[interview extract from International Times]
What was the spark that inspired you to invent the iCoda? Was it something you were searching for or stumbled upon?
It’s funny, but I guess it was a drop of water rather than a spark, a leaky pipe in my utility cupboard suddenly burst: unfortunately in this cupboard I kept all my old photographs, letters, correspondences, documents all kinds of ephemera.
Retrieving the contents I dried out the photographs and discovered as I peeled them apart, images transferred onto other images, and, rather than being grieved by my childhood being washed away, I was totally fascinated with the textures and chance juxtapositions of the photo transference.
Excited by this new and strange ‘archive’ I scanned in the images, documents etc. and started layering them in Photoshop. It got me thinking that a surface such as a photograph never stops recording i.e. damage, folds, fading etc. and through my research I came across an old medeavel technique called palimpsest, which condensed all my thoughts and theories of what memory transpires to be. Basically people used to write their letters on animal skin with ink, then after the recipient has read the correspondence they would “scrape” off the ink and write the reply, and eventually the surface of the animal skin, after being used many times, would be made up of layers of residual markings.
Continuing on from that, was it a scientific/technological or artistic inspiration that was the driving force behind it?
I was commissioned by Inspire Northumberland to make a short looped video for their information portals in and around Northumberland. The video, Tapestry, was a slideshow, using this new technique of the palimpsest I had discovered; images fading in and out with poetry in the form as text to explain my ideas associated with memory. As I was documenting the video in situ I noticed visitors entering in clusters, one moment it was quiet then suddenly a handful of people would come in and start chattering. As I photographed the people and the plasma screen I suddenly got the idea: “what would happen if their sound initiated the images and brought forth layers of hidden images?” I then got the idea for a new media project.
I received a Fellowship from Teesside University and developed the Desktop prototype then went on the release iCoda Palimpsest (2011) and iCoda Creator (2016).