Adrian Wilson Quantel art photography exhibition Blackpool Jan-Feb 2022

Blackpool School of Arts is currently exhibiting Adrian Wilson’s 1980’s Quantel Paintbox manipulated photography, including two pieces from the 1988 Art & Computers show at Cleveland Gallery and a whole display of Quantel artefacts.
This is the first solo exhibition of Adrian’s pioneering digitally manipulated photography.
Adrian Wilson exhibition Blackpool
Adrian Wilson exhibition Blackpool
Adrian will be at the gallery on Thursday 3rd February from 5-8pm for a private view and would love to meet you there in person.
If you can’t make it to Blackpool before the exhibition ends on 18th February, here is a link to a virtual tour.

Adrian Wilson artist & photographer (plus graffiti) – interview December 2021

See also previous Adrian Wilson Artist blog

New questions (from Geoff Davis, Micro Arts Group):

Q: You are well known as a graffiti artist (unsigned, online with the plannedalism tag) adjusting signs by changing or adding letters etc.

For you, is graffiti – (anti) literature, text art or social intervention?

A: My father and two older brothers were graphic designers and I have tried unsuccessfully to avoid graphic design my whole life. A couple of business students from Manchester University interviewed me in 1988 and in their synopsis stated that I had three business disadvantages:

I had no long term goals, was not motivated by money and in fact had refused to work for clients who weren’t anti-apartheid.

My graffiti is text based and definitely has a message. Even if I write a pun on a tree stump “I fought the saw and the saw won” it is to highlight the loss of the tree. Ideally my graffiti inspires people to think but doesn’t tell them what to think.

1987-star-trek-meme
1987 Star Trek meme

Q: Were you inspired by activist street artists like UK’s Banksy, or visual artists like Goldie?

A: I have always expressed myself one way or another from building snow sculptures with my kids, to over 30 years creating t-shirts (my first one in 1987, was a play on the Manchester A to Z street guide, changed to read “A to CRED”!), to the galleries I opened and the graffiti I am well known for, it’s all just been a fun hobby. Some people love kicking a ball, or playing an instrument but my brain is just wired to come up with visual ideas.

Q: Early Quantel – you mentioned, ‘make my ideas a reality with only a small amount of skill’.

Does this apply to the graffiti, and is that connected to fun,  and using early Quantel Paintbox ?

A: Definitely. We all love to ridicule high brow art by stating “I could have done that” but to me, if someone sees a piece of street art I did and thinks “That’s something cool I could have done”, I have done my job well.

I have never taken myself seriously or set out to be referred to as an artist. I come from a northern family where my dad used to say “you’ve got to learn to stand on your own two knees”. That may have been a throw away pun but I always felt that lack of confidence or value in what I did. As the youngest of three males in the house, I was always referred to as “little Adrian” which probably drove me to be someone to do things to get attention, either a joke or something visual.

My Paintbox work was pretty dark but that was just the politics and aesthetics of the time. Anti-Thatcherism, The Young Ones and The Face magazine were my aesthetic, and I probably still relate more to Rik than Vivian in the way I interact with the world. Most of the jokes are for my own entertainment and if other people enjoy them, great and if they don’t, it’s fine too.

Prince RIP Adrian Wilson
Prince RIP Adrian Wilson

Q: How do you feel abut Photography vs painterly arts, on the work / labour / skill level?

A: There is a ranking in the “art world” in what is considered legitimate or superior, with oil painting at the top of the pyramid and photography closer to the base. As a photographer with 35 years’ experience, it is obviously second nature to me now and, thanks to digital, certainly easier than when I went to college.

Andreas Feininger was my biggest influence and he was all about scale and composition. Most of the photographic skills such as a knowledge of chemicals, lens behaviour or film types is about as useful as an A to Z Street Map nowadays. I think it is fantastic that a billion pictures a day are taken and uploaded somewhere because photography has always been about capturing a moment, whereas painting is about conveying an idea.

The biggest skill in photography and one for which it will be a long time before it is automated is a button which creates a good composition and that is really where the skill of a photographer is.

Lighting used to be important but not as much now with HDR, lateral range and photoshop. I have developed painting skills through practice but I can still only replicate something, not come up with new figurative ideas purely from my imagination. I greatly admire those who can paint and sculpt but in the same way I admire those who can sing or score a goal. There is no jealousy, just an appreciation for the different skills they have.

Q: Photography is famously technical, how does that connect for you with new digital outlets like NFTs, crypto art etc.?

