Some selected press:

Milan Machinima Festival

Published 10/06/2022

Matteo BittantiMachinima, landscape painting, first-person shooters, walking simulators, and photogrammetry. Jason Rouse’s new artwork is a triumph of remediation as it incorporates, repurposes, and transforms a variety of media, formats, genres, and aesthetics. It is simultaneously an art history lesson and a meditation on current events delivered via Unity 3D. As the title indicates, this work is about Leon Kossoff (1926-2019), one of the most influential British painters of the XIX century, who was also the son of two Ukrainian refugees fleeing persecution during the 1903-1906 pogrom. Kossoff Flees Ukraine reconstructs that miraculous escape through the forests and mountains of Europe, while updating the narrative to another tragedy, the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia. The outcome is a document about the past that speaks of the contingent moment.Jason Rouse (b. 1985) is an Irish artist living and working in Cardiff, Wales. In Rouse’s work, digital and traditional arts converge, creating unexpected results. Rouse has painted game landscapes, developed interactive games, and experimented with generative spaces. Rouse has been a finalist with Lumen Prize for Digital Art, exhibited at the inaugural Westmorland Landscape Prize and selected for the 2020 BEEP Painting Prize. He has received a Wales Art International grant for SWITCHed, an exchange program between Arcade Cardiff and Galerie RDV, Nantes. His album of solo Irish traditional music on Uilleann Pipes has won critical acclaim from both press and peers.Matteo Bittanti: Can you describe the genesis of Kossoff Flees Ukraine? What kind of creative and technical challenges did you encounter and eventually overcome?Jason Rouse: Much of my work in the past has come from using found data sources–things like topographic information and scanned objects. I have dabbled in 3D scanning and printing a few years back, but I found it quite prohibitive in terms of time, cost, and scale. Luckily, the technology has moved on and we now have this kind of capability in everyday smartphones. I had been playing around with photogrammetry for a project about my native Northern Ireland, but as the idea evolved it took on a wider commentary on conflict in general. This was the genesis for Kossoff Flees Ukraine. I suppose scanning that Kossoff painting was the last piece of the jigsaw to click, and the rest of the work fell into place from there.I’ve been working with Unity for the past ten years or so, but I would say I was far from being an expert. I like to think of myself as an artist and not a programmer at all. Luckily, a platform like Unity is fairly forgiving and very well supported online, but I did hit a number of technical speed bumps along the way. I had major problems creating a final cross-platform build, but this was not so important as I was eventually able work around it with a frame by frame capture directly from Unity.It was certainly a conceptually and technically difficult piece to produce, but I enjoyed watching the project alter and materialise. What started life as an autoethnographic exploration into my own experiences from the border region in Northern Ireland, evolved into different autoethnographic exploration of my experiences in video games.Matteo Bittanti: Both painting and digital media feature prominently in your practice. In many ways, Kossoff Flees Ukraine brings them together in a novel, unique way. Why did you decide to explore Leon Kossoff’s art through a video game engine? Jason Rouse: We’re in a bit of a golden age for contemporary artists embracing emerging technology. The link between traditional art methodology and contemporary techniques has always fascinated me and I think that this is still in its infancy. The relationship between painting and digital art is also developing, and I wanted to create work about it through the medium of a game. Video games bring together so many different disciplines such as visuals, interaction, audio, storytelling and emotion. I love how game art can be such a powerful medium, and we now have the technology to create games that are complex and realistic enough to fool a casual viewer. I often get people mistaking my game work for, say, photographs or film. I find the whole concept of game art so much more exciting than, say, David Hockney producing paintings on his iPad.Matteo Bittanti: Kossoff Flees Ukraine is a textbook case of remediation, in Bolter and Grusin’s definition, which they define — in the simplest possible terms — as the incorporation