Updated: Apr 30
The children of the eighties are the prototypes of upgraded humanity. They are the children of the digital age, children of the first generation cyborg. The concept of humanity is being transformed while post-modernism introduces a new era in art. Via computers, television, cartoons and comics my childhood was immersed in images of cyborgs, superheroes and machines from the land of the hyper-real. The essence of the cyborg became my own, I identified with the concept of such a being and it has informed my work to date.
Hyper Real in an unreal, virtual world
Post-modern philosophy focuses heavily on the concept of the ‘hyper-real’ as immortalized byJean Baudrillard. This concept informs my research and has led me to other spheres of study, cross-referencing various genres influenced by the philosophy of the hyper-real.
My work explores the contemporary (in)human condition and the aesthetic forms used are sculpture, conceptual drawing, video, and installations.The modern world viewed through the cathode ray, digital surveillance and observations of contemporary society compelled me to explore a dystopian vision.
‘Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be.’ George Orwell
Contemporary society explores the perversions of the media. Serial killers are glorified, the news is controlled and censored, military regimes and dictatorships prevail. The dystopian vision prevails over all.
My drawings are created using a continuous line, then worked into to add flesh. The images that are created are cyborgs, reflecting the body's dystopian descent into the word of the hyper-real. The drawings have a classical style but flow in an expressively twisted dystopianvision of contemporary society.
My early work concentrated on the 'bare bones' of the cyborg. It carries no flesh, it is the basis of my work in progress. It is naked and stark as is the central feature in Duchamp's “The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors even” The drawings are pure cyborg, without embellishment. They are infantile and simplistic in their appearance but not in their construction, being drawn in one continuous line.
'A man who does not accept the conditions of life sells his soul"
From this premise, I conceived that my first born cyborg would interpret the modern age as I perceived it. He would grow and evolve through time and influence. Each epoch carries with it interpreters of that age and it is in the French Symbolist Movement of painters, poets, and novelists that I find particular empathy. Their dystopia is veiled in grandeur, concealing in the subject matter the notion and fear of decay, which pervades their various works. In contrast, the cyborg image openly displays that decay as it evolves into a continuing motif in my work.
My work is of its time before it's time and ahead of its time.
Hallidonto was invited to present this 'Cyborgia Manifesto' and a Q&A with award winning philosopher Dr Francesca Ferrnando
Central Saint Martins talk:
With Comic book writer legend Warren Ellis and Dr Jamie Brassett
About the author
Hallidonto (Graeme Gerard Halliday) is a Scottish artist originally from Dundee based in London, England. His work relates to his “Cyborgia Manifesto” his main focus is drawing; The essence of the cyborg became my own. The cyborg image has been an integral part of my childhood. The cold war had just ended – the cultural landscape of the '80s was very much rooted in the future, the natural feeling of that time was dystopia from the cartoons/films, I watched as a kid, the advent of console gaming: Nintendo, etc. The image of man was always his metamorphism into the machine, or the machines taking over. I identified with the cyborg image, and I wanted to be one. I identified with the concept of such a being, and it has informed my work to date. They are infantile and simplistic in their appearance but not in their construction, being drawn in one continuous line. The continuous line has such intrigue the build-up of lines mirrors the essence of double helix structures akin to DNA, that create these lifeforms.
My visual discourse is motivated by transcribing the sociological developments of our age, the evolution of the flesh its reflection of the future state of humankind raises the questions of what it means to be human within an organic-techno-digital world, what was once flesh in an ever-changing landscape, I see my work as the neo-renaissance., my work questions our existence and relation to the organic and if we go to far can we call ourselves human, this anxiety, the flesh anxiety. Hallidonto's cyborgs go a step further; his figures are devoid of all humanity- a testament to the suffering of the born in its struggle against the manufactured. Despite the symbolic nature of his work, Hallidonto’s cyborgs beg the question: what happens next? The result is a challenge to the viewer, deconstructing the remaining self-image of the human, the Cyborg forms are depicted in stages of life that are painfully familiar: birth, the past, family, death, sorrow and the future, the departure into a new being.
My manifesto presents describe my influences and my modus operandi. It unfolds my vision of humanity via philosophical context, this simulacrum of the cyborg image, now has an ontological reality.