A: It used to be technical but I am not sure I am even a photographer any more. Thanks to film and prints, my collection survived for 30 years in my mum’s attic and can still be enjoyed today. If I had stored my images on one of Quantel’s 8 inch floppies it would be unreadable, or the VHS would be fuzzy.

It saddens me to know that all I do now when I take a ‘photo’ is rearrange lots of 0s and 1s on an SD card. There is no definitive standard way it should look, in the way that when I scanned my Quantel slides I could look at a piece of film and try to match it. Of course we have social media and the cloud, so theoretically everything is stored for eternity but yes, because we all now accept something that doesn’t actually exist is a photograph, it is not too far a stretch to take a traditional certificate of authenticity and make a non existent version of that too.

Crypto is no different from touchless transactions such as Apple Pay as a method of digital transaction but the idea it is somehow safer or more democratic, is ridiculous. There is absolutely no link between the numbers and letters making up the blockchain ID to any individual, so if it is hacked, or stolen, or the company hosting your wallet stops paying for hosting fees, or you forget your login details, or there is a solar magnetic storm, you’re screwed. Once you provide ID and bank details to set up a digital wallet, it is linked to the same big banks and government tax department that your regular credit card is. History shows us that once something catches on and starts to make money, big business takes over and governments start regulating. Bitcoin is a digital casino and NFTs are digital tulip bulbs.

Q: Any new plans or ideas?

A: Honestly, like the business analysis said, I don’t plan that far ahead. Thankfully my kids are all grown up and I rent my apartment, so I haven’t got too many responsibilities and my health is good so at 58, I appreciate that fact more than any other.

My next big plan is actually graffiti within the digital world. I have some pieces in NY on roofs which are really only visible on Google Earth and the next plan is to use the lines of the crosswalks to create words and phrases that can only be read on Google Maps.

Taking it a step further, I have found a glitch in the system which enables me to change certain details of Google Maps, so I have  few ideas up my sleeve. The old graffiti writers referred to painting the subway trains as ‘bomb the system’ and to me the oppressive ‘system’ now is not the city’s bureaucrats, it is the companies who control the digiverse and will be creating the metaverse. It will also be much cheaper than buying paint!

Q: How is NY after UK/London. An artist friend went to NY in 1996 and became a successful  designer. He said it was safer/better than London. Any comments?

A: I stayed in Manchester rather than move to London to further my career and do love New York but it is just a bigger, expensive version of everywhere else. There are people who are successful because they are talented, or good looking, or well connected, or were at the right place at the right time. That is the same in Manchester or Manhattan. It is an honest city because it is just like the movies show it is – a giant money making machine full of people who didn’t fit in somewhere else, trying to survive in a place lacking in compassion for the individual. The good thing moving to NY is that one is expected to fail, so there is no shame in going back home after it has no further use for you. If you feel you want the challenge, try it but if you don’t, just visit for a holiday.

I can also lie in some Manchester nursing home  bed and tell some nurse spoon feeding me rice pudding that “I once was famous for changing the names of the streets in the metaverse of New York” and she would pat me on the head, give me a sedative and say “Of course you did Mr Wilson”, then look on the metaverse and find it was true. Getting a twofer of free drugs and annoying a smart ass teenager is a near death goal of mine.

Q: Previously you mentioned NFTs of old work (could also be for new). Have you made any progress with this?

A: I sprayed “POST NO NFTS” , a twist on POST NO BILLS for fun and made an NFT of that. I also made an NFT of me deleting the video of the NFT the people made by burning a Banksy and another NFT of my friend the art critic Jerry Saltz, so you can see the angle I am taking. My next one will be a Schrödinger’s NFT, whereby I will either burn or frame a MAGA poster that someone gave me from Trump’s election night party in 2016.

Despite the flippancy and supposed dismissiveness, I do feel some gratitude to the concept of NFT’s because without the hype, my Paintbox work would still be in my mum’s attic and I wouldn’t be the very proud and excited owner of a working Paintbox.

I met with one of the creators of cryptopunks and told him that I felt like he was like Mick Jagger, making a fortune commercializing and popularizing the work of unappreciated blues guitarists, with the side effect being that those guitarists become appreciated for being the originators. I feel that the NFT craze has been fantastic for the light it has also shone on the history of digital art, of which we should be proud to have played a part.

I have had approaches to sell my Paintbox work as NFT’s but I haven’t found the right people yet. Ultimately, NFTs are like any other piece of art, they only have value if someone notable says why they are valuable. We are told that the Mona Lisa is the best piece of art in the world, so it is. Yet, we all know the shenanigans, hype and ultimately embarrassment of paying $450 million for the now discredited Salvator Mundi in the belief that it was a newly discovered Leonardo. Apparently the Beeple NFT that sold for $69 million has dropped in value by 75% but the person who bought it made a fortune because the purchase was his way of getting publicity for his cryptocurrency, which went up 2,000 percent because of the sale.