of a medium in another. You took the scan of one of Kossoff’s London paintings — itself an act of remediation — using photogrammetry and subsequently imported the outcome into a video game development toolkit. Several of your works feature layers upon layers of mediation. What fascinates you about this constant process of translation or adaptation from one context to another? And if the medium is the message, as McLuhan suggests, what would be the ultimate message of Kossoff Flees Ukraine?Jason Rouse: There’s an aspect of detachment and reference in remediation. I enjoy self-imposed limits when creating art, and working from the confinements of a given source allows me to develop ideas around a stricter initial concept. Limiting the toolkit, and indeed, leaving a lot of the process up to chance (in the case of some digital methods) really gives me something to work against. I made a series of sound art ‘sketches’ using an audio detection algorithm with several recordings from my daily commute. The outcome was an algorithmic music score, with notes popping in and out of the melody dictated by the computer. Although not a pleasant listen or even a particularly deep or meaningful piece of art, I’d like to think this is a good example of translation in my work, and perhaps one my purest forms of medium vs message. In the case of Kossoff Flees Ukraine, I’ve chosen the media of a first person shooter, a genre of game typified by the glorification of the foul acts we see shocking the world with the Russian invasion. Turning the physical brushwork of Kossoff into a digital world created a new link between the two media which I found rather surprising. With Kossoff’s Ukrainian refugee heritage, the emotional connotations worked exponentially with all the codifications associated in that genre of game, elevating the experience to something new and invigorating for me.Matteo Bittanti: Crucial to Kossoff Flees Ukraine is a procedurally generated landscape: you used an algorithm to automatically populate the scene with flora and fauna. Based on your personal experience, what role do artificial intelligence and algorithms play in the creation of art today?Jason Rouse: I find the act of removing myself from a lot of the processes and decisions equally liberating and challenging. Working with computers, theres the opportunity to have a number of aspects decided or even randomised, and that informed my decision in using algorithmically generated parts. There’s also the excitement of seeing what the computer will produce for you; the landscape in Kossoff Flees Ukraine is perhaps a few miles across, and virtually walking around and seeing what the algorithm has made up was compelling. It was like discovering a new continent for the first time, or finding a street in your town thats been forgotten for decades. There’s an aspect of virtual archaeology to the whole process that I find enticing.I’m also interested in using the same tools as game developers. For example, the Perlin noise algorithm features heavily in my work. This algorithm is a main stay of game development, used perhaps most famously in landscape/biome generation in Minecraft. Sharing some of the same tools helps to anchor the work in the world of gaming and adds additional layers of depth.When discussing algorithmic art, maybe most people think of computer generated NTFs these days. This feels like a little bit of a novelty, but I do appreciate the link between the intense computer processing power to both create these artworks and also the currency they are used to purchase them.Matteo Bittanti: Kossoff Flees Ukraine is permeated by a powerful element of urgency and nowness, which you express both at the level of audio and text. Specifically, the subtitles are taken from real accounts of fleeing refugees from the 2022 conflict in Ukraine, while the soundscape repurposes recent live capture in Kyiv under attack by the Russian invaders. Kossoff Flees Ukraine is perhaps one of the most politically charged machinima about the ongoing conflict that I have seen so far. But what can art realistically achieve in times of extreme violence, cluster bombing, civilian executions, and genocide?Jason Rouse: I never really considered myself a ‘political artist’ until a chance meeting with artist that I had often admired. They were (surprisingly to me) familiar with my work and asked about the political aspect, highlighting that I was from Northern Ireland and making work about borders, oppression, military aggression, and emigration. It hadn’t really occurred to me up to that point that my work was political