Fine Art BA

Media, where anything goes.


Long time since I posted…

Firstly, thanks to Degrees Unedited, a-n mag and Richard Taylor for rewarding my blogging efforts with a runners-up prize in the bloggers awards – I was surprised but very happy when the box of goodies turned up at my local post office a few weeks ago (probably more like six weeks). I had been unable to collect the delivery at home as I was otherwise engaged – after a month of preparing for assessment (and still not really knowing what I would show) I woke on the morning of the 20th of May to the sounds of my wife going into labour – sparing any further detail I now have a six week old son and a BA (Hons) Fine Art from Bath Spa.

I had been scoring firsts all the way through the course, but somehow knew I had fallen short of the marking criteria at the very end. No matter, as any artist knows, it’s not the grade you get in your degree that matters most; it’s what you do next.

So to my ‘next’…

Aside from changing nappies, waking up at all kinds of unheard of hours, and trying to convince myself that my part-time van-driving job is only for as long as needs must, my intentions are to continue to work as an artist, but to place more emphasis now on writing. So I will be moving over to artists talking, where I will blog about shows and sustaining a practice in a post-degree world while sharing in the responsibility for another human life and trying to write legibly on five hours of broken sleep.

I have shows coming up in Bristol – with The Diving School and Paper Studios, as well as a part in Meanwhile ptII, an offsite show curated by the Hansard Gallery in Southampton. My tutor told me I could apply for mitigating circumstances, what with the baby, and resubmit later in the summer and go for the first that I missed by 2.5%, but is there really any need?

With these shows, plus a writing job for a new magazine (Bristol-based ‘Paper’ – 1st issue Sept 2012), membership of Madescapes, a collective of recent graduates currently showing in the Bristol area and London, and the confidence in my own work that built towards the end of the year, I think I’ve got enough out of my degree. In fact, I’ve got more than I could have hoped for out of the university experience – I know I’d have squandered it, had I gone ten years ago – and the future looks promising, so watch this space!

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#alwayson is a series of text pieces by Trevor H Smith, this being the third.

“I’m not documenting my life, I’m documenting a life.”

“A good portion of people within Western culture at least, would still firmly identify with statements such as ‘I am who I am’, ‘I was born the way I am’, or that there is a ‘real me’…So ingrained in us are the fundamental assumptions of personhood that to challenge them often seems threatening or insulting”[1]

As long as it looks like I’m trying to find myself, through methods of performance and construction, then I am the embodiment of authenticity.

I tried private introspection and found nothing. I find my truth in conspicuous introspection: in public forums where I can speculate wildly, and allow my readers to tell me which of my generalisations applies to me.

This is not about my impression of life, or how it should be lived, it’s about how I want others to react to what appears to be my life. I’m in a room with everyone I know, and everyone is talking, but the only voice that matters is mine. Online I present myself with honour and integrity; I stand up for the beliefs I ought to stand up for; I advocate the moral code that we all want to adopt.

“Rather than portraying a decentred, fragmented, disembodied self, personal homepages are actually attempts at identity integration by demonstrating to others what is important to the individual”[2]

“For those enticed and seduced by the new individualism, the danger of self-reinvention is a form of change so rapid and so complete that identity becomes disposable. Instead of finding ourselves, we lose ourselves.”[3]

If he takes a wrong turn he can delete himself and start again; try something different. He has infinite lives here; and can start afresh from an infinite number of saved locations.

“I hover overhead, looking over my own shoulder, watching my life in real-time. Processing my experience as I live it, I filter out all but the very best moments. I mine the essence of my selfhood, and present a working playlist of nothing but hits.”

He knows that when his images enter reality, they take on their own meaning, and in themselves become reality.

I needed to up my game. My friends were beginning to look better – more real – than I did. I realised I was no longer in competition with them, but that I was now competing with their image.


[1] Vincent Miller, Understanding Digital Culture, Sage, 2011, p160

[2] Vincent Miller, Understanding Digital Culture, Sage, 2011, p166

[3] Anthony Elliott, Concepts of the Self, Polity, 2008, p160


#alwayson is a series of text pieces by Trevor H Smith, this being the second.

“forget where you are, life is about where you were.”

“just as we impart meaning to events by telling them to ourselves and to others, so we are constantly imparting cohesiveness and coherence to our lives by enacting a life story in our actions. Seen from this standpoint, we are not just tellers of a story, nor are we something told. We are a telling.”[1]

This is as close as she gets to her idea of heaven.

She feels more real, more truthful, more conscious.

She feels sociable to the point of gregariousness.

She feels authentic.

“Snap a photo with your iPhone, then choose a filter to transform the look and feel of the shot into a memory”[2]

With the ‘Shortcut to nostalgia’ filter, users can take a photograph and immediately reminisce about how great it was when they took the photograph.

She is better looking here; everyone is. Why would anyone take a photograph of themselves that showed anything but their best side? She is still young, but she feels younger in these photographs than she has ever felt, she looks younger and more attractive than she does in the last of those analogue photographs that were taken a decade ago.

Everything is filtered.