In theory, I created one of, if not the first digital meme when I swapped Captain Kirk’s head for mine on the Paintbox in 1987 and sent it out as a postcard with an ironic caption. With the right hype and people behind it, in theory, it could be worth millions. It’s just a funny postcard but once someone important realizes its place in history, it will become a valuable funny postcard.

I have been invited to put on a solo show at Blackpool School of Art’s art gallery from January 10th to February 18th 2022. To to me, that is the best full circle this story could have taken. I plan to take a Paintbox to the college to show the students what the Quantel people showed me 35 years ago. How cool is that?

Adrian Wilson November 2021

See also previous Adrian Wilson Artist blog

See (new page) NY.com article and interview about the graffiti – plandalism 

Home for the brave – Metaverse, VR, VRML, X3D

There is an increase in VR art galleries, and online exhibitions, over lockdown. In the Metaverse, Omniverse, see below.

Here’s my VR gallery (with coder Christian) from my design and build web studio Twin Media (London) back in 1995. VRML was a web based 3D renderer with a simple mark-up language, superseded by X3D.

VRML gallery Metaverse 1995
VRML VR gallery [Metaverse] 1995 – Twin Media logo is the green squiggle
VRML gallery Metaverse 1995
VRML VR gallery [Metaverse] 1995
The new 3D cube videos from Micro Arts MA1 will be located in one of these, I will update when selected.

Search for Metaverse, Cryptovoxels, etc. Second Life is still around. These sites have always had usability issues and are just a bit clunky. There are lots of 3D world-building games such as Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox, and of course Sim City. Nvidia has an Omniverse. Facebook are really into this via VR.

See this BBC summary

NEW Cube Collection art now “Abstract Originals” with Music

New 3D video art

We were Featured Artist on Known Origin for first drop.

Many new collectable video NFTs  with a 4K video, low price or low start. Visit now

Micro Arts Group Featured Artist NFTs Known Origin

NFT Cube Triangle 4K video
NFT Cube Triangle 4K video
MA1 Cube: Data video art NFT Known Origin
MA1 Cube: Data video art NFT Known Origin

New video and images will be released up to January 2022. We are releasing 8 in the MA1 series (1 and 2 are out)  also from MA2, MA3, MA4, Quantel, print, etc as NFTs and Metaverse VR displays. Plus experiments and all-new work.

Known Origin Featured Artist –  NFTs – visit Micro Arts Group

Geoff Davis Patryk Jaworski
Geoff Davis Patryk Jaworski – electric trousers!

 

This is MA1: 4 Diagonals

I am making new 3D art with Patryk Jaworsky (we met at the recent Leicester exhibition) from the MA1 series, followed by more from MA2, MA3, MA4, Michel’s Quantel art from 1984 and more. There will be a 3D catalogue of all the new work released next week, along with all 7 finals of MA1 pieces, plus a complete ‘all 7’ MA1, as per the original data cassette release. The music is from Etalon Production, Patryk’s AV company.

There are many more demos in the Micro Arts Group YouTube channel.

We are planning an exhibition for this year if possible. We need 7 large monitors though so it is quite expensive to set up.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2021. Music and 3D video by Patryk Jaworski. Original art and new concept from Geoff Davis.

 

Music performance with Etalon Production (Patryk Jaworski) Micro Arts setting

I met Patryk at the recent 8-bit exhibition in Leicester. He is a prolific recordist in live settings such as parks or old buildings. He suggested doing a concert in the Lightbox gallery space at LCB Depot. The excellent result is below.

Etalon Production – Air, Pressure and Tension | Less Solid Dialect (vol.4) 2021 | PATRYK JAWORSKI

 

 

See also ETALON PRODUCTION

8-bit exhibition Leicester 9 June 2021

8-bit exhibition

Classic computer art from the 1980s

The Micro Arts exhibition opens on Wednesday 9 June, from 6pm. There will be short talks by Sean Clark the curator and me.

Location: LCB Depot – Lightbox Gallery

31 Rutland Street

LE1 1RE

Poster
Posters
Geoff Davis during the set up (photo Sean Clark)
Geoff Davis during the set up (photo Sean Clark)
Micro Arts 8-Bit Exhibition Leicester June 2021
Getting ready for Micro Arts 8-Bit Exhibition Leicester June 2021 (empty boxes will have data cassettes, magazine, etc in them)

NEWS- Micro Arts Exhibition

There is an exhibition in November 2020 to launch the Computer Arts Archive, which features Micro Arts. POSTPONED to summer 2021.

