Peter McIlwain’s work in this exhibition features hand drawn images of birds with textures generated by software (coded by the artist). The style references Aboriginal xray art and puts that in the context of digital and industrial textures. This is typical of the artist’s life-long concern to find the “ghost in the machine” by combining the possibilities of computers with the direct expression of the body.
Residents Gallery, August 21 - September 15
Meet the artist: Every Sunday throughout the exhibition from 1pm-4pm
After 30 years devoted to composing and teaching music, I have returned to image making which I studied after leaving school. Over the last 2 years, I have produced a collection of images that show a strange mix of a novice’s rawness and energy combined with developed artistic sensibilities that are part of my music making. As the images evolved I noticed that my concerns for musical transformation, rhythm and form guided the way I went about making images. It was exciting to apply my skills in a new way. My work in computer music has involved a great deal of code writing that while powerful and interesting, is several steps removed from the final artistic result. The scope for direct physical expression was limited whereas the visual work I’ve been doing connected back to my body. Although our industrialised culture has (wrongly) lead us to think and behave like machines, at a fundamental level we think with our bodies. I rediscovered that my muscles know stuff and they were overjoyed that I started listening to them once more. I hope some of this joy rubs off on you.
My working process is to just make whatever comes to hand without thinking about goals or themes (unless these emerge while working). Two elements of the work that have recurred are the figures of birds (who make some of the best music on our planet) and xray representation. So I have collected these works together for the exhibition. They feature hand drawn images with textures generated by software that I have coded. The software creates montaged textures from a source image and I’ve been interested in discovering how the software brings out rhythm in pictures of factories and cities. This rhythm comes out in the drawing as a kind of cross hatching. The use of x-ray art that is found in many non-western cultures reflects my concern for finding the “ghost in the machine” when working with computers by finding ways to combine the power of software and coding with direct physical expression.
For more information please see the artist’s website here