and that I had something to say. As far as what can we achieve in the grand scheme of things, I’ve always thought of art as in the same boat as science. It’s a case of artists or musicians or writers or directors making experiments and building on their work (and the works of others) to create these cultural breakthroughs. Scientists research and produce their own breakthroughs for things like diseases and viruses. Not everything is successful, but sometimes we get a new miracle cure or vaccine or treatment. I see art in the same way – creating small cultural impacts that eventually shape the world in which we live. Matteo Bittanti: Formally, Kossoff Flees Ukraine juxtaposes sublime landscapes, evocative of a specific artistic genre, with the harrowing and brutal violence of many first-person shooters and open world games such as Call or Duty: Warzone and DayZ. Are you suggesting that video games provide the same (as in, “equally effective”) aesthetic arsenal to understand the contingent as painting did in the previous centuries? If not, how do they differ?Jason Rouse: It’s difficult to say as working with video games (as a medium) is still relatively new. I find it fascinating how art often attempts to emulate the ‘medium du jour’ of the previous era; at the birth of photography we have portraiture attempting to legitimise the medium by posing with a paintbrush and easel in a faux self-portrait. Indeed, we can look at Andy Warhol producing work very much in the vein of his traditional print pieces on computers like the Amiga in the 1980s.I think with video games is a little different as we have a canon of evolving development tools that get more advanced with every year. You can do anything with current computers, and indie developers are increasingly producing experiences with all different kinds of functionality and aesthetic choices. I like finding games that take risks in these areas.I’m definitely guilty of emulating existing media in my work. Perhaps this may be a subconscious attempt to legitimise my own pieces within the traditional art canon, but I’d like to think this was more directed towards being self-referential and embracing the cliches and characteristics of other video games. After all, we are in the post-internet age of memetic artworks. Whatever the outcome, it will certainly be interesting to see how other artists approach working with video games in the future. Matteo Bittanti: Video games and their iconography strongly inform your practice. Can you describe your own relationship to this medium? What does an artist look for in a video game? And what kind of video games does an artist design? Jason Rouse: I think its tricky to consider video games as a medium without addressing the micro-connotations of gaming sub-genres. Specific genres have inherent cultural baggage which I’m interested in exploring. For example, I wanted to make a piece about historical mining in the adopted country of Wales, of which, a big aspect was leaving school at an early age to work in the mines. I thought about my own upbringing and wanted to make a game that reflected the aesthetics of the 16-bit era. The outcome was a self-playing game called Schoolday’s End, where a Legend of Zelda/Pokemon-esque character worked in a never-ending coal mine, relaying the words of a related Ewan McColl via on-screen text as they laboured. I thought a lot about what aspects of this paralleled the real-life struggles of the child workers, implementing things both visually and fundamentally, like introducing a score counter as a metaphor for the economic hardship faced in the Welsh valleys. So as far as for making video games, I would always consider the implications of what kind of games I was trying to emulate, and how it affected the work as a whole. Matteo Bittanti: In your work Digital Border, you explore the notion of “barrier” through the medium of the video game. This work is especially relevant today in an age of walls, surveillance, and permanent displacement. In many games, borders are often artificial: invisible walls prevent the player from continuing their progress even if there are no visible obstacles. IRL, borders are often equally arbitrary: they are the outcome of inflexible policies. In Digital Border, the game becomes both the material used to produce the artwork, and a metaphor of the hic et nunc. Like Kossoff Flees Ukraine, Digital Border is pervaded by a strong painterly style and mostly devoid of human beings. Are video game spaces inherently post-human, or is the genre of landscape painting influencing your choice to omit/remove the human