Back then, you jumped when the needle skipped the groove or the tape deck chewed your cassette, now we’re falling over ourselves to download the latest filter that replicates the failures of an outdated technology. Reality is no longer grey; it is filtered; over-saturated, and everything seems so much more real now.

She would never dream of publishing an image before filtering; filters help capture the mood of the moment in a much easier way than say, waiting for the right light. There’s even a filter called 1977 – the year she was born.

The technological error, formerly denied by the manufacturer, becomes something else, as it finally emerges as part of the established language of popular culture and is commoditised, leading to a glitch-based fashion style which is reproducible, standardised and automated by software.

By absorbing Glitch into its own language, the socio-economic system renders impotent the power of glitch to critique contemporary consumer culture.

“It is no longer a break from a flow within a technology, but instead a form of craft. For many critical artists, it is considered no longer a glitch, but a filter that consists of a preset and/or default: what was once a glitch is now a new commodity.”[3]

Glitches and filters nonetheless continue to redefine our expectations of the digital medium.

She is funnier, more considerate towards her friends, and more helpful than she ever was.

She is a better person.

“While an inner self may be present, it can never be entirely known to the individual, and so, through narrated living, the individual creates, as much as discovers, the self.”

I used to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, that’s not a bad thing though – I was pretending to be the kind of person I aspired to be. But here I really am the person that I always wanted to be; that I knew I was. Here I am a project; a story I’m telling as I write it.

Look at my profile and you will find the real me.

“you can effortlessly share anything. You can customize everything.”[4]

Originality is over-rated. I mostly use found imagery from other people’s pages. Their images sum me up in ways that I never could. My homepage tells visitors, instantly and precisely, exactly who I am.

“It’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.”[5]

Instant nostalgia helps her hurry through the present into the future: where she can share images and revel in how great things were.

The ‘Return to pain’ filter projects the user from the present moment into a future time where they are able to reminisce about the present moment as if it were a cherished memory.

By replicating a malfunction, this filter allows you to prepare today’s experiences for their inevitable transition into memories.

Her memories keep her youthful. If they go then everything is lost.

Her idea of heaven is the memory of being locked in an eternal first kiss.

[1] Charles Guignon, On Being Authentic, Routledge, 2004, p127


[3] Menkman, R ‘The Glitch Moment(um)’, INK, Amsterdam, (2011) p55




#alwayson is a series of short text pieces by Trevor H Smith, this being the first.

“One day I’m going to build my own house, and it will look like a ruined castle.”

“web 2.0″, (has) propelled millions of people around the world to willingly share personal information without any means of controlling who received it or how it will be used.”[1]

“Equally remarkable has been the willingness demonstrated by millions of us to document and reveal our own behaviour and the behaviour of others, in personal photos and video clips posted in blogs and online diaries.”[2]

He grew up during 2.0, and has’ come of age alongside the emergence of web 3.0. To User3bn, the concept of ‘online’ is a thing of the past, from his childhood. Now a man, he is always on; at arm’s reach to a thousand friends, relatives and acquaintances. He is not yet old enough to pre-emptively mourn the passing of 3.0, as it gives way to web 4, 5 and 6.0: a time when search engines react to conversationally structured questions, spoken directly to the web, and when screens are as flexible as newsprint; a time when the web itself is everyone’s 1001st friend. He has considered such technology, but assumes it will happen in a matter of years, rather than decades.

Online IS offline, the two have merged, and while his parent’s generation – a generation that recalls a time when the internet was ‘fast approaching’ – has learned how the great technological leap of their lifetime has improved their daily lives, and they have absorbed it with ease, User3bn’s generation was born into, and consequently absorbed by it.

He uploads photographs from his daily life to his news feed – his friends tell him how to feel about the things he has posted, and he returns the favour later on, when they upload their own daily images. He never edits – everything goes into the album, including shots decapitating the sitter, blurred motion shots, and shots containing more thumb than object of image. Still his friends congregate around them, and the out of focus thumb that covers 70% of the image becomes a thing in itself, and is tagged into a folder celebrating everyone else’s thumbshots. No-one ever rotates their images before or after uploading them, most of us are viewing them on hand-held devices anyway.

He can sum up how he feels in two or three words. ‘Who needs 140 characters when you’ve got the hash-tag’. And he never asks the question ‘why publish this?’ more likely he would ask ‘why not publish this?’

Without apps, certain aspects of self-definition and collective definition of his culture would be impossible. Apps allow him to instantly reproduce, represent and manipulate that culture, narrating all the while with tags and categories. Today his top three clips are; ‘I love mew’ in which a cat appears to say ‘I love you’ to its owner; ‘Brutal but still lolled’ in which a middle-eastern man is flogged in the street for reasons undisclosed in the clip; and, ‘Tulisa sex tape is real’, which is fairly self-descriptive.

[1] Judith O Richards & Benjamin Weil, ‘The New Normal’, iCI, 2008, p9

[2] Judith O Richards & Benjamin Weil, ‘The New Normal’, iCI, 2008, ‘Foreword’, p1