Although in many ways I see myself as a traditional painter - as I continue to enjoy exploring the medium of paint on canvas - I’m also fascinated by how new technology can be used to more actively engage the viewer. We're in the midst of a digital (r)evolution and so it makes sense to me to investigate how new technology can enhance or alter the viewer experience. I began painting scannable QR codes in early 2012, enabling viewers to access an online gallery platform that other artists from around the world could upload images of their work to. The site ended up with 600+ images by artists from over 25 countries and it was at this point that I began to realise the almost limitless possibilities of the art and technology collaboration.
I discovered augmented reality (AR) about a year later, which was very exciting as I was no longer confined to painting computer generated ‘barcode’ patterns. In fact, through this new technology I could alter or enhance the viewer's experience in even more powerful and visually engaging ways. Over the last few years, I’ve created three series of AR paintings that people can scan to bring to life, including ‘story telling’ paintings (with dancing, singing animations), paintings from Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with juxtaposed, dark and sinister accompanying short films, and my #EdinburghHacked exhibition last year. In the latter exhibition, I augmented the work with videos of the places and things around the city that were their inspiration, and then I digitally embedded these artwork images throughout the city’s main tourist attractions during the Edinburgh Festival.
In my new exhibition, ‘Would I Lie to You? The Art of Politics and Propaganda’, I will be exhibiting a series of ten AR oil paintings of world leaders created from rubbish found on the streets of Edinburgh. Each artwork can be scanned with the Creativmuse app to trigger the AR experience, portraying a very different narrative to that which the ‘sitters’ attempt to perpetuate. The exhibition will run for 12 days, coinciding with the US Presidential election 8 November.
It's an exhibition borne out of frustration with current political situations around the world. I see these politicians in the news, on TV, and it often seems like they don’t even believe what is coming out of their mouths. The scandals fly, the evidence is undeniable, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, globalisation chugs along, the masses protest, the masses pay their taxes, and nothing changes. The rich get richer and the powerful continue to benefit from the fact that the media is their tool and that people seem to have very short memories. There is no accountability and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it. So, this is simply my little way of protesting – not that I think it will do anything other than bring people together to the exhibition to complain about the current state of affairs. At least we can all have a glass of wine, a laugh and a moan.