Career

 

I graduated in 1995 from the school of art at the University of Aberystyth with a BA hons in fine art. In my comercial life I've designed clothing stores for Newlook retailers and giant exhibition stands for Anglian Windows. I've illustrated for newspapers like the Telegraph, magazines such as PC format and a whole raft of scientific, educational journals and publications.

 

 

 

Themes of my work

 

 

I'm interested in the in between or cusp aspects of life and reality. Where does truth cross into lie, the real into the unreal, how does the virtual intersect with what we understand as the everyday? What is left to be discovered what will forever be hidden?

 

A turning point subject I'm keenly interested in is the scientific and philosophical theories springing from one of the more radical ideas to be born in the late 20th century; transhumanism or the so called H+ movement. Philosophers, scientists and commentators describe rapidly approaching technological change and its impact on society. I'm fascinated with how its fundamental ideas like life extension might be absorbed and blend into our society. Threaded into our existing notions of consciousness, self and afterlife. Will these ideas clash, be rejected and fought against or become absorbed into our culture? Who in society will benefit and who will lose out?

 

I first came in contact with H+ writers on the internet in 2004 whilst researching artificial intelligence for an artwork exploring consciousness whose surface I repeatedly erased. It was Venor Vinges seminal 1993 essay "The Coming Technological Singularity" that I stumbled onto. It peaked my interest and drove me to seriously research these new ideas and contact the leading lights in the movement like Kurzweil, de Grey and the biggest influence on my work, Oxford University's Nick Bostrom.

 

Bostrom has written extensively on the ethics surrounding rapid technological change, existential risk and the simulation hypothesis. It is the simulation hypothesis that intersects most closely with my newest work. Bostrom reasoned that all sufficiently technological species may at some stage be able to simulate reality to make it indistinguishable from reality for various reasons (leisure, research etc). He produced an equation to quantify the likelihood of our own perceived reality being in fact a simulation. His findings point to the high percentage chance of our reality being a simulation. My latest work takes this theory and injects it into a collaborative art project with an artificially intelligent artist from our near future.

The painted main works are meditative 'alter' pieces to the sitters. An image of the sitters rendered in paint of their own reforming, awaiting. The paint and 'reality' of the glass element is reflected against the digital re-workings and 3D computer simulacra glass in the smaller printed works. A processing, transformation and reconstitution. Experience on the edge of conscious thought and awakening.

 

Is a person the same one minute, one hour, one day, one year, one decade, one century from now? Is there an essence to a human being without evoking a soul? Is there a line of consciousness, between your laptop, an expert system like IBM's Watson or a future AI? Will artificial consciousnesses be emotionless and cold like Hollywood suggests or will they have empathy and compassion greater than our own? Will our society prescribe them a soul? Maybe the answers to these questions will always be hidden, partially obscured..

I'm an artist and painter working in the UK. My works can be found in private collections, and commercially in magazines, advertisements and online. From 2004 I've been exploring transhuman themes and thread this into my current work. © 2015 Russell Rukin