Miracle or Evil

British artist Shezad Dawood’s digital animation, Miracle or Evil, is based on a digitally modelled bust of Robert Anton Wilson (1932 – 2007), the American author and polymath who became, at various times, a novelist, essayist, philosopher, psychonaut, futurist, libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic. Conceived as a quantum portrait in honour of Wilson’s theories on quantum physics, the bust formally and conceptually draws on the futuristic endeavour to capture movement and multiple points of views, contained in Umberto Boccioni’s work (such as Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913), and in the constructed sculptures of Naum Gabo, yet updated to present a vista of the future-past via contemporary technology. The 3D rendered bust was generated through an assemblage of Google images of Wilson at various times of his life, reflecting Dawood’s cinematic approach to non-linear time.

Miracle or Evil appears as an elementary sequence that is accompanied by a collaborative score with composer and musician Steve Beresford (commissioned by Op. 50), in which the sparse melodic notes appear to nominate the spatial direction of Dawood’s biomorphic bust. The kaleidoscopic 3D graphic swivels about and turns over in space as though in freefall, in a measured act of creative spontaneity. Crucially, Wilson described his own work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations. To look at the world in a new way, with many ideas recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. These sentiments take shape in Dawood’s sculptural portrait, acting as the blueprint for the facial construct that becomes the basis for the animation.

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