House of Abstract

Kiroku - Digital Painting 2022

This article was read out at the launch of the @HouseofAbstract metaverse exhibition.
Friday 16th November 2022

AltJames at HouseofAbstract metaverse exhibition

Apologies for not being able to be there - and thanks to whoever is reading this on my behalf. I’m overwhelmed to be selected as part of the show

It’s an amazing initiative and thanks to everyone who has built it. 

You’re all brilliant.

/ / /

I love paintings. I’ve always painted.

But painting is not the full story. 

I’m very much a left brain AND a right brain person. Equally logical and creative. 

After studying Fine Art and Art History in London - I decided I really didn’t want to paint any more – I became a designer. 

I loved typography and print. I made websites and messed with code.

As far away from ‘paint’ as I thought I could get. 

But over the years painting kept calling and wouldn’t go away. 

I kept returning to it.

Something about it didn’t make sense though. I had this nagging disjointed feeling.

Using paint and conventional materials didn’t seem quite enough.

/ / /

Around 2016 I had an epiphany. 

I’d had an ipad for a few years – but I started using it as a drawing tool.

I was drawing direct from life – direct to digital.

This was it - it was tech AND art. Two of my favourite things - apart from wine!

Making marks on a surface with direct results - as opposed to using a mouse - which makes disconnected marks. That direct feedback was essential and I’d been missing it in my digital world. 

I made a clear decision not to use paint any more and to make purely digital Fine Art. 

It was deliberate and liberating. 

Everything suddenly made sense. 

And the work poured out me. 

/ / /

In 2020 I was designing stuff for a Swiss Bank. The words ‘blockchain’ and ‘fintech’ were being bandied about - I got it - but didn’t see how it applied to me. I wasn’t into banking.

Then I discovered NFTs

This was a second epiphany. 

Purely digital art being bought and sold digitally. 

No need for printing it and getting it on a gallery wall - just to be misunderstood. 

I can now be on-chain and be misunderstood!

/ / /

I’d better talk about the piece in the show.

It’s called ‘Kiroku’. That’s japanese for ‘record’ - as in ‘evidence of the past’.

It’s 16:9 and made for a landscape screen. There’s something about horizontality that I like right now - i think it’s to do with our natural binocular vision. I find the verticality of tablets a bit a weird - i almost always use my ipad horizontally,

Most of my work is based on a visual language that i’ve built over the years. Crosses, circles, swashes, squiggles, layers, frames, boxes and other marks. They came from an abstraction of landscape and a study of linguistics and writing.

It used to be all black and white or a limited tertiary colour range - but i’ve been using a lot of colour since working digitally. 

This year I’ve been going through a collage phase - raiding my own personal digital collection of imagery and combining this with layering, fragments of print, transparency and screening.

Alongside I’ve had an obsession with digital texture and to acknowledge what in real world painting and digital painting both do and don’t do.

This piece represents a slight change in direction. 

In my upcoming works  there’s less texture and even more colour. I can see that starting to happen here. I’m working towards a flatness. Like in screen printing.

Transparency is still there and there’s still complexity but i think i’m actively moving away from what we collectively think an abstract painting might look like.  I try to never rest and it’s important to ask myself ‘ have i seen this before’? 

I want to keep moving and changing. This is a one-off but I always have several things going on at once - I work in groups and series. It’s all a bit manic really and I don’t think I can ever stop or will ever be satisfied. 

And I really don’t want to find thing and just do that.

This work is nearly it - but not quite.

I’ve got a curation side project going on @100XsArt on twitter - i’m inviting all artists to make work based on a consistent theme - we’ll auctioning them for charity. 

And then I’ve got other side projects out there – on-chain – totally different – under a pseudonym – or two. But that's a subject for another day.

Thanks for having my work in the exhibition and thanks for looking and listening and i hope you all have a great show.