This project addresses the dominant, techno-utopian rhetoric of the digital age.
The focus of the project is techno-utopianism, and the project title “Digital Skin: Icons For A Pre-Apocalyptic CyberTopia” is intentionally provocative by containing a reference to both apocalypse and utopia, reflecting an awareness that the cultural discourse about technology tends towards grand far-reaching claims.
The artworks take a singular technological object as their focus; in the paintings this is a hand holding a smart phone; in the video it is drone technology. The paintings contain an image of the human hand closely holding a phone, while the perspective in the video shown through drones is a distant, gods-eye view.
The video “Minimal Drone” (available here; https://vimeo.com/129293876) involves overlapping the amateur, commercial, and military use of drone technology, and through this presents a portrait of contemporary technologies. The video is comprised of footage either shot by or of drones; the audio is lyrical music track, and overlaid on that are up-beat voices saying positive things about drone technology.
The paintings depict the mundane act of holding a phone. This references the wider cultural phenomenon of constant connection in a networked society and the triumph of the tech industry in shaping that culture.
They also reference their own status as paintings, as oil paint was originally developed to depict human skin, they juxtapose different kinds of materiality – organic, plastic and digital – into a dialogue with each other; this fluidity between different kinds of materiality is reflective of the collapse of the distinction between online and offline, physical and digital.
The use of painting in the context of the contemporary discourse surrounding digital media and the internet is an intentional artistic strategy, and an essential conceptual component to the overall project; from this, the position of painting itself becomes focused on vital issues of contemporary society, and what is broadly referred to as a post-internet discourse is extended and is situated within paintings historical baggage of power and ideology.