Reworking Technology

Artist Brian Gibson reveals the concealed architecture of domestic technology through a process of assemblage, print and photography.

illustrated image of Brian, a white middle aged man wearing glasses

By Brian Gibson
21 Jun 2022

Catch up with Brian Gibson’s Lunchtime Talk about his residency and artwork via the video above.

Reworking Technology

Another time — 2021. The shops are closed, the streets are quiet, there’s a pandemic going on: it’s no lightweight matter.  Still, at home looking out  to a world through a screen, there’s some contentment to be found in being creative. I recall something once read or heard that, “everything that you ever need to photograph is in and around where you live”, or words to that effect.

Ghostly black and white image like a neolithic site

Phone Home 2022 Digital Mono Print 148x210mm 

It makes sense to me. I’m working with what’s at hand, the standard art materials of pen and paper, the ubiquitous phone camera, and the lingering, no longer functioning devices of domestic tech – mobiles, laptops and games consoles. Keeping it together by taking things apart. Reconstructing – to create something new, all gates are open. The only proviso is that I’ve set myself is that whatever I create will remain as a piece of tech that no longer works as tech. The notion of the reconstructed object has been an important part my work for some time, working with what’s familiar – close at hand – developing new narratives, reworking old family photographs, using software to cut and paste folk from the past, putting them into new surroundings – new interpretations to sit with the old.


I’ve been working remotely with the arts charity Outside In, exploring and interpreting the Art Extraordinary collection now held by Glasgow Museums. This body of work was gathered by Scotland’s first art therapist, Joyce Laing, during the 1970s at the onset of closures to large-scale mental health institutions across the region. A wealth of creativity (not valued as art) was in danger of being lost along with any records of their makers’ histories. Patient artwork, working with what was at hand, marginalised, extraordinary art given a voice.  

Where do I fit in within the creative industries? I identify as an artist but for a long time the thought of being an artist felt very alien to me, it was, after all, another culture. Artists were confident, sophisticated, well-educated people and users of ‘art speak’. That was not how I saw myself.

So how do I engage with developing technologies in ways that are meaningful and enjoyable to me? Is it possible to break down the exclusivity of ‘tech talk’, to get beyond the buzz words and jargon and the endless acquisition of more user-friendly apps? 

How can one express oneself, as the artist Kin describes, shifting from a position of “speaking and not being heard”, to one of agency and being heard? 

blue and white cynotype image of inside computer

Just what is it that makes today’s technology so different, so appealing? 2022 Cyanotype positive 297x420mm

blue and white cynotype image of inside computer

Just what is it that makes today’s technology so different, so appealing? 2022 Cyanotype positive 297x420mm

Digital inclusion

What does it mean? I’m dyslexic, listening to an audio book where someone is talking about the need for other people to develop their digital literacy skills. It’s daunting, a trickle-down culture, handouts from the Metaverse, it’s over my head and I’m losing sense of where am I in these digital realms. Where do I belong? 

Digital and creative technologies are part of my daily life, certainly at hand. When did I last leave the house without my phone…on purpose? I’ve been using digital image-editing software for a long time but lately I’ve felt an increasing sense of a disconnect. Code doesn’t thrill me at all, and the joys of social media have turned to concerns about data protection and the misuse of personal information. Does social media need me more than I need it? 

Lunchtime Talk: Brian Gibson 'Reworking Technology' 7
Black and white abstract image

Base 2022 Digital Mono Print 297x420mm

My own way of engaging with digital technology has been through my own creativity. It’s a process of demystification, opening up the outer casings, looking at the architecture inside, taking it apart, without any concern for its former function. It’s deeply satisfying