Researching ‘digital arts’ on the net (where else?) has brought back some memories that confuse me. In 1986 when John Lasseter was making ‘Luxo Jnr.’ and Photoshop was invented/programmed I was sat in the computer room of my grammar school, drawing on an old BBC micro. We had a lunchtime drop in class which I usually did drop in to. I would do pretty good drawings. It was probably some basic programme like Paint, nothing sophisticated at all. I did one drawing of a person on a BBC micro, drawing, that ended up on the door of the computer room; I managed to impress the teacher Mr. Bostrum. I think this in part made up for my failure some years earlier when I had enquired how I might become a maths teacher. He was very generous in the discussion that followed, encouraging. Two weeks later I was messing about in his maths lesson which resulted in him getting quite annoyed with me and exclaiming to the whole class: ‘And you wanted to become a maths teacher?’ I am not a maths teacher, I never will be. All ambitions I had to teach died that day.
My mind then wandered to a time in the early Nineties when I happened upon a skip full of computer screens. Just the front bits, the frames if you like. I collected over fifty of these and had some idea that I would make drawings and frame them with the grey box. It never happened. I liked the idea of a wall of PC screens with drawings where the usual pixel stuff should be. That decade was one where I had no dealings with any computer. I did buy a word processor in 1997, which I still have, in order to write. Prior to that I used a typewriter. I have never been a longhand fan except for letters, which somehow seem inauthentic unless ink is directly involved.
I have a history with digital, albeit scattered and inconsequential. There is a history of digital art too. I never knew this and it stretches further back than I would have thought, back to the Fifties. I still maintain though that digital is nothing other than a method. Ideas count, ability counts. What label is attached to the work, by anyone, is immaterial. Actually making work, producing something counts.
I have finally added some research to the discussion board. I suppose the point of the exercise was to begin research and to get used to the way of presenting it. I still feel isolated and almost alone on the course. Everyone is friendly enough but the whole experience is so unreal. I don’t feel valid as an ‘artist’ most of the time. I read the big words and understand them and have a sense of where my artwork fits in to the wider picture but I do sometimes wonder if there isn’t a better use of life. Here I am, back again in the thick of academia, doing tasks to order. Thousands of artists around the world making work, chasing shows. It is a lonely, confusing life.
The book fair went well, better than last year. We sold stuff. People liked our stuff. I had a chance to spend time with artists in the same boat. We spoke to new people, potential new allies in the ongoing conflict. Many of the stalls were the same as last year, same stuff. I felt nauseous by the end of the day, too many cotton gloves and ponces. Artist book fetishists masturbating over every stall. Not my crowd. I don’t have a crowd.
I stood outside to smoke and noticed a plastic turtle on the path. I thought of a range of porcelain collectables; turdles. Replace the animal with a turd, a shit in a shell. For the garden or mantelpiece. As with all these limited edition items, each turdle can be offered in a range of alternatives; a new release every month. The tennis turdle. The french turdle. The Bard turdle. The mop topped Turdles from Liverpool. The texting turdle. The punk turdle. The dead turdle (touching cloth series). The sexually depraved turdle. The anaemic turdle (white stool series). I don’t know how this helps resolve what work I will do for my studies but it might fill a few pages. I can do shit drawings.