MICHEÁL O'CONNELL / MOCKSIM
In the past I designed and directed scenarios involving performers, often a professional clown. Appropriated objects, photographic tools, digital recording and display machineries were incorporated into orchestrated routines. The work I do now was influenced by that period but one project, culminating in 2010, marked a change in direction. The activity involved appropriating images from municipal council car parking contravention systems. Since then I have carried out many similar exercises: instead of inventing routines, everyday mechanisms are interrogated directly. At first the aim was to find contemporary readymades, ostensibly mundane data and digital imagery, but the methods themselves became interesting to share. I present selected found data, images and effects, through exhibition, live events and online. I also provide documentation and instructive material. Thirdly, elements from these investigations may be included in short looping experimental films or 'simupoems' which have been a consistent feature of my practice.

As well as displaying images taken by traffic wardens – a project entitled Contra-Invention – I discovered it was easy to access courier company Point of Delivery signatures (Missing You). Later I began using supermarket self-checkout machines, but to buy nothing (Less). More recently I have sent money flowing unnecessarily around bank accounts, used a mobile handset as speed camera and created symphonies through simultaneous use of sat-nav and maps-app voices while driving between destinations.

My work has been shown in project spaces and established locations, such as the Whitechapel in London and Lighthouse, Brighton in the UK and Wandesford Quay Gallery in Cork, Ireland. I ran a blended reality event using Second Life and curated guerrilla fringe activities at the Venice Biennale. Increasingly I simply screen and share materials online, on specified dates, to a limited audience. Contra-Invention had been invited to Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d'Arles 2011, was subsequently nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 and part of From Here On at Arts Santa Mónica, Barcelona in 2013. Thanks to Arts Council England and other funding sources, the show also toured Britain and Ireland in 2012/13. The original catalogue was included in Martin Parr's Best Book List in 2010 and for a time I became a member of the international ABC Artists' Books Cooperative, which advocates the use of Print on Demand and queries the status of publishing. Missing You was exhibited in Macclesfield, supported again by Arts Council England, in 2014. A public event was run to coincide with the show, at the famous Silk Heritage Centre, where photography artists Rut Blees Luxemburg, Mishka Henner and I debated under the title From Jacquard to JPEG. In 2014 also the simupoem Delivering was screened in Birmingham as part of Turtle Salon, initiated by producer and director Michael Shamberg, and along with another work Recay, is formally part of that collection.

Since completing a practice-based PhD in 2017 I have concentrated on producing and disseminating again. Recently I was joint winner of The London Group’s President’s Prize and have been elected as a member, I streamed work as part of Failure in Chrome Digital Artist Residency, and contributed to events at The Bomb Factory venue and during Chinese New Year in London.

CV/Portfolio download: Summary Portfolio CV

Here's my PhD: Art as Artificial Stupidity