Micheál O'Connell

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01/08/2019 14:00 - 00:00


Annie Mays




Uillinn Artist in residence Micheál O'Connell takes you on a walk and talk from Uillinn around Skibbereen in search of the imperfect, the ugly and the invisible. His main interest is in the often dysfunctional systems, technical and bureaucratic, which surround us.


Micheál O'Connell (a.k.a. Mocksim) is in residence at Uillinn from 1 July to 31 August. He describes himself as a systems interference artist and here are further details about his interests and intentions during the residency.

'Since exhibiting photographs taken by traffic wardens in a series called Contra-Invention in 2010 I have initiated many similar hacks. I found it was possible to access courier company ‘point-of-delivery signatures’ (the ones you make on those tracking devices when a package arrives). These were then compiled into a book, a slideshow, a poster was printed, and other material created for exhibitions. The title Missing You was chosen because packages often arrive at the wrong time or are misdelivered. Despite all the technology, the system is dysfunctional. 

Later I discovered that the supermarket self-checkout machines, being rolled out in many areas, could be used to buy nothing. Hundreds of the resulting zero-transaction receipts were collected and exhibited in various ways. More recently I sent money flowing unnecessarily around bank accounts, used a mobile handset as speed-camera, and created symphonies through simultaneous use of sat-nav applications while driving between destinations. The found materials, digital ready-mades so to speak, are presented directly with little embellishment (for example PODS or A0 Zero Receipt Poster). When the opportunity arises, physical objects connected with everyday functional systems are retained and exhibited too (Housing for instance). Also methods are shared in the form of instructions or ‘tutorials’ (How to Buy Nothing is a popular example). Lastly elements may be incorporated into more abstracted performances (a recorded live stream of one such is Banky) or the short looping films I terms simupoems (see Navigating). The latter often employ 3D modelling and animation tools, physics engines or algorithmic sequences.

My work has been presented in project spaces, and established locations such as Matt’s Gallery and the Whitechapel Art Gallery (in London), Lighthouse (in Brighton, UK) and Wandesford Quay Gallery (Cork). Contra-Invention had been invited to Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles, was subsequently nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize and part of From Here On at Arts Santa Mónica, Barcelona. 

As well as developing new work during the residency period at Uillinn, in the same spirit as the initiatives described above, I want to perfect a method for date-specific online broadcasting I have been developing. I am a member of the following, ABC Artist's Books Cooperative, The London Group, APEC Artists' Studios and The Cybernetics Society and I am interested in strengthening and maintaining links between partners, groupings, collaborators and other artists in Britain and Ireland (whatever happens post-Brexit). I would like to invite individual artists to critique my approach, with me giving them feedback if desired. Lastly, I will organise some walking tours around Skibbereen to discuss everyday items of interest such as signage, shop-front imagery, road markings, retail machinery, parked cars and delivery vehicles."