Simon Childs

MANY ARTISTS can identify an epiphany, a definitive moment which marks a new energy and direction. Simon Childs remembers just that moment.

“It all began by accident,” he recalls. “I was working on the final images from a shoot for a global brand in LA. I found myself digging down into the images to the deepest level, on an experimental quest to dramatically change them.

“At this level, it's as if you have stripped away all the layers and unlocked the pixels that reside as the DNA of visual componentry. It’s a revelation.”

Yet Simon’s journey can be traced back further than that epiphany. After studying photography at art college, he spent many years capturing fresh and exciting images for national newspapers including The Daily Telegraph, for magazines as diverse as BBC’s Top Gear and Vogue, and also for a raft of luxury automotive makers, each seeking his talent for presenting the familiar through unexpected perspectives.

Though he may not have realised it, his aesthetic quest was leading to a slow-brewing idea that would be distilled into a bold adventure in digital creation. Working at the forensic level of pixels, he embarked on building a collection of images which explore the blurred boundaries between art and science. For anyone with an appetite for digital art, Simon’s consequent work has become a hidden doorway. Beyond it lies an exciting realm of colour and perspective, where fluidity meets geometry and the two collide – often with results that are both explosive and refreshing.

Simon works via the medium of Lambda prints, where the image is ultra-clear and is typically mounted onto aluminium before being presented on a Perspex face-mounting. By his admission, what often results can be “a tantalising state of near perfection”.

Collectively, his work invites us into a floating, almost three-dimensional medium of kaleidoscopic visions, albeit perhaps not always necessarily visions of obvious beauty. Look deeply, for example, into the troubled vision of Collateral Damage and you might be examining the scored and ravaged results of a war-torn topography; dwell too long within the mesmeric gravitational pull of such work as Sunset Over Black Precipitate and a warning of the world's ever-declining resources may be read between the converging lines. Against these, Incandescence offers an ethnic escape from the detachment of many of Simon’s images, while such studies as Just Touching entreat us to experience near-erotic sensuality.

These studies reveal a panoply of forms, from the emotional to the inhuman and the metropolitan to the celestial. So where does Simon believe the gravitational pull of such work will take him?

“At this level of digital creation, working in the confines of a tessellated world, the laws of repetition are absolute. But that doesn’t mean it’s all driving to an inevitable message. Some work is the result of experiments into visual triggers that I find I need to explore, such as the joy of pattern, texture, colour and movement,” he says.

Ironically though, he concedes such free exploration does lead to one inevitable message: “There are emerging themes as my work progresses, but overall, it points towards a broad statement about what it is to be human. Like most artists, I’m indulging a need to explore and trying to convey what it is that stimulates us, that fascinates and excites.”

It is certainly hard, if not impossible, not to be infected by the same fascinations that have drawn Simon’s eye: urban environments, building structures, repeating patterns and volume changes, the surface textures of architecture... Here you will find with Gridlocked, Metropulsion and Translucid a compelling narrative on how we perceive the cityscape, how reflections, movement and flowing colours interplay. It all builds to a tangible measure of humanity’s footprint on the planet.

Ultimately, Simon’s work culminates in a question which cannot be comfortably answered: he urges us to ask ourselves how we feel about time – and most poignantly, how we feel about it running out.

“The issue is inescapable for any artist – we all have to confront the questions that inevitably follow that process.”

Whatever your age, it is clear Simon’s work within the expressive confines of this medium will continue to yield a rich harvest of thought-provoking tableaux.

“If you work with pixels, they would like to draw you along their own pathway – which can be full of surprise turns,” Simon says. “But I suppose that’s intrinsic to their magnetic allure – it’s that energy they possess which ensures a magic that can be scientific and other worldly, yet sensual and organic.

“As long as they fascinate, it’s where I’ll stay.”

Simon Hacker
Author, Journalist and Critic


Après avoir étudié la photographie à l’université [Farnham Art College], Simon Childs a passé de nombreuses années à capturer des images fascinantes et épurées pour des journaux britanniques nationaux comme le Daily Telegraph, pour des revues aussi diverses que Top Gear et Vogue ainsi qu’un grand nombre de magazines de marques automobiles. Simon a toujours eu un certain talent pour donner des perspectives originales à des images familières.

Bien qu’il n’en ait pas eu conscience, sa quête esthétique le menait vers un concept lentement mijoté, muri, élaboré, qui se concrétise aujourd’hui dans une aventure audacieuse en création numérique.

« Cela a commencé par pur hasard » se souvient Simon. «Je travaillais sur des photos pour un reportage à Los Angeles pour un client, et je me suis retrouvé à creuser ces images en profondeur pour essayer de les transformer. C’est un peu comme si vous enlevez une couche après l’autre, délicatement, et libérez ainsi les pixels qui se trouvent dans l’ADN de la composition visuelle. Cela fût pour moi une véritable révélation.»

En travaillant à un tel niveau de dissection de pixels, Simon a amassé une collection d’images qui se situent aux confins de l’art et de la science. Pour celui qui a une attirance toute particulière pour l’art numérique, l’œuvre de Simon devient une porte secrète. Au delà de cette porte, on découvre un univers immense de couleurs et de perspectives où la fluidité parfois se marie avec la géométrie et parfois s’y confronte pour créer des images détonantes et stimulantes.

« Si vous travaillez avec des pixels, ils vous entraînent sur leur propre sentier – un sentier sinueux aux virages abondants et inattendus » dit Simon. Mais « je suppose que c’est inhérent à leur charme magnétique, l’énergie qu’ils possèdent leur donne ce pouvoir magique entre la science, la spiritualité, la nature et la sensualité »

Adaptation de la bibliographie anglaise