The Illusion of Agency
Project info

The Illusion of Agency (2014) is a series of 36" x 24" images of tiny plastic figurines (no bigger than one's thumbnail) originally intended for use in the context of architectural models. The project depicts these characters still attached to their 'stalks', bathed in atmospheric natural light. The pictures were made extremely close-up, using a low-end digital compact camera which contributes to a certain uncanny sensibility. Despite their very small size, the sculptural detail afforded to these objects seems remarkable; when enlarged, this imbues the figurines with a sense of personality, albeit somewhat surreal.

In common with much contemporary fine art practice, (from Duchamp through to John Cage and a range of present day practitioners) the work, in its own way, seeks to explore the notion that the concept of there being such a thing as a 'separate' individual is precisely that - a concept - with little by way of evidence to support it. Such exploration calls into question the very notion of free will and implies that such 'agency' is little more than an illusion.

Consequently we see the characters in this project, somehow unaware of the fact that they are 'plugged into' a common source, believing perhaps they are in control, when essentially this is not the case. The sense of ephemerality is heightened by the presence of empty stalks which will at some point 'grow' new characters who in turn, will make way for their replacements.

In some respects, The Illusion of Agency (title borrowed from I AM THAT - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj) can be seen as an intentionally 'primitive' take on philosophical territory explored in such works as the movie The Matrix. The project is very much in line with my previous output down the years which is concerned with the idea of nonduality, a notion at the heart of Eastern philosophy and one increasingly pivotal to contemporary art practice across a range of disciplines. Put at its simplest, the central question at issue here is, 'what is the self?'. Of course art and science have long since been inseparable bedfellows and it is no surprise that recent discoveries in neuroscience inform the sensibility of projects such as The Illusion of Agency.

For information - prints for exhibition: actual image size, 36ins x 24ins plus 2ins white border; digital images on matt paper, (preferably Hahnemuhle) dry mounted, in simple white frames.