Gerald O'Connell
Artist & Musician


[music: 'After the Rain' by Gerald O'Connell]

"When I was at school Art and Music were unimportant subjects for me. The musical and artistic ideas in my mind were so far removed from the things that I heard and saw in the classroom, that I made no connection between these school subjects and my own creativity. After leaving school and completing university studies in economics and philosophy I taught myself to play guitar and synthesizer, eventually building my own sound studio at home. Then, in 1989, I stopped doing music and started to paint and draw. As an artist I forced myself to work in different media, acquiring a range of traditional techniques - it has been my way of compensating for a lack of formal artistic education. Even now I still visit museums to draw from ancient and classical statues, imitating the learning processes that were common in Western Europe for many artists from the renaissance until 100 years ago. I do not necessarily recommend such activity to others, but for me it has the valuable benefit of establishing a technical dialogue across the centuries, allowing me to work through the same problems and issues that once confronted many of those artists whose work I admire.

" I acquired my first computer in 1996. I was a latecomer to this technology, but soon started to enjoy using it to develop and express my artistic ideas. Adobe Photoshop rapidly became a standard artistic tool for me and the computer a familiar medium. For some years friends and fellow artists had been urging me to exhibit my work, but I had been unwilling to put any effort into the task of self-advertisement. I realised that the computer offered a means of exhibiting my work in a highly effective way, and, accordingly, I started to learn HTML in order to create my own online exhibition. The Kurai Hoshi Gallery was launched at Easter 1997 and has been exhibiting my work ever since then at http://www.gacoc.demon.co.uk/

"I believe that, eventually, there will be no significant distinction at all between digital art and art of any other kind. There had been painting for thousands of years before artists started to use oil paint. Now, hundreds of years later, it is one amongst many media accepted for use in painting. Digital media will be absorbed in the same way. I regularly use the computer as a kind of sketchbook in order to set up and do the preparatory compositional work for portraits that are actually done with technical pens in acrylic ink. The digital aspect of the process is concealed from the viewer, and buried in the various mediating layers of work between my original photographs and the final, manual work. This absorption of digital processes into the artisic toolset is, I believe, the healthiest and most natural way for a powerful new medium or tool to be treated: its justification can only come through consideration of the value and integrity of the final output, the finished work.

"After creating Kurai Hoshi, my increasing use of both digital media and the Internet led me to consider making sequences of images and backgrounds, and using HTML to control the presentation of them. Here was a way of achieving a number of things simultaneously:
- gaining more control for the artist over the (hitherto) peripheral issues of framing, background etc.;
- taking control of the issues of context and inter-relationship by determining the order in which pieces of work could be viewed;
- presenting work in a format for computer viewing that would automatically be accessible via the Internet;
- contributing to the collective process of developing new art forms that would be appropriate in a networked context.
My first completed work in this new field was 'Filonovia', dedicated to the Russian artist Pavel Filonov. In addition to subsequently being made available in an online version, it was first presented on June 14 1998 at the Trans Hudson Gallery in New York.

To view the Trans Hudson version of Filonovia, please click here.
{please note: Filonovia is fully automated. To return here, please just close the new window it will open in}

"After the completion of Filonovia I commenced a more ambitious project, Tokyo Story, incorporating background sound and greatly extending the range of effects used. Tokyo Story is a non-linear WebArt narrative completed in July 1998 and first shown at the R2001 group exhibition 'Country Without Borders' at the Abraham Lubelski Gallery, New York, on September 12, 1998. Since that premiere, the work has grown considerably, doubling in length for subsequent showings in Tokyo. These have developed into 'performances', incorporating interpretive dance in specially created environments. I now regard the work as open-ended, expecting it to evolve as a psychological map of a city, changing and growing organically. In order to create the soundtrack for Tokyo Story, I used the basic sound-editing tools that are built into recent Windows releases, applying them to a range of musical and non-musical sound samples and fragments downloaded from the Internet. This experience re-awakened my interest in music, and I acquired a range of more sophisticated sound-processing applications. I currently find Soundforge to be the most useful, perhaps because it is intuitively closest to the analogue studio that I dismantled more than ten years ago. Digitisation has enabled me to realise musical ideas that I abandoned along with that original studio. The music accompanying this presentation is an excerpt from a 57 minute long continuous piece completed in April 2001.


"I cannot predict what direction my work will take in future. At the moment I am interested in looking at various ways to combine sound and visual sources, but there is a tension between this and more traditional forms of painting and drawing. Part of my dilemma relates to the extraordinary speed at which digital technology is progressing: I am tempted to wait until more advanced applications and user interfaces become available, spending time working as an artist and musician/composer rather than stopping to take on board more computer and programming skills. One solution might be to find a collaborator with the appropriate Information Technology skills who would welcome the opportunity to work with somebody who has an untapped excess of creative ideas. Whatever course events take, I will proceed intuitively, seeking to avoid the dictates of current fashion, and endeavouring to produce work of timeless interest and value. There are no rules for real innovation, and innovation itself is an empty goal. Far better to produce something worthwhile than something that is merely new."

Gerald O'Connell
15 St. Mary Road
London
E17 9RG
United Kingdom
tel: +44 208 520 7276
Email
Kurai Hoshi Gallery: http://www.gacoc.demon.co.uk/