When I was about five or six years old I plagued my parents with strange questions. One I remember in-particular was “who would I be if I wasn’t me”? Such riddles are not uncommon at this age because it is around this time that children begin to develop – or construct – a rudimentary form of identity. An embryonic Self that will grow into something resembling a final form during puberty and early adulthood. As we age, the foundations of identity sink into the subconscious, their origins lost, becoming so conflated with the notion of consciousness to the point where we can no longer tell them apart.
We talk of Self as if it is who we “really are”, like some kind of secular Soul, but there is growing evidence that the very notion of our personal identity is a fluid and ever-changing fiction that emerges through the brain’s interaction with society and the environment. A cognitive technology built from the lego blocks of language to tie together past experiences into a cohesive whole and use them as a blueprint for anticipating future events. The ultimate tool of a species of toolmakers.
In March 2012, I attended the second annual Startup Weekend at Google’s European HQ in Dublin. Originally pitching my ideas for evolutionary history explorer Deep Time; I ended up working with the team of Stephen McManus to devise a gamified, team based game to teach entrepreneurship skills; Appace (now called Riptide Academy). Working closely with with Microsoft developer Hrishikesh Ballal, I devised both the game structure and a three minute presentation of the “world” screen; which I drew, designed and animated within 54 hours before presenting to the rest of the attendees on Sunday evening.
This piece was created in collaboration with Irish poet Steve Downes to illustrate his new online collection, Urbania. The idea was to capture the mood of Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”, so I researched some of the early concept art from to movie and found some interesting montage work on which I based this piece.
During the early part of the noughties I was involved with the anti-war movement and created a number of pieces of artwork to express my overall displeasure. One of them “T.W.A.T” – went viral and was eventually featured in numerous publications worldwide, as far afield as New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States. This piece was also featured in the 2004 book “Peace Signs” and was in the political thriller “The Constant Gardener” for about a quarter of a second.