It is as though we are living in a virtual reality; a fake simulation that masks humanitarian, simple, natural and healthy, happy living with commodities, consumption and corrupt, outdated judgements on alternative ways of living. We are forgetting who we really are and are instead governed by the part of our conditioned minds that have been tricked into attaining the expectations of the simulation. We are like characters in a video game. Every completed level providing nothing more than a key to the next, where there’s yet more puzzles, more enemies to beat and more of a chance it seems, of ending up right back at the beginning again. But it’s not the conditioned and corrupted aspect of our self alone that keeps us within this construct; it’s also the carefully designed layout of the game. The layout panders to our every want and need. Our own glutinous traits being used against us as we blindly consume, acquire and own, whilst forever collecting those little shiny coins.
My art practice is reflective, emotive and chaotic; a direct consequence of my search for the truth, hope for change and struggle to escape the current societal structure; a society that promotes an emphasis on economic gain, rather than our health and wellbeing. A society that provides our needs in the form of mass produced, health depleting food, medication and fuel and has no consideration for the negative effects of their production on our planet and the people that live on it. I explore our ill health and afflictions suffered because our societal structure.
I ask my audience to question the conditioning that they are being subjected to and suggest alternatives such as self-sufficiency and alternative remedial action. I also try to encourage dialogue and the sharing of ideas; I consider my online blogging an integral part of my practise, ethos and mission for change. I deliberate publically to promote discussions that question how we currently live, and seek to find alternatives.
My art explores mental and physical health issues such as addiction, depression, skin conditions and feelings of despair and detachment. I use personal experience as well as my research into a wide variety of topics such as scientific experiments like Rat Park which draws parallels between lab rats and human society and how their environment directly contributes to problems such as substance abuse and antisocial behaviour. The availability of clean food and energy sources and the administering of medicine are also of interest to me and raise questions in my artwork as to the viability of clean living versus the interests of the corporations that currently dominate the food, energy and pharmaceutical industry. I try to uncover the entities that are responsible for society’s flaw. I question the media, the political system and the big players within our economic structure.
The main part of my practise encompasses immaterial mediums that reflect my dislike for materialism and consumerism, such audio-visual technology and online writing, trying to escape the evils of commodity fetishism and monetary worth. When I do create material objects, I source recycled or unwanted materials such as discarded wood and newspaper.
I have been inspired by the late Joseph Beuys and his ability to use his artistic license to talk about society and the need for change. Beuys led me from chalkboards to the modern medium of film and the work of Adam Curtis. I have also been inspired by artwork that promotes a digression from the production of artworks as commodities, instead communicating through the context in which the artwork lies. Michael Landy’s 2001 piece Breakdown struck me as a powerful piece; a stand against materialism where any material by-products of the piece were unavailable for re-sale and Landy was left with no possessions whatsoever. I was similarly inspired by the K Foundation’s Burn a Million Quid. Although both these pieces were particularly self-sabotaging, the lack of monetary recognition for the artwork was nevertheless inspiring.
It seems that artwork that goes against the grain is laced with consequence; personal loss, legal action and wide stream criticism. My other area of interest is no different. This is the anti-establishment temporary masterpieces seen dotted around our urban landscapes; the work of the graffiti and street artist such as Jr and Banksy. The inspiration I draw from this culture is that it can be so temporary; a temporary ownership of a space where the only price tag is the time, health and freedom of the artist. It reclaims our streets and takes back the power.
I reflect subjectivity by exploring the fields of science, spirituality, sociology and economics; in particular Ken Wilbers promotion of Integral Theory, Stuart Hameroff’s work on Quantum Consciousness, the spiritual teachings of Eckhart Tolle and Neale Donald Walsch, the social and anthropological studies of David Lewis-Williams in relation to early art and human consciousness and Marx’s theory of social structure, commodity fetishism and production. These fields and theories are all part of this interlinking web that never fail to surprise me in both their diversity and their similarities. And they lead me down new and interesting paths, inspiring me to continue to externalise my questions, hopes and struggles.
My current practise is a selection of films. They explore how society serves us badly. “Look What You’ve Done” is about tragedy, addiction, mental health and assassination. “Rats in a Cage” explores the administering of badly prescribed pharmaceutical medication, the lack of support for a life free from mass-produced, nutrient depleted, environmentally disastrous food and energy sources and uses lab rats and street and graffiti art in parallel to reflect society’s flaws and a stand against them. “Fight for your Rights” documents one the ways I cope with these realisations; to fight, constructively. All films explore my ethos but from different angles; pain witnessed so publically, a reflection of personal protest and my coping mechanism for these mental reflections.
Look What You’ve Done uses my muses; the people whose music and messages I have listened to and felt an overwhelming empathy for. I feel that their deaths were in vain and that if we lived in a world that cared less about money and power and more about the health and wellbeing of our fellow humans, then they needn’t have suffered such fates.
Rats in a Cage is a visual development of a sound piece I made entitled “Dear the Powers That Be”; an attack on the pharmaceutical industries and consumption. The film documents my slow struggle to achieve self-sufficiency; sourcing materials, building planters, compost bins, planting vegetables and creating sustainable heat sources. It also gives clues as to why I am embarking on this journey and uses the parallels observed in the Rat Park experiment.
Fight for your Rights shows my way of coping with my turmoil in the best, healthiest and most constructive way that works for me. It paradoxically uses violence as a solution by practising the sport of Muay Thai to cope with feelings of anger and maintain a positive mental attitude through exercise and distraction.
My practise is now leading me towards an anarchistic venture inspired by street art and the parallels between lap rat experiments and where we now find ourselves within this society, where I intend to engage my audience in the idea that “we are rats in a cage….”
1st Class BA (Hons) Degree in Fine Art
National Diploma in Art and Design
GNVQ Art and Design Intermediate
GCSE Art and Design A*