Block 1 Visual Artefact

Visual Artefact
Visual artefact to represent the Cyberculture block – Composite of images from iStock and Google Images – Please click image for full resolution version on

Image is also available here in Media Hopper for those who can’t access through their firewall

14 thoughts on “Block 1 Visual Artefact”

  1. This is great, Nigel! How did you make it? There is so much in this image.

    I like the way you’ve used the juxtaposition of what’s happening inside and outside to make a comment on the prevalence of technology, as well as its inherent possibility for variance. Is there something too about the way in which technology can absorb our attention, physically(?) preventing us from seeing what’s beyond it?


    1. Hi Helen

      Thank you, I’m glad you like it and that you ‘got it’.

      >Is there something too about the way in which technology can absorb our attention, physically(?) preventing us from seeing what’s beyond it?
      Absolutely, I was also trying to convey the unseen nature of what’s going on in cyberspace, the dark web as well as the otherness of technology and the perceived ‘cyber threat’. There’s more but I will wait to see if there anyone else wants to comment before I explain what I was trying to achieve. There might even be some subconscious choices I’ve made, I’ve spotted one but I won’t give the game away 🙂

  2. What a wonderfully rich image Nigel!

    Are you at the control panel orchestrating the action or just watching things play out? Is the chaos part of the infrastructure of the way technology works or how it feels to manage?

    I also notice that there are many devices and that they take up different spaces and are used in different contexts too.

    Thanks for this.

  3. You might have spotted that the images outside are from different generations. What I had in mind was to try to represent the way humans have often represented androids and other robots as destructive. I also wanted to convey the unseen nature of some of what’s going on in cyberspace, the dark web, as well as the otherness of technology and the perceived ‘cyber threat’.

    The devices are all connected to the ‘cloud’ one way or another, which was intended to represent the constantly connected life many of use lead. Hence I’ve also tried to represent becoming cyberized, both in the sense of adapting to digital technology and culture and to becoming a cyborg.

    I spotted after I created the image that I had pushed my work life off to one side (the Macbook on the right) and I’m clearly not paying any attention to it! I don’t think that’s how I am when I’m reflecting on the course’s content, because I’m always trying to tie the concepts and readings back to my day job, but it did make me wonder if it there was something relevant in the placement.

  4. This is absolutely stunning Nigel, can’t stop staring at it!

    Very apocalyptic, “it’s the end of the world as we know it”-type situation 😉 It does a great job at conveying a number of things.

    Profusion: the impressive number of screens and devices is a good reminder of the constant visual solicitation and exposure to tech. It also raises the question of attention.

    Control: who is in control ? You occupy a central position (almost looks like a control tower of some sort from where we’re standing) however your apparent oblivion to what is going on outside (like the end of the world!!!) suggests detachment (perhaps we are so obsessed with tech that we become blind to the outside world or perhaps there is simply nothing we can do about it because we have lost control).

    Your posture suggests tension, tiredness (is your bionic shoulder hurting?) as if somehow this is all very unnatural and unhealthy…

    I would love to learn what you used to compose the image, it’s great quality!

    1. Hi Roxanne

      I’m glad you like it 🙂
      >“it’s the end of the world as we know it”-type situation. It’s not all destruction, if you look very carefully you’ll find some of the friendly faces of AI are there too, WALL-E, Jonny 5 and Big Hero 6 (have fun finding that last one, you might need a browser that can zoom in!). I was trying to depict that pervasive sense of threat from AI that is perhaps part of our collective consciousness but that isn’t so evident in what’s in front of us. I’ve also used images from a number of generations as a reminder that this sense of unease has been around for a while.

      >Your posture suggests tension, tiredness (is your bionic shoulder hurting?) as if somehow this is all very unnatural and unhealthy…
      Yes definitely something along those lines. The idea with the circuitry was that it could be viewed in two ways, either as an enhancement or like a spreading infection creeping up on us from behind.

      >I would love to learn what you used to compose the image, it’s great quality!
      I created it in Adobe Photoshop mainly using royalty free images from iStock and a couple from Google images in as high resolution as I could find. There are 27 layers to the image!

  5. This was really well executed, Nigel, thank you. For me, one aspect which stands out is that you are ‘business as usual’ at your screens, complete with business attire, as the post-apocalyptic scene plays out outside. It’s as though we have already entered the post-apocalyptic age, but life continues.. which is not something I’d disagree with.

  6. Hi Nigel,
    I loved this brilliant image packed with interest and meaning. What jumped out at me was your tense shoulder (despite its being bionic) and the fitbit on your wrist. I understood that juxtaposition to symbolise the tension between how far you want technology to ‘augment’ or ‘enhance’ the human?

    1. Thanks Cathy, glad you liked it.

      It would be wrong of me to claim that I intended every meaning that everyone has attributed to the image, although I did intend for it to be open to interpretation.
      It’s been great to read how much meaning you and others have found in it, maybe I can even claim it to be ‘art’:)

      1. Amazing work, Nigel! So rich… One could spend hours looking at this! I too wondered about the fitbit and its connection to the glimpse of your bionic shoulder – is there a connection?
        Super cool, Nigel – thank you for this!

        1. Thanks Anne good to hear you got something from it. I hadn’t made a deliberate connection between the Fitbit and the ‘bionic shoulder’, other than everything in the image being connected in the cloud.
          A few people have commented on the screen set up, it’s actually the sort of configuration used by stock traders and, as well as allowing me to show the multiplicity of online demands on our time, I thought it would be a nice little nod to the next block on Algorithmic cultures.

  7. Really rich image here Nigel, excellent work! So much to interpret, and great to see so many creative interpretations here.

    The RSI is nicely noted! And reminds me of Daniel’s artefact ), it’s an interesting way to sign the embodied nature of all that ‘virtual’ and ‘non-human’ connection.

    There is a super contrast between the utopia of your clean and tidy desk and its various ‘cloud’ devices, and the dystopia of the destruction going on outside. I also thought one could interpret the outside as your imagination – the course influencing your thinking to the extent that you imagine and see the view outside differently.

    I also thought that the array of screens looked like a security arrangement, that you were somehow surveilling the web, whereas it was in the ‘real’ world that things seemed to be going wrong! An interesting comment on the ‘virtuality’ of cybercultures there perhaps, that the notion of the otherworldliness of the web tends to distract us from its connections to the real world.

    Really super image Nigel, nice work!

  8. This is such an intriguing artefact, Nigel.

    The thing that really struck me on first viewing was how calm you appear in face of the dystopian chaos unfolding beyond the glass screen. We can’t see your face however there’s almost a sense that you’re unmoved by what’s going on. In fact, maybe you’re bored even, the result of the repetition pointed to in the discussion above? I didn’t get the same sense of apocalypse of some others who have commented above: the fact that you are foregrounded in the image and dressed for work almost gave me the impression of you being in control: almost a sense of ‘business as usual’.

    And having now read your rationale in response to Chenee’s question I really like that you sought to draw in content representing different historical periods. As we watch the sepia-tinged tripods lurch into view we are usefully discouraged from seeing the relations between human and machine as a recent concern.

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