“my materials are my subject, because they are not illusion, they tell the truth about themselves, in a way that paint cannot. Any meaning comes from how they are used, which is a deeper truth, about the built image, each piece is almost a still life, a combination of materials, to please the eye and mind.”
This was the statement for my degree show in 1992, in which at the time during that year I had been making three dimensional work from found and acquired objects that one hung on walls, wall specific sculpture, the work just before that had been still representational yet using collage, one was a landscape on canvas of a river where the land was made from flat collage using patterned paper bags from grocery store bins from round the corner near where I used to live in Cardiff and the river was a huge bedsheet sculpted using acrylic medium into a three dimensional form of a river which stood out from the canvas, the canvas itself was quite large and would have filled a terrace house wall, it was unstretched. That idea of solidity had played out its influence in many of my older works and so it is true to say that the problem of illusion sign symbol surreal language and narrative had played out during the previous five years or so of my early student career as a fledgling artist, and that at that time in 1992 I believed I had thrown off the constriction of illusion and sign and symbol and replaced it with the found object altered by construction in a slow development from painting into sculptural collage though representation could still be seen in my work and social comment “the rubbish we throw away can be made into something beautiful” was a catch phrase of mine at the time … eco-ethics and in truth also a certain kind of material poverty lent its influence to a way of making art that was in line with my green politics. Recycle to save the planet. Earlier than that my work had been predominantly preoccupied with surrealism symbol sign narrative and otherworldliness and subverting in those traditions the traditional aspects of painting and image making, abstraction was played with and also the subtle alteration of colours in natural landscapes to create eerie effect, the need to provoke questions, and that need to use that to make some kind of comment upon the world which came out in “The execution of the punks and artists” which recorded in a surreal manner the end of the Thatcher era and the cold war which led to the reunification of Germany which was all happening at the time. After University this fascination with illusion surrealism and sign and symbol returned (especially in my poetry) though I did begin to occasionally make temporary works on waste ground from found objects that I collected on site knowing that the work might never be noticed or seen was in my opinion an interesting idea and harks at street sculpture and street art that was more than just emerging … between 1992 and 1998 I rarely recorded work that I made … and a lot was given away or made in private and left on waste ground where I had made it, years later I discovered much of that waste ground had been remodelled into parks or had buildings built on it, which made me smile. Time records they say, I have always been fascinated as to whether one can draw upon the surface of time. (One day I will finalize a project where that happens properly … all I’d need is a gps and an object that I can install a gps transmitter to so that the receiver in a gallery can print out the line as it happens and as the object moves sporadically over the years) Between 1995 and 1998 I began to experiment occasionally with computers until 1998 when I got one and began to work more consistently with art programs … my favourite was The Gimp and that led to the twelve year exploration of digital painting and digital collage which formalized ideas I had about abstraction illusion and repetition … and subversion … it was possible to create digital work using scanners and programs and traditional methods and digital methods which imitated the effects of print making (back in pre degree years I had specialized in print making, stained glass and painting … somewhere in preston there is a house with one of my stained glass windows in or at least there used to be) … and of course the computer can imitate stained glass too … it is essentially painting with light this pixel screen. In poetry in 1998 the magic realism of the opening section of the excanto collection was forming and in 1999 a fascination with the traditional forms of poetry raised results which led to long years of ideas and developments … and had an effect upon the more abstract digital artworks I was making at the time and also upon the physical painting I was making at the time “La Boite de Pandore” “Pandora’s box” which became also magic realist, informed by Caravaggio’s dark brooding surroundings the box perched dramatically upon a set of objects hanging mid air … again that subversion of tradition which echoes back to “The execution of the punks and artists” of 1992 and may be considered to be a conversation with Magritte (I have had at least one before in painting though the painting on acrylic on cardboard “An attack upon surrealism” with a hammer a plug and other object filling an entire room was given to a friend and I have no record of it other than sketches of the objects. Those traditional forms of poem again subversion of tradition, to make modern sign symbol and surreal narrative and social comment using those traditional forms that beautiful meter that when spoken sounds so fluently musical lyric, echoes renaissance grandeur, like the traditional forms the traditions of many art movements also the cut and paste poem the new code poetry, the haiku … the image of the modernists, could be used to inform and in a work reference, hence Surikov is referenced in “The execution of the punks and artists” … and troubadors are referenced simply by the use of a sirventes in the poem “short sirventes about the news” … “The variations” which open the poem the abbreviated images actually references Andy Warhol’s repetition of slightly altered images in one work and also the madrigal and polyphony of earlier song forms and is a large spoken song sequence … again narrative symbol sign illusion truth … how two of the same sentences placed in different places can change the meaning. I still look deeply at the media at the materials that use to make my art whether it be computers paint and canvas grammar mythology, willow wands, found objects hats, technology because the material will tell me a truth and then the process whether traditional or otherwise will expound that truth even if the work contains the illusion of something even if that something is a hidden narrative a secret sign a personal or universal symbol a surreal question an exploration of consciousness even itself. If there is no overall style to my work that can be said this was his style, that is because the language I have developed over long years has been conscious to attend to style and even use style as a material, the style fits the work, the thing itself that unifies the body of work is not then the style or voice but perhaps instead the idea behind the narrative the substance the subversion of even a concept as a useful material which can be applied to any style that best fits and that perhaps style is the illusion itself.