element from such works?Jason Rouse: I did a number of tests over various projects introducing digital characters into the scenarios and found them much too busy, with the message and nuance getting lost in the chaos. I decided to take the work in another direction and instead focus on the quiet stillness found in pre/post conflict, which I found heightened the emotional response and created an aura of mystery and unease. I was heavily inspired by Alan Clarke’s 1989 film Elephant for its sparse portrayal of the conflict in Northern Ireland.In retrospect, the work in Digital Border and Kossoff Flees Ukraine owe as much to my interest in traditional landscape painting as they do to the quiet and unsettling events punctuating the general chaos in games like DayZ. I like to think this general discontent permeates into my physical paintings of the typical border scenes from around my native area.Matteo Bittanti: The influence of painting on your digital work is all but manifest in Skybox Friedrich, in which you use game design tools to generate landscapes reminiscent of Casper David Friedrich’s works. As you write, “The result is a series of images that simultaneously reference the history of art and contemporary gaming culture”. The “Friedrich connection” can be also seen in Claire Hentschker’s GTA Image Average, which incidentally won the first prize at the 2021 How did it best at in-game photography competition at fotomuseum Winterthur. She wanted to investigate Grand Theft Auto as a subject of art that transposes Friedrich’s subjective Romanticism to the digital age. Why do you think that such convergence is so strong? Jason Rouse: There are a lot of correlations between contemporary video games and German Romanticism. In video games, developers often strive to create something visually striking or memorable. If you have the tools to fashion any world or creation you desired, why settle for something dull and boring? Beautiful visuals will sell games, and the constant emulation of real life video techniques such as bloom, HDR and lens flare in a digital world are all rather telling. We see a similar approach in the work of Romantic painters, heightening the beauty of nature to extreme levels of kitsch. Whereas my decision to lean into the typical video game aesthetic with Kossoff Flees Ukraine was intentionally over the top, my painting work is often understated, desaturated and withdrawn. I wonder if I have an unconscious bias against this approach in my physical media. Perhaps in the future we’ll see a rejection of these Romantic ideals and some games will emerge with a more realistic approach to the visuals – a Realist future to the gaming aesthetic. But then again who would want to spend their time exploring a dull, dry and uninspired virtual environment? Even games like Euro Truck Simulator are guilty of artificially enhancing their visual ambience. Matteo Bittanti: The relationship between painting and digital gaming goes both ways in your oeuvre. Several of your projects incorporate gaming aesthetics onto canvases. In DayZ en plein air, for instance, you recreated some landscapes from the popular online post-apocalyptic game DayZ. You wrote that “Painting from a game displayed on a screen is much more enjoyable than painting from a photograph”. I find this statement very interesting. Can you elaborate? Can you describe the process of creating DayZ en plein air?Jason Rouse: With DayZ en plein air I really wanted to break the concept of painting from video games down into its most basic form. I had previously painted a number of landscapes from Half-Life and Half-Life 2, but these were typically staged scenes–screenshots that had been set up and meditated over with sketches, studies and preliminary paintings. I wanted to get away from that stoic stillness and really dig into the medium in a more sporadic and immediate manner. I looked to the plein air paintings of impressionist/post-impressionist artists as inspiration. Having set up a monitor and computer in the studio, I found that painting ‘live’ from the game offered more than just immediacy. The whole experience heightened my senses, consciously taking in the ambience while painting.I also had a number of mishaps during the painting process. Due to the volatile nature of the game, a few of the paintings ended when my character was killed by a zombie, another player, or even a server crash. This became a happy accident as it led to a different approach to the painting–blocking and moving on as quickly as possible, trying to capture something of an impression before time would run out.


