Royal College of Art, London
Tim O’Riley was born in Britain in 1965. He lives in London where he works as an artist and a tutor at the Royal College of Art and Chelsea College of Art & Design. O’Riley studied at Leicester and Chelsea, where he completed his PhD in 1998 and was awarded an AHRC fellowship in 2004. He is variously interested in science, the limits of knowledge, curiosity and dialogue as spurs for thinking and generating artworks. A key project has been a commission to make artworks in response to research at CERN, The European Laboratory for Particle Physics, Geneva. The most recent product of the subsequent ongoing research was an artist’s book, Twenty-Seven Kilometres, published in 2013 by Revolver Publishing in Berlin. Along with a short text, this features a series of photographs from 2008, featuring the Large Hadron Collider as it was being installed and prior to its first particle accelerations. O’Riley has published work in various journals and books, and has exhibited work at venues including Pippy Houldsworth, London; Rubicon Gallery, Dublin; Galerie Olivier Houg, Lyon; Briggs Robinson Gallery, New York; PS1, New York; Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; The Science Museum, London; Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Articles of Tim O’Riley
The Unassimilable Image
This short essay considers Flusser’s thoughts concerning the relationship between image and language in light of Hubert Damisch’s Theory of /Cloud/. It explores the degrees to which the image—despite a flood of contemporary manifestations particularly of what Flusser called the ‘technical image’—remains resistant to textually based systems of communication and (scientific) knowledge. It proposes a necessary openness to the image where, given the nature of how sense is made regarding the multiple ways it can be approached or ‘read’, provisionality and indeterminacy are essential, positive attributes.
Considering linear perspective as a precursor to the technical image, the paper explores the sense in which the ineffable—seen as intrinsically related to Damisch’s notion of /cloud/—is inseparable from and perhaps essential to the representational systems signified by the camera or the computer. These emerge from a constantly developing ‘net’ of language through which knowledge about the world is defined and acquires its dizzying complexity. This net is regarded as intertwined with, yet of a different order to, the image. Flusser’s technical image locates this concept firmly within a linguistic system but such an image still has echoes of its origins, and is thus open to difference in terms of how it is approached and what can be drawn from it. This is a productive incompleteness. Some of the author’s visual works, which are thoroughly enmeshed with the thoughts that have led to such thinking, are represented and function as asides, responses, or counterbalances to the ideas explored in the text.
Chance and Improbability
This text discusses Flusser’s thinking regarding the ‘technical image’ in relation to a recent artist’s book, Accidental Journey. The book is nominally about the moon and astronomy, and contains images, factual and fictional texts, documents of my own and others’ research, travels, illustrations, scientific diagrams, and so on. Also presented is an excerpt from the book together with a selected quotation from an unpublished work by Flusser, ‘Between the probable and the impossible’, (Vilém Flusser Archiv, number 2723). Often with art it is not clear what goes into formulating and making a work. The research that feeds into the development of the work remains crucial but is often undisclosed. Acting as a repository for the unexpected, the book in this sense was an attempt to enable these things to see the light of day. Flusser’s thinking is important not only towards developing a critical understanding and formulation of theory and a reflection on the practical processes at work, but also in terms of the nature of research itself: that is, the potentialities that proliferate through looking and searching, which hint at a realm of the possible as opposed to the probable. The text is not intended to situate Flusser’s writing other than in terms of my own thinking and the processes that lead to making work, in whatever form that may take.