Art/art-technology practice

Nonlinear Magic (Jan 2024)

Nonlinear Magic as exhibited

(With Fania Raczinski) exhibited at New Generations (2024) LCB Depot, Leicester.

This is a further development of our magic square application adapted for continual public display.

We now have data for thousands of magic squares and spent four years refining and working on this online combined exhibition/research tool. This is the first time we’ve created prints from digital work, and the first time the online work itself has had a public viewing.

880 (Dec 2019)

screenshot of 880

(With Fania Raczinski) First exhibited at Interact 2019 LCB Depot, Leicester.

Created from the webapp (code on GitHub) and the magic square galleries

Variations on the magic line traced by joining the integers of a magic squares in sequence or other adaptations. (I've been using magic squares since the 1970s but only discovered the late Vera Molnar's work during the research for this!)

Personal Space (2018)

screenshot of Personal Space

(With Fania Raczinski) First exhibited April 2018

Personal Space online "save to home screen" for mobile.
GitHub Personal Space code

individual diary entries containing words programmatically selected to match the intensity of live space weather data (intensity of geomagnetic activity and extent of solar wind). The text is continually refreshed from over 500 intimate writings

Computer Arts Society talk, Leicester 2015

screenshot of Explorations in Art and Technology

(Video by Sean Clark temporarily unavailable)

This gave an overview of some recent and current research/experimental threads.

This is expanded, together with more documentation about two previous larger participatory works 64 Samples (2000) and Club Confessional (2001) in the updated Explorations in Arts and Technology (2018) (original: 2002 version)—cheaper used versions available—which featured a cover showing the movement-tracking system Mike Quantrill and I set up around 2000.

cubeLife (1998, 2011)

small picture of cubeLife

(first exhibited 1999, last exhibited at DMU Cube gallery, Phoenix Square, Leicester UK, 2011)

Captures the collective heartbeats of every participant with mathematical animation and sound. CubeLife at original bioMatrix web page 1999 and on the Archive of Digital Art. See stillshot galleries (1999-2011). Read about the background and origins here. CubeLife is part of a larger ongoing project, based on magic squares and cubes.

"through recording an individual's heartbeat on computer then translating it into an image and an object (the artist) has created art which is completely individual to the viewer." - Artists Newsletter, May 2000

Club Confessional (2001)

Club Confessional participants at Tilburg, Holland

Club Confessional was a commissioned work at The Junction, Cambridge and the night club 013 in Tilburg, Holland.

“A white cube was constructed in the club, inverting the familiar ‘white cube’ gallery space. Inside were instructions encouraging participants to disclose secrets into a microphone. Their mute video was displayed on the dance floor, while their (effectively anonymous) audio was piped elsewhere throughout the club for others so hear. The cube was in constant use each night by participants, who willingly contributed deliberately ephemeral, ongoing re-broadcasted words and image as the content of an artwork… created entirely within the white cube."

64 samples (2000)

screen shot of performed digital work

July 25/26, Richard Attenbrough Centre, Leicester, England

64 samples was the commissioned public participatory digital work involving 64 delegates at the Wired & Dangerous conference (original site dead—see the original leaflet here). Part of a then-new initiative by Arts Council England to investigate the Impact of Technology on the Creative Process, and the final conference in the Get Wired series.

"An image, audio clip, and some anonymised personal data was taken from 64 delegates to the conference, added to a virtual 3D cube of flesh, then animated live along with remixed sound from their audio clips."

Sensor Grid

Image generated by movement through an infra-red sensor grid

Sensor Grid (2001): Produced as part of a residency creating a digital artwork to find various ways of tracking human movement through an infra-red sensor grid. Hosted at Loughborough University, not exhibited.

"The form and light intensity of the projected image reflected accumulative movement through the grid, the image changing as participants moved (or in one case danced) about the space. Five notes from a whole-tone scale sounded as beams were crossed, with two beams triggering an entire tone sequence. During public tests people smiled with pleasure at the effect…"

The Emergency Artlab (2000-2002)

Portrait of the Emergency Artlab artists

With Mike Quantrill and (on one occasion) Matt Rogalsky and Pip Greasley, the Emergency Art Lab was formed to deliver rapidly-created performance and participatory/interactive works at specific non-gallery spaces. We created art-technology work on the spot with some live coding in response to an event, with a tongue-in-cheek element concerning the status of art-technology (the lab coats). Live works took place at Leicester and Cambridge in the U.K. and Tilburg in the Netherlands. The following three projects were the main outputs:

Digital sketches and small works

Image generated by GPS movement tracking

I continually produce experimental code sketches to test an idea or try something in various graphic programming environments, covering a range of technologies over time from the humble animated GIF, though CSS, to Processing and NodeBox. The Java-based Processing works are no longer supported in browsers, others must be downloaded and run on your machine, five are adapted from pre-existing or tutorial code, the rest are original. Cellular Automata (temporary equilibrium between 'ice' and 'fire') runs on GitHub (see code)

Also see other visual work

There is more material (sometimes opening a new window) scattered throughout the site. If you find it, great, but—like the automatic drawing—it's no longer my main focus. For many years and for personal reasons I also maintained a special interest in art and disability, and see my rambling biography for more information.

Coloured Drawing

coloured pencil image based on the Golden Section

Careful small, detailed icon-like coloured pencil images (I never got on with paint of any kind) taken from found squiggles, fragments of children’s drawings, collected scraps, dreams and interests in geometry and mathematics, with an admixture of post-theosophical, occult and magical symbolism. These were only exhibited once or twice, on one occasion at Nottingham Castle. See other visual work.

Automatic Drawing

organic and convoluted pencil drawing

Like the surrealists and spiritualists of the C19. I empty my mind and let the emerging images take over, starting either with a series of random marks, or with some small detail on the page. Drawing in a kind af hypnotic state I find it very hard to talk, sometimes drawing for over four hours and getting through two pencils. If someone is with me, my impression of their presence can appear in the picture. See other visual work.

"Specialisation is for insects"

Dave behind the scenes with four computers at Wired and Dangerous

Artist's statement

Until recently I was a free-floating senior research fellow at the IoCT (plus energy monitoring at the IESD, now as spin-off company EcoVisum) at De Montfort University, Leicester. In the late 90s and early 2000s I was an independent researcher at Loughborough University, based the supportive art-technology environment maintained by Ernest Edmonds and Linda Candy, where I developed cubeLife. I now keep an ideas sketchbook for new projects, and have a couple of ongoing projects. My last artist statement and condensed visual portfolio are here (both outdated for now):

I have an ongoing interest in the ideas that shape culture, particularly those that change our perspective of the natural world and ourselves. Historically, this includes the influence of Theosophy on artists during the modernist period.


cubeLife and magic matrices

CubeLife originated at the Creativity & Cognition Research Studios (C&CRS) and the former Gallery of the Future, Loughborough University in collaboration with Greg Turner, supported by Arts Council England Year of the Artist funding with other C&CRS artists working with technology. The audio (with sound engineer Kate Rounding) is the digitally treated sound of a clay bowl filled with water. The heartbeat monitor and clay bowl bridge the chasm between our four-million year old biological body and the rapidly-evolving digital world. Read more about cubeLife here.

If you'd like to know more about the history and context of art-technology, see (among many other books) Media Art Histories and White Heat Cold Logic. A detailed outline of MediaArt Histories is available.

Contact me here…
I make art to express what might otherwise remain unmanifest
and to connect with people who respond and participate
within group activity to progress through intelligent co-operation