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That Will Cheat Us

“It Is An Illusion …

… that will cheat us of being in touch deeply with the people breathing right next to us” (Anais Nin in Popova, 2013).

This was experimentation. I was searching for something. But I didn’t really know what it was. I was playing around with techniques that seemed intuitive to me and that came naturally. It felt like me. Which is perhaps what I was looking for. There is a piece from earlier in 2020 that I titled, ‘The Cyberpunk Condor – An Exercise In Tension’, where this kind of approach started. In it I found evidence of the value in working with your hands and also with constraint/s. And it reinforced my belief in the power of genuine curiosity and of fusing varied methods to find the solution/s you are after.

Both are raw and imperfect human work. Filled with error and imperfection. I played with techniques like this all year and varied completed pieces became part of a series of experiments in fine art, typography, design and poetic inquiry titled, ‘done x illusion’. Most of the art pieces either sparked or were born from writing on technology and humanity. The quote above from Anais Nin on a future ‘illusion that will cheat us” was her warning on technology. She wrote it fifty-plus years ago. And I have used the line and the associated concern as a discussion start point in higher education courses (both at an undergraduate and Masters level) focussed on technology and it’s impact on humanity. Nin’s line ends with, “… of being in touch deeply with the people breathing right next to us”. I often add to it, “or those that should be”.

One of the interesting things I have found over years of discussing things like this with students and academics is if you provide a safe space for people to truly explore they will eventually walk past an unfiltered and often brutal mirror clearly reflecting their true relationship with technology.

I guide their discussions but do not impose my views onto them. I simply offer up a series of propositions we can investigate together. I let them talk. Find their voice. Find their way. And what I witness time and time again is people realizing what is truly important. The art piece here is also an example of that. At the time I was learning how to use amazing and complex imagery and graphic design software – Indesign and Photoshop and Illustrator – and yet here I was – on my knees covered in charcoal and dirt. Seemingly seeking a way to express myself without any technology at all. Further, my job has me always talking. Leading discussion. But here I was free to finally shut up and let my hands find the way.


done x illusion

Image Size

Triptych • 3 Panels • Each 420mm x 297mm (A3 Landscape).

Image Details

Mixed Media: manipulated 100GSM paper • pencil • graphite • jointers tape • fine-liners • charcoal

Publication Date

26⎮ 11 ⎮ 2020