"Helot Califa neo" - 2016

This has to be the most convoluted image/title that I've ever produced to date.

I am constantly asked for some sort of explanation of my imagery or how do I “come up” with my ideas? Well it's taken me a while to get round to explaining this one but if you are interested and can be bothered to read this, you'll understand how virtually impossible I find it to explain my work. However, here's a brief summary of how this particular image evolved and came together. You may just find it interesting!

I never know what I'm going to produce when I begin a piece of work - but this piece has an extra dimension in that I don't even know when it ever “really” begun - but here's my best effort!

The way I create any image begins with “doodling” as I've said many times but I save lots of doodles over many years – just as I collect thoughts over many years and the many strands begin to intermingle in any present moment I may be reassessing them. I sometimes “shock” myself with part images which I've produced – and wonder “what did I make that for?” But I can sometimes see things in “bits and pieces” of imagery that I have collected, fused together with a newer, updated view of the world.

So, as usual this image has been cooking for some time. My starting point was a giant 3D virtual maze (built about five years ago – this was based on some similar Perspex puzzles I had made at art college over 40 years ago - then I just left it alone – I'd lost interest.

Also in my store of doodles, I had - some time ago - built the strange "base structure" when I was musing on building a "New Henge" which stemmed from an enquiry from “Sustrans” who wanted to know if I was interested in building a sculpture for the Millennium - so that must have been around 20 years ago. However, this had a 'top' on it which I didn't like - (I'm only explaining this because the next bit was so weird) so I put the maze on top of the "Henge" for some reason and 'scattered' the brains around at random, as if they were perplexed by this huge maze. But the more I studied the strange juxtaposition of these items, the more I thought it reminded me of something or some image I'd seen…..somewhere. I couldn't think what the hell it was and it was driving me mad for at least a couple of weeks when one day on the car radio Hotel California came up. As usual I was singing along (very badly) as this is one of my all time favourites when I suddenly realised that the LP sleeve might be the image that I was trying to recall. When I got home I checked on the web (my old cassette copy long gone) and sure enough this was what had been bugging me. (Check it out – it's nothing like my image in the real sense - but then I hadn't done it as a copy anyway).

Parallel to this, something in the news had got me thinking again about a concern I've had for a long time (I suspect a lot of people think very similarly) about Twitter, Facebook, You tube, Instagram, Skype accounts etc where all this information that is being uploaded (voluntarily – which is very important) and stored “somewhere” is both a good and also a bad idea. It means that some piece of equipment - somewhere – has now got a record more accurately stored than our own memories and even more alarming is that anyone can look at it, copy it and use it in ways that it might not have been intended for. We've already seen it used when people go for interviews and have their past ruin their chances. Politicians and other powerful people get themselves into all sorts of trouble (which is the positive element to it) but in general it's a relatively new beast that we should still be wary of and are still learning how to tame. Anyway, it came to me that all this stuff is metaphorically all stored in one huge computer somewhere in California. And so now that became an interesting “muse” for a while - my image, Hotel California, and some storage facility in California, all mixed up together.

I lived with all this going around my thoughts for a couple of days before checking out - for some reason - whether the word caliph was in any way anything to do with California and how it got its name. No one is really too sure who Califa was but I could now see some correlation with the “power-base” of a new Caliphate – a virtual one! I felt I was now onto something and so the next thing I pondered was an anagram of Hotel California – just because this might be an interesting way to find a suitable deconstruction of the piece as I still couldn't decipher it.

Well this was when I got really fired up - I took the anagram of hotel (there aren't any really) and I'd heard the word helot before but I didn't know what a “Helot” was until I looked it up - they were the slaves of the Spartans. So.....now I was looking at the image thinking “well that's what we are all becoming, enslaved to this giant storage facility – it's Helots, it's slaves. This beast is hoovering up information at an ever increasing rate (and all being stuffed in there voluntarily) it's just like The Trojan Horse (there's an interesting computer usage here also) and the Helots themselves probably built that too. So, just as the Spartans who besieged Troy with their gift-horse we have to ask - “is all this information storage, masquerading as a free gift, really only the same as the wooden horse?” It can store all our info, give us free communications and entertainment – but could it eventually destroy our need for our own accurate memory, free thought (or free brains) and possibly, ultimately our freedoms?

Blimey – I was stunned with where the muse had taken me. The image was becoming even more powerful in depicting my thoughts: I didn't think there was anything else to discover until “POW” - I remembered the last line of the actual single from the album “Hotel California”. It sums up everything about the storage of our information.

“You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

All that was left.........to add two circling Eagles.

So could Helot Califa neo - roughly interpreted - be the beginning of a new caliphate under which we - the Helots – are eagerly building a new Trojan Horse which could just lead to our own downfall? 14.1.17

I've only recently seen other interesting tie-ups with the lyrics -

"We are all just prisoners here, of our own device"

They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can't kill the beast.


............."Helot Califa neo" - some of the detail at 50% resolution