In the late 13th Century Scottish philosopher Jon Duns Scotus' questioning of the harmony of faith and reason was ridiculed by the Church, leading to the phrase 'dunce'.

       When he was 17, Colin Roberts was in his shed carving a piece of wood and stumbled upon what was only recently recognised as a new geometric shape - the sphericon.

Colin Roberts

       An artist resident in a high school. He does not have overall responsibility for large classes of young people, does not assess, write numerous reports, meet the parents nor dish out punishments. He is there with small groups of pupils, making art.

       Raphael's 'The School of Athens' fresco of 1510 depicts an imaginary meeting of philosophers and scientists, gathered together to consider the worlds of mathematics, astrology and music. The set of 3D billboards produced during the ten month Digital Art Residency at St Thomas More High School share a similar approach.


       It started with a conversation about '3D computer games'. I realised I still associated the term three-dimensional with wearing filtered glasses. We discovered how to make our own 3D images (anaglyphs) by taking pictures of the same scene from two slightly different positions.


       We took it further. Each design contains an average of 27 anaglyphs, meticulously stitched together, distorting the perspective and breaking up the surface.

       The hours spent developing ideas and images were rewarded with a few moments of gold, when people's creativity flowed instinctively and life's priorities changed a little.

       A Parma strip was lying around and folded over it read APOLLO(ni) above the number five; Apollo 5, the unmanned mission, just objects and no gravity. An old Queens Park strip with the number 8 - rotating it 90 degrees, it became a Newcastle top with the infinity symbol, reminiscent of fans' draping the nearby Angel of the North with the No.9 shirt. North Shields has a statue of Stan Laurel. Gateshead has the Angel. Standing at its huge feet we began to understand how the Lilliputians must have felt in Swift's novel.

Shearer of the North Swift

       The black holes of the Boulby Mine Dark Matter Facility run to 1100m deep, Conlon Nancarrow created music so complicated that only machines could play it, Ian Curtis was the subject of the Metro's first graffiti and John once climbed Yoko's ladder to read a little YES.

I drank it NASA

       Situations were created wherein people could relax and contribute to non-assessed works as part of a team. People were asked to think about considering something else beyond tangible products or the quantifiable. Computers were used extensively but never without having an idea prior to sitting down. The one advantage we humans still have over mechanical objects - an ability to react creatively and imaginatively - came to the fore as ideas emerged from young heads, passed through a machine and back out onto the streets of North Shields.

       Aristotle lowers his hand, indicating that perhaps answers do lie within the quantifiable world. Just to his left Plato points his right hand upwards to something else, something out of the picture.

JULY 2000