Mr James Irwin

Research project: Using Printmaking and the Moving Image to relocate the individual within Algorithms and Automation


My research will address printmaking and the moving image as sites for understanding the vexed relationship between digital imagery and authenticity in a context of algorithmic automation. Software used for the production of digital imagery provides the means through which to access a recorded history of actions, where each stage of production can be revisited at any point within an image making timeline. When presented with a digital image, we are no longer merely looking at a fixed record of the present moment, but a single ‘selection' from a potentially infinite series of images. This singular image ‘surfaces' through post-production processes that provide the means to entirely reshape the representation of reality. As a credible artefact, or as a means for presenting ‘true' forms of representation, the digital image is fallible. Just as pixels can be numerically manipulated, new forms of agency arise at the points at which the individual - the user - inserts themselves within the digital production process. Within a system that has led to the proliferation of the ubiquitous image, where industry standard tools algorithmically stylise image output to recognisable norms, how and where are new forms of subjectivity being produced? How can artistic practice contribute to and shape the production of these subjectivities? As efficiencies of automation and distribution threaten to normalise originality, with the ‘viral' gaining cultural currency over the unique or the ‘one off', what sorts of works of art correspond to these changed perspectives on humanistic ideals?

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Using Printmaking and the Moving Image to relocate the individual within Algorithms and Automation
  • Research supervisor: Mr Adam Gillam
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Dean Kenning


My work investigates the relationship between physical and digital reality using digital media, printmaking, sculpture, sound and moving image. I rework and manipulate content from on and offline sources to shift or skew the relationship between the physical world and it's digital image. By doing so I attempt to offer alternative narratives, or new fictions, that challenge and confront how we make meaning. Recent examples include a single channel video composed of 4 adverts for Apple Music slowed down and algorithmically synchronised, and a networked robotic work that creates a soundscape of human breathing as robots take it in turns to navigate their way around a desktop.

Areas of research interest

  • Printmaking
  • Moving Image
  • Digital Image
  • New Sincerity
  • Post Truth


  • MFA Computational Studio Arts, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • BA Hons Fine Art, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne

Funding or awards received

  • AHRC (Professional Preparation Masters Scheme) 2008-2010