Early Digital works
By 1985 as I was being drawn to looking beyond the photographic print and began to experiment with electronic imagery. My first experience of computer generated drawings was in 1976 while at art school. We were taken to the Computer Science Department and introduced to a main frame computer which was the biggest piece of technology I had ever seen. Using the old punch card system we plotted our attempts at drawing a rectangle and the impossible, for me anyway, the circle.
I attended an arts education conference in Cheltenham in the early 1980’s where the use of computer systems in the art room was under discussion. I saw a very crude attempt of drawing and immediately made the connection between that image and the first known photographic print by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. We were at the beginning of a revolution bigger than the Industrial Revelation.
I always wanted to be at the beginning of something big like the invention of photography and later the intervention of the moving image and here we were at the steps of something that we didn’t really know how big or what is was.
I enrolled on a night course in computer graphics on an old apple IIe and began this long journey into Cyberspace. In those days there was no scanners other than a roller scan, no digital cameras and no image based printers. You could hook up a video camera and get a low res image. All this pointed to experimenting with digital and electronic imaging, invariably just ending up on the screen.
I was still using a darkroom but as an aid to creating the images outside of the camera and only then photographing the screen on neg or transparency to be printed conventionally. Early works included Iconoclast and The Journey Of The Skin Man. In 1991 at The Museum Of Photography and Film in Bradford, there was a conference on the future of photography in a digital age. My work was used as an illustration to what could be the future. Later works became video and digital animation. I then began to work with sound using samplers and synthesisers.
At that time computers were having a big impact on the printed media and a new generation of artists and designers were emerging. Desk Top Publishing had a dramatic change on a world not really ready for it.
Then came digital photography which put a generation of photographers into a spin. There was a lot of worried creatives across the board who were very fearful of the future.
The next big digital revolution was the Internet. I had been working for a few years in interactive multi media scripting in Hyper Media. In the early days the new Macs came with a free piece of software called HyperCard. It was a forerunner of what was to become the biggest change in how we interacted and accessed information.
It was a natural progression for me to work online. In 1992 I was heavily involved in a very successful independent film and video festival in Leamington Spa. That led to me thinking about maybe the next one I could do - it would all be online. I was a founding director of two internet companies, one of which was moviefeast.com, later to rebranded as 4cine.co.uk.
We created the first film website to which had ran shorts, interviews and hosted archive material for archive film companies. We were invited to Los Angeles in 2000 for the first (and I believe the only Yahoo Online Film Festival) - except nothing was online but there was a lot discussion. After succeeding in getting venture capital to really change the internet, it failed to materialise just prior to 9/11. I closed the website down by 2003/4. Being in the vanguard of change means you can be too early to benefit. We met and spoke to many in the computer industry who were just beginning to get a grip on the internet. They just looked at us in disbelieve, who would want to download movies and music over the internet. Speeds at that time were 14k and 56k modems. DSL was being talked about but not universally available. We knew it was coming and even faster speeds would one day be the norm. And as they say the rest is history. By 2005 I went back to print based media.