Whilst living in Wales in 2003 I'd started to discover ( rediscover?) the possibilities of computers and digital cameras . Up until 2003 I didn't own a computer and only managed to afford one by buying a second hand computer from a shop in Bridgend called the car boot store. My first real computer ( other than the commodore 64 my parents gave me for christmas in 1982 and a few broken loaners given to me by friends ) was a hulking great AST pentium 1 , which I proceeded to take apart and play with and rebuild . I wanted to burn cds and record old vinyl albums I had started to pick up at second hand shops . The ast was very limited so was swiftly replaced by a compaq with an amd processor which was three times the speed and would take a much bigger hardrive.
I'd bought the compaq back with me to Ireland, originally I just used it to back up my cd collection , but then one of my ex partners kids lent me a very early cheap digital camera he had got with his much faster p4 ( thanks Ryan by the way ) so I went out taking photos with that .
|Outside Heartworks early 2004|
The images were crude, very low resolution
but they had something interesting I kept returning to. Eventually as I started upgrading the computer that I had ( from car boot sales and various computer breakers ) I bought my first real digital camera, a Creative ct something or other and started to see for the first time how a digital camera plus computer could really change what I could do with painting .( this was about the time I'd started photgraphing my sisters work for her and burning it to cd so she could send off and apply for exhibitions , which she succeeded in greatly - to date she has had over 15 solo exhibitions )
That first digital camera led to a series of images which still influences my own practice as an artist today, images like these .
|Assembling the ideal woman|
|Birth of the spaceman|
I think these images still stand quite well , and I've used them in paintings since . They were all done very quickly using the camera on a tripod suspended above a table , just arranging the objects in the same way that Id compose a painting .
Around this time I started to use the internet which came as a revelation , Ireland was slow to take it on and we didn't get broadband in Tullamore until 2006 . At first I didn't really get the point , but eventually it did dawn on me that here was somewhere you could share work and use to publicise your own work sidestepping galleries and critics , and the usual controlled channels of art dissemination . This also went hand in hand with my growing interest in the politics of information , operating systems ( I use linux and open source software exclusively for everything ) and finally the making of my own website , long since gone as other means presented themselves.
If software and computers give you extra tools and means of production the very use of them changes what you make . And so it did.
( the plane in the above is a cut out based on a painting I'd made in 1996 or 97 called catch the pigeon - I was obsessed by the cartoon wacky races as a child so the painting reminds me of that . Ive used the same cut out in quite a few paintings then and since)