Picture Me This: OK Computer, Radiohead


The Oxford Student speaks to Nathan Caldecott, student of Fine Art at St Catherine’s, about his artistic take on Radiohead’s innovative 1997 album ‘OK Computer’. The full image can be seen below, and visit nathancaldecott.com for more.

This is a digital painting. I make them by misusing the tools Photoshop uses to make images bigger and smaller. The tools are a basic form of artificial intelligence, which I then apply to the base visual units that the tools usepixels. These tools are designed to be used with photos, but instead I put small pixel grids in and enlarge them thousands of times, expanding them into a field of unique, interlocking shapes.

My interest in OK Computer as an album comes from how it communicates its wariness of technology and development. The original artwork scrawls out the surroundings of a motorway intersection; lyrics talk of planes, cars, and lifts all in an anxious and accelerated states, removed of places or feelings. The album has a weird sense of containership­we’re not sure whether we’re inside or outside of these ‘vehicles’ of technological change, and neither are we sure of where we’d want to be.

My work today has a similar focus on digital models, and their statehood in digital and physical spaces. I’m interested in the dual functions these models have: the roles they have to play as structural units, and the roles they could play as containers of value. A lot of my physical installations try to pry this tension open in a more acute way than OK Computer may have done 20 years ago, but my digital paintings like the one above try to join them together from the inside, to give the new vehicles of technological change some kind of authenticity, integrity, and comfort.


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