From networked computers, the world wide web, Internet platforms such as blogging, YouTube, Second Life, and social software, through mobile phones, digital television and entertainment, digital technologies are at the centre of the dynamics of contemporary culture. Disability is a pivotal part of this digital life, playing an important role in the user-powered creative innovation coming out of digital cultures, resulting in innovations that can be used by all. Jo Verrent considers the work of artists such as Ju Gosling, Simon McKeown and Merce Cunningham as well as finding out where on Grand Theft Auto you can steal a wheelchair…
29 February 2012
The technology is there to be exploited, to be harnessed, to be pushed. Simon Mckeown is a disabled artist who has spent much of his working life within the commercial world of gaming and computer animation and so knows a thing or two about pushing at boundaries.
Now working exclusively as a digital artist and academic, his most recently exhibited work Motion Disabled has been shown internationally including within the USA at the Smithsonian International Gallery, peaking with the incredible feat of showing simultaneously in 17 countries in 25 locations on one day – International Day of Disabled People, December 3rd, 2010.
Simon’s work perfectly balances his interest, knowledge and experience of disability and in particular our view of ‘normality’ and ‘difference’, and his creative use of the digital world. Motion Disabled takes the bodies - the biological pathologies - of people who are physically different and explores these digitality using motion capture technology, a technique more commonly associated with feature films and computer games, along with 3D animation to create a kinetic connection with the human form - beautiful everyday movements highlighting all the intricacies and uniqueness of each person's physicality.
This work extends for his latest piece, Motion Disabled: Face, due for completion during 2011. This is a complicated production, and involves facial motion capture of 5 or more disabled actors, photorealistic 3D modelling and rendering, voice lip-synch and character emotion. For the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, his work is developing further to include giant inflatable models of some of the Motion Disabled avatars, and even an iphone application enabling general users to engage with the animation of his work. Steve Jobs would have been proud.