I started this work as a consequence of entering the world of
computers and then soon after, internet.
I was very interested to see the computer being used, not just
- " numbers cruncher" but also as a means of communications.
The growing use of miniature cameras attached to computers opened
up the possibility of teleconferencing - the video telephone,
something which from my childhood had always tickled my imagination.
As a small child, I had expected that by the year 2000 we would
all be wearing plastic clothes , robots would take care of all
our whims and fantasies, we would be whizzing round in small
hover cars and talking into our watches and communicating with
each other via video phones.
It has come as a bit of a blow that just a few years away from
the millennium very little of this technological utopia has actually
happened. ( just as a point of interest; Singers in the late
70's started to sell all their interests in sewing machines and
allied fabric industry based on predictions that within a decade
we would all be wearing plastic clothes. By the 80's they had
beaten a hasty retreat and once more centred their business around
so it wasn't just wishful eight year olds
who were caught out. )
It wasn't until the advent of cheap personal computers in the
late 90's that video telephones finally became a possibility
( not in our personal hover cars but in the much less exciting
environment of the working office or sometimes even at home )
1997 Video conferencing comes of age. Up to 8 people could simultaneously
be seen , look at and talk to each other on the screen. It was
cheap, it was exciting, it was interactive ( which was the new
buzz-word ) and it worked! Communications were on line, we were
wired, we had entered a new age.
Once equipped with a computer and a camera I looked around
to see with whom I could talk. Who was out there?
I had heard lots of rumours in the press about "virtual
sex" When it came down to it, it was difficult to find .
But, finally I found the address of people who went on line and
did all those things that the newspaper had been screaming about
for so long. It was a deliciously wicked moment. I had arrived.
I was no longer a "newbie" I was now a seasoned "surfer"
What I found was 7 people in video conference ( 8 including me,
who was now know as a "lurker" as I was not participating
just watching. Once upon a time I would have been called a "voyeur"
I suppose. ) The other 7 were all men, all were known by different
names, ( see the list of names to the right ), all could be seen
only from the neck down and all were showing their penis's in
different states of erection. These people were masturbating
on line. I called back the next night and they were still there
doing the same thing. I called back each night, they were still
In the course of the next 3 months, I followed these mainly headless
figures and it became increasingly obvious that here was the
real virtual sex that the media had been worrying us with for
so long. This wasn't just a one off occasion, this was every
night. The sex lives of these men now revolved around a computer,
a semi darkened room and a partner or partners who could be on
the other side of the world.
I began to paint these images live, on line and showing them
the paintings as they were being painted. Most of the men were
interested, often jealous when another person and not them was
chosen to be painted and very few expressed a negative opinion.
The original paintings were much smaller in scale but as the
work progressed so the scale of the work increased until it reached
the size of the present paintings. 100cm x 80cm
I am very pleased that the project is now finished as the strongest
emotion which surfaced whilst painting these images was one of
sadness. I think that what these men are doing could in part
be a manifestation of the general alienation felt by most people
and in the age of HIV and AIDS this is taking safe sex to it's
All those childhood dreams of whizzing around and everybody being
in contact seem such a long way away.
doggybag January 1997 Barga (LU) Italia
boy in bed