma degree at Sydney College of the arts where I first began to investigate the relationship between the visual arts and advanced scientific digital technologies. My project was entitled The Fool, the Astronaut and the Scientist and I was inspired by the concepts of observation and dislocation.
The work has two perspectives, from afar and close up. Influenced by readings of Robert Romanyshyn’s Technology as Symptom & Dream, the fanciful wings that appear in the grid from a distance and are a metaphor for the departure from Earth; that the dream of departing Earth underlies the intent of Western Technological Society. On a closer inspection, under the main image abstracted to a half tone screen, lies a silver pattern of trilobites, extinct marine arthropods. This is a reference to my reading of Jean-François Lyotard’s The Inhuman, where the philosopher writes that the tiny algae infusoria were technical devises on the edge of tide pools millions of years ago when synthesized by light. Lyotard’s argument being that we are not much different to infusoria in our functions as a life form, its just that we have an enormous memory bank and we process our information arbitrarily. That is, beyond surviving, humans are also capable of interpreting life. But the question is can the human race survive the impending destruction of the natural environment.
This work was also produced using digital print-outs of half tone screens by using a computer. I had until that point, made half tone screens by using the traditional technology of the photo enlarger in the darkroom. So for me this was a giant step forward.
To put this work, Do you read me over? Portrait of an astronaut in context, one has to be reminded that in 1995, very few people had personal computers or a personal email account. The kind of technology that is so commonplace today was still but an idea at the end of the 20th Century. I’m not even sure if any of my friends even owned owned a compact disc player, I certainly was still listening to tapes on my walkman. To get access to a colour computer I had to borrow a friends lab card to use the Apple Macs in the design school as the SCA (still at White Bay in Balmain) had only one B&W Mac Classic in the library. I was fortunate at the time to be granted access to VisLab at The University of Sydney where I was introduced to the concepts of scientific visualisation with programs such as Houdini. But at this stage I still felt my place was as an observer, not as a user of technology; hence the perception of feeling like an astronaut. But while this work can be interpreted as a naïve interpretation of technology, I realise on re-reading my thesis that I had started to ask some fairly pertinent questions about the relationship with technology and art, the foremost question being, if artists use art to make technology, what happens when that technology is superceded; does the art survive?