Irish Music Magazine, 2022 Annual: JASON ROUSE’S ROOTS OF TRADITION

Gráinne McCoolTyrone born and Cardiff based uilleann piper, Jason Rouse has gone right back to the root of tradition with his new album, Fieldish Recording, which was recorded on an old cassette player. Gráinne McCool quizzes the piper about his passion. Gráinne: “How’d you begin playing the uilleann Pipes?”Jason: “It’s kind of a long story but my dad used to play bouzouki in a band, but he quit playing when he had kids. I didn’t know he played at all until they had a reunion gig in Glenties (Donegal) in memory of his best friend. I would have been 11 or so, and my brother a year older. The piper in his band was noel Devine, who got us started playing, myself on whistle and my brother on fiddle. noel came to our kitchen every week to teach us new tunes and we’d have a session after, followed by watching Geantraí on TnaG. It was a fantastic introduction to the music, and I was keen to move on to the pipes very early.” Gráinne: “Were there many uilleann pipers in Tyrone when you were younger?”Jason: “I’m from Sion Mills. My teacher noel, was from the next town over, Strabane. He’s a fantastic piper and teacher, and got me up and running pretty quickly. noel is responsible for teaching so many of the musicians in that area, including a few other pipers like Ciarán McPhilemy, Christopher McMullan, and well-known pipe maker Martin Gallen. Chris and I grew up playing sessions together and we’re still really close friends. any semblance of a local piping style certainly owes a lot to Noel.It’s also worth mentioning the work Na Píobairí uilleann are doing in Donegal. I always try to make it back for the Tionol in Gweedore, which is an amazing experience. sheila Friel has recently moved there too, and there’s Eoin Orr, amongst others, igniting the passion for piping in Donegal.” Gráinne: “What inspired your new album?”Jason: “I wanted to do something to mark my journey through the 21 years of piping. I’m a big fan of the old, historic sets of pipes. not many players would take on the challenge of owning these kinds of instruments, as there is really a lot of maintenance involved. I’m lucky enough to own a few of these from some of the top makers from 100 and 200 years back, but I was inspired to make this recording after receiving a set made by Geoff Wooff through a friend of a friend. Geoff made this lovely big set in 1986, and it’s as close as you’d get to an historic set, but without the maintenance issues. It really feels and plays like a pre-famine set. When I got this new set, I was instantly inspired to put it to tape.” Gráinne: “Why did you record the album on cassette tape?”Jason: “There’s a lot of pressure in Irish music to release something slick and polished, which really doesn’t sit well with me. I really love the weird notes and tend to lean into the unmusical, discordant side of the instrument. There’s magic and character in those strange and wild sounds. I’m a total nerd when it comes to old pipe recordings and much prefer listening to bootlegs and personal recordings than a polished, over the top affair. We have such a wealth of material available these days, through the work of archivists and the Internet, that it’s relatively easy to find this sort of music if you dig deep enough. I wanted to make something of a tribute album to that era, and to the music I grew up listening to and learning from. I felt that recording the old-fashioned way opened up my piping to a more immediate and personal approach.”Gráinne: “What’s next for you?”Jason: “I’ve actually recorded another album, based loosely on the idea of ‘narrative pieces’, that is, tunes that create a story as you go. I guess this was popular in times before television. I’ve taken this concept in a new and unique direction with a lovely set of uilleann pipes made by George Glen in 1900. I’m not sure the world is quite ready for this one just yet. I also co- chair the south Wales uilleann Piper’s club, in my newfound home here in Cardiff. We’ve a fantastic community of pipers and musicians locally, and I’m looking forward to organising some new events, recitals, and tuition now that restrictions are disappearing here.”You can listen to Fieldish Recording at www.pipingrouse.bandcamp.com

Axis Artist of the Month

Published 03/06/2016

Simon Boase

Tell us about your practice at the moment, how would you describe your work?

I’m an Irish artist living and working in Cardiff, Wales. I produce physical and digital work that explores the relationship between traditional art and contemporary technology.

A few years ago I naively drew up something of a ‘manifesto’ for the type of work I’d like to create. This included creating work of a large scale, using historically important techniques, colour and composition with a 50/50 blend of modern digital. Much of this still stands true but I’d like to think my work has since evolved to something more culturally relevant.

I’d say I am first and foremost a digital artist, even though I still (generally) use a paintbrush. This is much in the same way that David Hockney is very much a painter, even though he produces work on an iPad.

Tell us a bit about the role of romanticism or nostalgia of the landscapes you use? It seems like a theme which runs through a few of your works.

Its something that has never really disappeared from art, or at least from painting. Despite best efforts there remains a formidable output of overly romanticised work. Part of me recalls the early photography self-portraits, where the photographers would pose with easel & paintbrush. I don't see why its not possible to be self-referential with art, especially when working with new and evolving methods.

It seems that in the field you are making work in there is a lot of sharing ideas and work, how does this have an impact on your work? What is it about this way of working that you enjoy?

I like the idea that the piece doesn't have to stop with the work produced. To put it contextually, if you want to see a Van Gogh, you either visit the gallery, buy a book or Google it. The much needed opportunity to experience art first hand is becoming vastly easier to achieve. I like to think digital distribution adds to the interaction with the work whilst simultaneously detracting from the need to physically exhibit.

This additionally mirrors the culture from which digital art has grown from, the modding and hacking communities, developers and coders.

There is something both archaic and self-righteous about creating work in a studio until it is ready to be released onto the world via exhibition. One of the benefits of digital art is the ability to easily share work. Other aspects of internet usage are about sharing, so why can’t art be?

