May 22nd – DR CRAIG VENTOR IN AMERICA HAS CREATED AN ARTIFICIAL ORGANISM

Researcher Craig Venter unveiled the self replicating bacteria cell calling it a ‘powerful tool’ for designing biology.

Self replicating bacteria cells

I was appalled when I read this headline. I felt that the criticis who said this was man playing God and a danger to our future existence were absolutely right. It was only after I had finished this sculpture that I realised I had misread the title as ‘artificial orGASM’ rather than the orGANISM it speaks of.

This set of fountains were intended to represent what I felt would be the regimented and soulless love-making humans would experience if they were to use artificial orgasms created by some scientist in a lab. I put them in exactly equally spaced rows, their water ejaculating from the earth in steady, planned and above all, dull streams.

Unfortunately, as mentioned, this is not the actual news story. I have left the fountains in place at Somerset House, London, in the hope that they make a similar statement about the soulless concept of scientists creating human life. Perhaps artificial organisms would also have dull sex lives.


May 21st – LANCE ARMSTRONG ACCUSED OF DRUG USE

Floyd Landis has made allegations of doping in cycling, claiming former team mates used performance-enhancing drugs, including even seven times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Armstrong has strongly denied this.

Performance enhancing drugs

I have depicted Lance Armstrong here as his namesake and, I assume, father, Neil Armstrong. The only difference between them is that for Lance the new world he has conquered is not the moon but rather the highest record of Tour de France winnings.

Also the dangers to him are not a lack of atmosphere and his helmet breaking but rather the suit of his reputation being hit by a rock of random slurs against his honour. Also he is better media trained so probably wouldn’t make the mistake of accidentally saying ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’ rather than ‘one small step for a man’. Though if he were to say either statement about an annually repeated bike riding competition that would probably be a little arrogant.

Also if Neil Armstrong were to hop back into a rocket now he would need a lot of training and it would not be in anyway as easy to pick up again as ‘riding a bicycle’. Also Lance Armstrong has not been accused of faking his win in a studio made to look like France or the moon.

Those are the only differences between father and son.

May 11 – TOYOTA POSTS PROFIT DESPITE MASS VEHICLE RECALL

Toyota has reported a surprise fiscal fourth quarter profit and predicted a surge in net profit this fiscal year. This is despite its major recall of over 8.5m vehicles after problems with defective accelerator pedals.

Toyota stocks performing well

The faulty brakes in Toyota’s cars were a clear metaphor for the near collapse of the world financial system over the last two years. I decided to build a working engine and park it outside the New York stock exchange as a symbol of the complicated machine that is the financial market and its capability to both improve our lives and cause terrible mishaps.

The message is simple; whether dealing with giant stock markets or building a single car, the tiniest fault or poor piece of judgement can lead to horrific consequences. We need to always remain vigilant and cautious in life and never become lazy in our planning or decision making.

Unfortunately my knowledge of mechanics is admittedly very limited. I also never got around to researching proper instructions on building an engine and had hoped I could kind of figure it out as I went along.

Eventually I arrived at this ball of tangled steel pipes that I tied together with string. So far attempts to start a car with it have failed.

May 6th – ELECTION DAY IN THE UK

Britons go to the polls today to choose their new government for 2010. So far the result has been impossible to call with none of the parties winning the hearts or trust of the public.

Mind the gap between politicians and the public

This is a depressing day. The British public has lost all faith in politicians in the last 12 months. I have been working on a moving, kinetic artwork that would sum up the constant disappointment, broken promises and depressing lack of movement that people feel from politics in this day and age.
I decided to construct a series of trains and put them underground, representing the underhanded tactics of many politicians. I also had them going in and out of tunnels, representing the many sexual scandals that often distract us from the more important policy failures.

I then publicised a set timetable with a list of promised arrival and departure times. The art patrons participated wonderfully, making plans and arrangements based on these times. I organised repeated delays, cancellations and break downs to generate a replica of the anger, frustration and despair that watching politics for the last few years has caused me.

I then waited for people to emerge, tired and defeated from these hot, stuffy underground caves and told them they had just taken part in an artwork about politics. On the whole, most people seemed uninterested or feigned a lack of comprehension, very similar to how most people feel about politics. Though two people offered to find me somewhere to sleep for the night which I found incredibly kind, despite being an unnecessary and confusing offer.

5TH May – IS GREECE THE CANARY IN THE COALMINE FOR EU?

The EU and IMF are hammering out a deal to bail out the struggling Greek economy. Europe’s more fiscally prudent countries have been reluctant to lend to the spendthrift Greeks, but analysts warn that failure to act now could destabilise the euro. – The Guardian

ARTWORK: Canary in the four bedroom flat

Several months ago, our flatmate was always falling asleep the moment she sat down. We all would laugh at her hilarious narcolepsy. Then one day I smelt gas coming from our old and poorly-installed boiler.

We had a bad gas leak and had to call the National Gas Emergency Line.

Was it possible that our dear flatmate Katie’s constant, light comas had been her poor, weak body trying to warn us of the danger lurking in our shoddy house? Was her body also trying to warn us, through artful metaphor, of the impending Greek debt crisis, which was to hit just a month later, and itself hint at a poisonous sovereign debt time bomb for the EU as a whole, stemming from the financial crisis of 2008?

It seems likely.

I have made a very simple sculpture in tribute to the months of fatigue that Katie endured to try to help her housemates and Europe. This is an impression of the new boiler our landlord very reluctantly installed that eventually meant we finally had pressure in our shower head and I wasn’t kept awake all night by the boiler clanging when anyone flushed the toilet.

I pray for a similar outcome for the EU economy.

April 17th FLIGHTS STILL CANCELLED DUE TO ICELANDIC VOLCANO ASH CLOUD

Thousands of travellers are facing continuing misery after the suspension of flights in and out of the UK was extended as the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland spread across Europe. Many stranded passengers said the biggest pain came from ‘not knowing’.

Icelandic Ash Cloud

The agony these people were facing, as they wondered how long they would be stranded for, threw me back to a dark period in my life. In early January 2010  my online rental DVDs never arrived in the post. The pain I felt in not knowing what had happened to them was very reminiscent of what I see in this news story.

I made this sculpture out of fibreglass and plaster. I then set it up on a busy London street between King’s Cross and Angel. After a few hours, commuters began to deposit letters in it, not realising it was a piece of art rather than a functioning post box. After three days it was filled with letters. I then burnt the letters whilst reading aloud from old school report cards that were critical of me.

I have called the piece Disappointment.

It’s about the connection that exists between all humanity because we all face disappointment on a near daily basis, whether it be from our flight not taking off, a report card calling us ‘easily distracted’, a Harry Potter DVD not arriving that we weren’t even excited about to begin with or our letter never being posted because it was unknowingly put in a fake post box/art work.