Brian Voce/ Autumn Issue

Our modern world is full of distracting ‘digital noise’, in many ways this noise ‘interrupts’ and displaces the conscious and subconscious mind as a place of dreaming. We need to create more space to dream (and daydream) to let ‘ideas in’ to give our minds room to breathe again. In this context the work here is a manifestation of this process of creating space to dream, making visual the ephemeral images of the mind. Much of my recent practice (the Bad Seed, and Fuzzy Logic series in particular), links to an interest in issues surrounding genetic modification of plants and animals, and the chance production of new chimeras. (How small changes could lead to unforeseen and unpredictable consequences). The work itself is neither pro or anti genetic modification. I see the potential benefits of genetic modification especially with regard to improving human health as positives (to be explored with caution), however inter-species transgenic modifications (animal-human, animal-plant) raise ethical, moral and ecological questions, and concerns about the consequences on human diet and health. For example inserting the genes of arctic fish into strawberries simply to enhance their ability to retain their form when frozen is for me unnecessary, a step too far... Put simply: ‘when I eat strawberries I don’t want to eat fish...’ The work takes the circle as a trope, in much of my work it is a metaphor for the ‘perfect’ seed a genetically engineered ‘Pandora’s Box’. I began exploring the way very simple geometric systems based on manipulating circular repeats may combine unexpectedly, to produce complex and unexpected outcomes through alignments of overlapping geometries creating images evoking ideas of ‘new and imagined’ flora and fauna. About my process: Creating the work is very much a cathartic exercise, in order to explore and resolve ideas, to release the ‘pictures in my head’ prompted by things I have seen, read about or encountered in the world around me. Inspiration comes from many sources: landscape, maps, grids, archaeology, repetition, science, nature, decay, and the urban environment, and the media itself. Whatever form the inspiration initially takes the starting point for all work begins as a series of sketches. These may be on paper in the sketchbook or as digital pieces where a computer allows me to work quickly and precisely on manipulating complex patterns. There are always avenues left unexplored and these inevitably lead to the development of alternative solutions and/or new directions. It’s a real ‘emotional high’ when a piece of work finally does come together although inevitably, it’s never quite what was initially intended as it always takes on a life of its own. At that point I have to proceed instinctively and let the needs of the work dictate the eventual outcome. I don’t really consciously think of a style; when I’m working the work is what it is. I’m responding to the pleasure (and sometimes frustrations) of the medium. Currently the style of my work is abstract, structured, geometric but often incorporating unpredictable elements using media where chance takes a hand in the final outcome. Recently I’ve been working a lot in black and white. The work is always carefully planned in the initial stages and the geometric elements are drawn up accurately but then as the work develops the structure becomes obscured by more expressive elements where the paint is applied instinctively. Looking retrospectively the unifying theme over all my work is the relationship between structured and chaotic systems where chance and accident plat a part in determining the outcome. Naturally one piece of work suggests another and so a body of work emerges as a series of iterations around an initial idea or theme. It’s only when looking over previous work that deeper underlying motivations begin to become clearer. I’m open to working in whatever medium best suits an idea and enjoy the challenges of working over a range of different media. My current work shifts between traditional and digital printing techniques, or working with oils or acrylics on canvas. (Previously I’ve worked in wood and very occasionally in ceramics). Each presents new opportunities for personal expression and have their own technical challenges. There’s always something new to learn… Alongside the traditional sketchbook I now use digital media as a way of exploring and sketching ideas. Often as a tool for developing images that will become ‘analogue’ paintings or prints, as a medium in its own right, or as a way of extending existing ‘analogue’ work. Working through ideas, the sub conscious and exploring the labyrinth of routes to an outcome is what makes the process interesting and excites me. I guess if I knew what the answer was before I began I’d be less interested in starting the journey.

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