The website’s name makes reference to a term one might have heard “The digital renaissance” … History : The era known as The Renaissance was a time of re-emerging knowledge, it began in the 14th century and in truth ended in the 17th century with the emergence of the era they call the enlightenment, renaissance actually means “rebirth” … “coming out of the dark” … and regardless of what anyone will tell you we have been in a Digital renaissance for at least four if not six decades, an epoch or age itself usually lasts a great amount of time .. the place forward a truth … the Renaissance was not an art or social movement it was an era an epoch and it lasted approximately 400 years, it had many different art and scientific movements within it … Mannerism (of Michelangelo) is just one of those. The enlightenment is considered by some historians to have ended with the french revolution yet it was that continuous scientific revolution that continued even through the Romanticism that came after the french revolution and led directly to the emergence of science and industry and the industrial revolution and atomic revolution and the modern dark age between the first and second world war, so I personally call the four hundred years that follow the renaissance the enlightnment epoch, Modernism was its last flower, perhaps Bauhaus one of its last schools. I choose historically to end that epoch in my view with the first electronic computer and despite the fact that it might be called an analogue computer and the turing machines before it used during the war … the birth of code (though I am careful not to go as far back as Babbage) and from that point on radio television supercomputer all lead to the digital revolution … the modern epoch the digital renaissance which has thus so far changed our lives beyond the imagination of past generations … you might be reading this upon a mobile phone … I’m pretty sure a renaissance or an enlightenment artist would be staring at the light coming from that phone with its strange non existent ethereal images and texts and think “Magic” until you take it apart and explain “no your contributions to science have made this so”. I predict that 400 year cycles of such epochs are normal and that the digital renaissance might last (if we survive as a species) 400 years and that afterwards there’ll be another enlightenment a digital enlightenment or a crystalline enlightenment whose seeds we are already sewing … time crystals have already been found … quantum computers are coming and we are only just at the beginning of space exploration … in the infancy of our technology and I would also say our understanding of art. So please do not misunderstand when I suggest that the enlightenment ended not in the 19th or 18th century but instead in the barbarity of the two wars in the 20th since I am looking back and seeing a larger grander picture.
the marriage of art and technology that Gropius founder of the Bauhaus school envisioned as the new unity almost predicts a digital renaissance which is not an art movement but instead is a historical epoch. In the same way of that epoch Warhol might be one of its prophets as the image reproduced in variations endlessly becomes not just a print but a model for an aesthetic that revolutionized fashion and publication and advertising as well as just art … an artist who makes an artwork upon a hard disk has to copy that artwork to a usb disk or a cdrom or a dvdrom or another media or another hardisk … and even though they create the artwork … one day that media will fail and when it fails only the copies remain … Warhol would have loved that.
Prose copyright n.g.w 2017
Welcome to the Digital Renaissance. This website is a gallery of my finished Artwork and Poetry collections and a Gateway to the other blogs I run.
Thankyou for visiting
Nicolas Guy Williams (B.A Hons)