As an example, my recent work in Turkey was simply emailed to the curator.

“Painting from a game displayed on a screen is much more enjoyable than painting from a photograph. The game has all the beautiful ambience, wildlife, weather changes and interaction you don’t get from a photograph. “

This quote from your blog is really interesting, can you see your exploration of this developing?

Photographing a subject is arguably the best possible way to record that exact place and time, down to the very second. When you are creating a sketch or a painting you are not only capturing the place and time, but the length of time it took to produce the work. There is something in the act of working and, indeed, working with a ‘live’ subject that lends itself to the physical aspect of my practice very well.

While I was studying a number of years ago, a friend of mine was producing ‘life drawing’ sketches from a rather risqué late night tv show. Although not exactly what I was looking for in my own practice, it struck me as something in between working with a live model and working from a photograph. It was this under-explored middle ground that I found infinitely more interesting.

I think I’ve exhausted painting from games, for now at least. There is more in working from digital sources that I’d like to explore but I might return to painting in this manner in the future. I still get recommendations from both artists and gamers for what environments to investigate next.

Which artists working at the moment do you admire?

I attended the opening of the most recent solo show of ATOI, that is duo Amy and Oliver Thomas-Irvine, in Cardiff’s g39 gallery. Their work was described as ‘forensic architecture’ and simultaneously referenced big box art events like Frieze, industrial sculpture and an abandoned chemical factory in Cornwall. I found the detachment from source, polygonal output and faux art aspects of the exhibition very interesting.

Recently I have been working with artist Sarah Younan (whom I discovered via Axis) on two projects, one involving 3D scanning and printing in the National Museum of Wales and the other dealing with the immediate situation in Ankara. Younan’s strength lies in her ability to bring together very disparate practices and artists in her exhibitions. Broadly, her work deals with combining ceramics with technology.

In Dublin two months ago I was visiting the excellent Jesse Jones exhibition in the Hugh Lane gallery. After the exhibition I gave the gift shop an obligatory peruse and discovered a Thames & Hudson book on digital art with the cover image of a ‘Dead Drop’ conceived by the artist Aram Bartholl. Again, a piece with its roots firmly in the digital community. I’ve been intrigued by and followed Barthol’s work for a number of years. He is one of the most outstanding digital artists and I have recently quoted him in respect to one of my own pieces (Half-Life: Crate Edition).

I’d like to mention one of the pioneers of digital art, the critic & author Matteo Bitanti who has done much with the evolving medium and highlighted some rising stars via his books and website, gamescenes.org. I first became acquainted with Bitanti’s writing ten years ago and as the community has grown and developed he's become a consistent and increasingly important voice.

What have you got coming up?

I’m working on a number of smaller projects along the same line, with some plans to revisit eBay Morandi, an old project which I feel I didn't quite give the attention it needed. This work has been on my mind for some time and involves using found images from popular auction website eBay to create contemporary still life paintings with a focus on repetition, material and composition.

I’d like to contribute towards my local Cardiff Contemporary in Autumn 2016 with my own take on the previously mentioned ‘Dead Drop’. This is something I’ve also been planning to do, and as the theme of the show this year is ‘Communication’ I think this would be the perfect opportunity.

Further plans include a larger ‘crowd sourced’ piece later this year involving received digital 3D model files and 3D printing. If anyone is interested in sending me some items for this project please feel free to get in touch.


Gamescenes.org interview: Jason Rouse's Painted Gamescapes

Published 06/04/2014

Matteo Bittanti

GameScenes is conducting a series of interviews with artists, critics, curators, and gallery owners operating in the field of Game Art, as part of an ongoing investigation of the social history of this artworld. Our goal is to document and discuss both the origins and evolution of a phenomenon that changed the way game-based art is being created, experienced, and discussed today.

The conversation between Jason Rouse and Matteo Bittanti took place via email in June of 2014.

