Bio

I am an artist and writer based in Edinburgh. Although I work in a wide range of media, the core of my practice is always founded in text and is often developed through periods of extensive research. My current work focuses on the emotive relationship between performer and audience, and how this relationship has become increasingly mediated through technology. I am interested in the incongruities that arise when traditional processes of creative expression clash with the logic of the digital age.

Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow (2021)

The life and work of French singer Édith Piaf (1915-1963) has formed the basis of a large majority of my recent artistic output. ‘Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow’ is a sustained look at the sacrifices she repeatedly made for the sake of performance, vividly illustrating biographical material beside ideas of automation and mortality.

A scan of a two-page spread showing a painting of a bird and some text. The full text can be found in the pdf at the top of the page. expand
Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow (2021), 36-page booklet printed on uncoated paper and card, 13 x 20 cm. Pages 8 & 9.

The work takes the form of a 36-page booklet containing two extended pieces of text. The first is a fictionalised account of Piaf’s doctor, who is watching her sing from the side of the stage at the Paris Olympia in 1962. The other is a tightly structured poetic monologue narrated by Piaf as she is performing on stage during that same evening. The two pieces are closely intertwined yet explore radically different elements of the same event, contrasting the raw physical toll that performance can take with the detached perspective of an isolated audience.

A scan of a two-page spread showing an epigraph and the start of a long poem. The full text can be found in the pdf at the top of the page. expand
Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow (2021), 36-page booklet printed on uncoated paper and card, 13 x 20 cm. Pages 20 & 21.

The rigid poetic meter of Piaf’s monologue is designed to emulate a heightened sense of performance, transposing her tortuous life story into a contained dramatic sequence. The doctor’s account is more leisurely and melancholic in style, allowing for a range of ideas to enter the text and challenge his medical perspective.

The booklet is accessible as a downloadable PDF at the top of this page. Below is a video displaying the booklet as a physical object. If you would like a physical copy, please email me at the address listed above. They will also be available at the Graduate Show running parallel to this online exhibition in the main building of the Edinburgh College of Art.

A booklet being held by a hand. The cover shows a painting of a woman looking at a bird resting on her wrist.
Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow (cover) 2021, 36-page booklet printed on uncoated paper and card, 13 x 20 cm.
Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow (2021), video preview.
'Bird Song' (2021), two channel sound installation, 2 minutes 38 seconds.

As an installation orientated sound work designed to accompany my writing, ‘Bird Song’ focuses explicitly on the mechanisation of performance. I was interested in folk songs as means of expression, and began writing lyrics using generic imagery that investigated the form.

As anonymous, immaterial compositions that travel through communities, folk songs mutate as they respond to new surroundings in a process of adaption analogous to digital files. Traditionally, folk songs are passed from singer to listener in a symbiotic practice of performance. I wanted to explore how a digital audience may respond to this technique of performative transmission, broaching the complex and divisive realm of ‘machine learning’.

Still Life (2021)

In a similar vein, the series of visual works entitled ‘Still Life’ reflects on the role of the audience in art and the valuation of artworks in an age of endless reproduction. The recurring pattern is an appropriation of the EURion constellation, a visual code often found on banknotes that instructs a computer not to allow digital reproduction of an image.

Practically this code was implemented to combat fraud, yet in many instances it is disguised as decorative and embedded into the design of a banknote. For example, the variation found on Australian $5 notes is arranged in the shape of a flower.

This led me to question the relationship between aesthetics and value in contemporary art, and the role in which an audience, cognitive or computerised, plays in deciding this. With the rise of NFTs, what can now be classified as an ‘artwork’ in the digital age: an object of beauty and insight, or a token of exclusivity and enforced scarcity?

A cropped 5 dollar Australian banknote. Part of the design has been scratched off to highlight a flower resting in a vase. expand
Still Life (2021), altered banknote/digital image, 65x 66 mm/291 KB.
Square black painting with a thin branch carved into the surface. Many small circles are also visible on the surface of the painting, although they are not as definitively carved. expand
Still Life [in low light] (2021), oil and varnish on laser- and hand-carved plywood, 60 x 60 x 1 cm.
Square black painting with a thin branch carved into the surface. Many small circles are also visible on the surface of the painting, although they are not as definitively carved. expand
Still Life (2021), oil and varnish on laser- and hand-carved plywood, 60 x 60 x 1 cm.
Close up photograph of a black painting, with about 15 neat circles and 3 lines carved into the wood.
Still Life [detail] (2021), oil and varnish on laser- and hand-carved plywood, 60 x 60 x 1 cm.

Thank you endlessly to Gemma Smith (Alliyah Enyo) who provided the vocals for ‘Bird Song’, and whose work is featured elsewhere on this website.

I would also like to thank Murid L. Keshtmand from Peanut Press, who is very kindly helping me to print a short run of ‘Their Eyes Are On The Sparrow’. Copies will be available at the physical degree show and through email requests using the address listed at the top of this page.

Thank you finally to Torsten, Keith and Susan, and to everyone who has read the work in its various stages and offered invaluable advice, including (but not limited to) Olivia, Ognjen, Maria, Miriam, Hannah and Maxime.