INSTEAD, VISIT NEW SITE NOW – Computer Arts Archive (special group of British Computer Society)

Micro Arts Group Geoff Davis MA2 Various Unusual Events The Piano Bar red generative computer art
Micro Arts Group Geoff Davis MA2 Various Unusual Events The Piano Bar red generative computer art

 

 

 

Talk

Geoff Davis talking about Micro Arts, his 1980s computer art group

Computer Arts Society, 9/6/2020

Video to be posted here soon.

geoffdavis5  gmail  com

or use Contact on the this site.

Micro Arts – produced a range of computer art for popular micros, and a paper magazine. Programmed, curated by Geoff, with contributions from friends, male, female, UK, US, France.

Aim was to start a new computer arts group, educate and perhaps sell a few art data cassettes. Later it all went onto Prestel national teletext.

Modelled on art groups London Video Arts and London Film-Makers Co-op; and indie record labels. This was my social background at the time.

Was intended to be a community, inclusive, diverse, populist, grass roots political. No ‘authority’. Not academic, I left University in 1980 and wasn’t thinking of it. No CAS at the time.

Was well reviewed by mainstream computer press, see Reviews.

No internet so hard to market.

Many outputs:

  • algorithmic art and animations, MA1 by Geoff Davis and MA3 by Martin Rootes)
  • conceptual (long form 2 years, math/code art, Dada word generator etc.), MA2 by Geoff Davis
  • graphic feminist/political animations, Money Work System from SCUM Manifesto, MA2
  • text generation from a story about the 1980s epidemic of prion mad cow disease BSE, MA4 by Geoff Davis (exhibited at LFMC show, and later distributed on Prestel teletext).

I had a few stories published, this is one of my competing activities. See my section in People.

The print Magazine was free. Full of informative articles, not reviews. (Magazine is on this site.)

Prestel was on invitation from EMAP but that took some of the momentum out of it, then I started working commercially again.  See Prestel page.

Also got involved in so-called ‘pirate TV’ NetWork 21. (No pirates, but lots of art, fashion.)

For more from the various contributors see People page.

CAS was not around at this point. Only contact I had was Harold Cohen (art machines) by letter in US,  who was famously uninterested in ‘computer art’ as a scene. He told me all art was about marketing. He was in academia, which operates as a huge marketing funnel (as well as providing work for artists).

Personal history

Before Micro Arts I was working in commercial COBOL programming (using pencils) on a Univac 1100 mainframe, and also Vax minis.

After Micro Arts, networking (at Prudential, first use of networked ‘personal computers’ IBM PC ATs in dealing room, no-one there had experience of micros, it was large IBM mainframe site).

Later, worked in new computer graphics lab at Sheffield Hallam University, Psalter Lane art college (12 x Unix Apollo workstations,  2D and 3D modelling and animation, CGAL (Peter Comninos) etc.).

Later still, London Institute teaching, then web industry, apps.

Now computers and text researcher at UAL CCI, Camberwell art college. Still in early stages.

1980s

Huge change in tech from 1980 (mainframes, coding with pencils) to 1990 (workstations). Micros appeared and improved over decade.

Warhol used Amiga, etc. – computers becoming unavoidable in art, design, music, film, smaller businesses.

Early artists moved into commercial work.

What is use now?

Archive, historical.

Educational examples – what can be done with relatively simple computers – hands on – Raspberry Pi

Artworks and merchandise on sale here soon  – archival prints, reprint of Magazine, MA1, MA2, MA3, MA4 Data Cassettes, Magazine 2, previously unpublished.

 

 

Research at UAL Creative Computing Institute CCI Camberwell and other news

I’m now a researcher at University of the Arts London, Creative Computing Institute at Camberwell Art College. I’ll let you know more as this develops. Topic is AI and text generation, with various outputs. This follows my 1985 text generation program Cow Boils Head, and the work in my Middlesex Uni MA on zooming and multi-layered texts, Calm As A Dead Clam.

Calm As A Dead Clam Geoff Davis 2003
Calm As A Dead Clam Geoff Davis 2003

See here (on author site) for more on the MA interface design.

I also have a new site for my general writing and art under the name Geoff Davis Org

I’ve been published on and off (mainly off) since the 1980s, everything was in print but new editions will be published in ebook format by Story Software this year and next.

More to follow…
Geoff Davis