Jason Rouse is an artist living and working in Cardiff, Wales. In Rouse's work, digital and traditional arts converge, creating unexpected, surprising results. Rouse has painted game landscapes, developed interactive games, and experimented with generative spaces. In our conversation, we discuss Rouse's latest project, Postcards from Mexico (currently on display at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, April-June 2014, as part of the (Im)material Artefacts exhibition, curated by Sarah Younan), his fascination for landscapes - both real and imaginary, and videogame genres.

Can you provide some details about yourself? Where do you live and work? What and where did you study? What are your key interests as an artist?

I am an Irish Artist, from Co Tyrone in the North West, studied Foundation Art in Limavady College before moving to England to study Painting in Bath Spa University. Post-Degree I spent some time back in Ireland before relocating to Cardiff, Wales, where I now work in BIT Studios. As an Artist I am keen to produce work that is deeply layered yet instantly accessible. I enjoy using technology in my work to achieve this.

Can you briefly discuss the origins of your latest project, Postcards from Mexico?

A local ceramic/performance artist Sarah Younan has been prolific in working with emerging 3D printing & scanning technology. As part of her PhD work a number of museum pieces were scanned, with the intention of artists reinterpreting them through digital intervention. Where many artists in the group were interested in software manipulation and reprinting I wanted to make something more interactive. My initial thoughts were to generate some kind of game using the pieces as avatars or entities, but this proved difficult due to the hugely detailed files. I eventually used this to my advantage in expanding one scanned file up to fill a whole landscape. There were also thoughts on running a server so multiple people could explore the landscape together but this was abandoned in favour of a downloadable executable file, much like I have done in a previous exhibition (CLIFTON).

Postcards from Mexico examines the relationship between post-geographical spaces and new production techniques, i.e. 3D printing. How do you reconcile your own experiences in the intangible environments of videogames with the materiality of 3D printing? Does the postcard become a memento or some kind of evidence of a journey, a trip, that took place in a different dimension?

Bringing made up entities from games into existence makes them more real. When I was younger my brother took some photographs from a game, off the TV, with a simple film camera and had the photographs developed. To me this is giving the game a step closer to reality.

Conversely, when you take something that physically exists and create a digital copy of it, does it somehow compromise its reality? It’s an interesting subject and one I feel worth exploring with my work.

You have been using games as a medium, raw material, and canvas for quite some time. For instance, you have painted several scenes from videogames - I am referring to the Outpost - shown at the Holborne Museum of Art, in Bath - and Watchtower series. Do you see some kind of historical continuity between game landscapes and traditional painting? What is the quid, the essence, of the gaming medium in representing, or, rather, simulating "nature"? In other words, what idea of nature is constructed by games?

Context and execution is important when combining painting with games. As soon as you lift a paint brush you instantly create the link to historic painting. When games simulate nature, they too are opening up to be decontextualised. Painting lends a little more authenticity to work, and I’ve been able to use it to my advantage when dealing with art & games. Then again, there is always the danger of slipping into fandom & fan art.

Videogame spaces are often created with the only purpose of being smashed, that is, destruction in inherent and intrinsic to their own existence. You are extrapolating buildings, structures, scenes and situations from the screen to the canvas. By doing so, you are actively re-framing their importance and "visibility". In 2008, you mentioned that this process gives the image more ontological substance. Can you elaborate? Also, what inspired you to create such an interesting body of work? What is about games that you find so interesting, as a visual artist?

Games have their own language, same as photography, video, sculpture and painting. They all have aspects of ontology and when you mix things up you get interesting results. To bring it back to Postcards from Mexico, the screen shot ‘postcards’ have specific 6x4 aspect ratios, and they also have post processed slight camera lens defects, such as vignetting in the corners. In the work discussed in 2008, the physical process of painting the scenes completely changes the context and inherent nature of the source.

My inspiration came from looking at new ways to represent location via painting. Prior to the game paintings in 2008 I had been painting from digital & found sources and produced some separate digital pieces. The Outpost and Watchtower series came from an amalgamation of these two previously separate practices. I have been developing it since then. Part of me has always been intrigued in art imitating art, for example, early photographers taking self portraits holding brushes and palettes. This was kind of my take on that, to some extent.

Artists respond best to their immediate surroundings and it just so happens that my immediate surroundings involve video games.

In Skybox Friedrich, you allude to and simultaneously remediate the aesthetics of Casper David Friedrich's art. Why do you think gaming is so obsessed with the Romantic style?

Games have their own over synthesisedversions of reality. As games and game engines get more advanced the inherent limitations decrease, therefore, developers are more likely to produce a gorgeous and overly romantic landscape than a boring realistic landscape. They want to make the player go ‘wow’ which you don’t always get in real life. I love how this can tie visually into Romantic landscapes, perpetually beautiful, misty, sunrises and sunsets, beams of light, and of course, the third person view of the main subject.

Your examination of game landscapes continues with CLIFTON, a remix of Team 17 seminal puzzle game Worms. How did you develop this project?

My piece CLIFTON was produced specifically for the Bristol Festival of Photography. There was a group exhibition that had a number of responses to Brunel's famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

Bridges tend to feature in my work from time to time. They provide a link from one location to another, often over a body of water. I also enjoy the visuals of a horizontal line cutting across an otherwise organic landscape. In games, bridges can be control points, objectives, destruct points, or action set pieces.

Team17’s Worms game has been a favourite of mine since it came out in 1995. The game itself is relatively easy to modify, and user generated landscapes are simple to create and install. Worms itself makes great use of bridges, providing links across randomly generated landscapes. I thought I’d play with this concept and introduce a replica real life bridge into the game, in a fairly crude analogue to digital conversion.

I must also point out Worms was not exactly a puzzle game, more of a turn based artillery game.

"The addition of the military installation adds a contemporary subject to otherwise 'dated' landscape paintings. The contemporary theme adds political weight to a painting that has nothing to do with such subject matter.

Military installation subject matter relates to the idea of the computer game shooter more than the previous landscapes, but they sacrifice the calmness and relation to historic art inherent in the landscape painting."

Indeed! I should know better considering that I am playing the latest iterations, Worms Battlegrounds on the Xbox One right now. Apropos... What are you working on these days? And playing?

I am currently working on a number of projects, a number of them experimenting with the idea of painting en plein air. For example, I have a series of landscape paintings I am producing using webcams from around Ireland as my source. I like the idea of the painting being of a set place and time, and the challenge of a changeable landscape, forcing a quick capture of the scene. Concepts of location and forced composition/colour are also important. I don't think anyone has tackled subjects like emigration or location quite in this way before. Its also a kind of homage to great Irish artists from the past.

This idea is also being explored in relation to gaming, through a number of small paintings using the stylised eastern block landscapes of indie mod DayZ. There is an even more important role of haste with these paintings, as the game is only played live online, and there is constant danger of death due to other players or from zombies. You can’t stick around too long in one place.

The intention is to do some resurrection work on an older project, eBay Morandi, which I don’t think I developed as much as I’d liked. eBay itself is fascinating and I think there is a lot more to claim from it artistically.

I have been doing some pieces based around Google Street View in the last year or so, but none of them were particularly to my liking so that project is on temporary hold. There are some other game related pieces I’d like to do but will keep them quiet until I’ve established exactly what I want and how to do it.

Game wise, I’ve been really loving the indie game scene. Generally AAA titles with their ‘catch-all’ methods have lost their appeal. I like games that are a little bit deeper, personal, with rough edges but also great experiences.

I loved DayZ, found it to be one of the most original and entertaining games in a long time. Anything by Edmund McMillan, I’ve put more hours than I’d like to admit into The Binding of Isaac and I am excited for the reissue. I like Minecraft but preferred RPG-alike Terraria. Adventure games like Kentucky Route Zero and To the Moon are great. I also loved the tediously realistic Papers, Please. I genuinely enjoy 'non-games' like Proteus and Dear Esther too. The closest thing to a big budget game I’ve put any hours into has been Blizzard’s Hearthstone, which is both exceeding difficult and fun to play. The last game I bought was Kero Blaster, an excellent and charming run & gun platformer for iOS by Cave Story creator, Pixel.