Nye Thompson has had a studio with Bow Arts since 2013. Her practice is wide-reaching: from online virtual projects and software systems, to sculptural installations using industrial waste objects, computers, light and found digital images.
She now has several shows coming up including Instructions for Humans at Birmingham Open Media Gallery (Sep-Dec 2017), Waterman’s Digital Weekender, Brentford (Nov 2017) and Show + Tell + Share at the Victoria and Albert Museum London (Feb 2018).
She has also recently secured funding from The Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary’s University for her new software art project The Seeker: ‘The Seeker is a machine entity which will travel the world virtually, and describe for us what it sees. Named for Ptah-Seker, the artist/technologist god of the Ancient Egyptians, who created the world by speaking the words to describe it, this project looks at machine learning and computer image analysis. It explores how the act of describing the world might establish a whole new worldview for machines and humans alike.’
Amongst her many accolades, Nye has been recognised for her pioneering work which deals with issues we face in the 21st century.
Thompson is an important member of a new generation of artists who are opening up ideas and concepts, which are transforming our society. The role of the artist in issues affecting free speech connected with the digital age is quite daunting. Thompson reminds us that the past and the future is about controlling imagery. The artist’s role in the mediation of that imagery is now more than ever contested. ”
Building a career as an artist is never straight forward – after finishing her Bachelor’s Degree at Goldsmiths, Nye became heavily involved in projects working with computers, the internet and technology. A big influence in this path was her brother, who is a software developer.
‘There were no computers on my BA, which now seems insane! I first went to Uni in the late 80s, amongst those future Young British Artist superstars. But after graduating I kind of dropped out of the art world, and instead got drawn into this revolutionary new thing called the ‘World Wide Web’.’
After building a successful career in software development, Nye returned to making art, now with a new focus, and a stark differentiating factor which sets her apart from most: using technology to explore the way it is transforming our humanity. After graduating from her Masters at The Sir John Cass School of Art in 2013, Nye immediately got a studio, kept ‘plugging away’ and finding opportunities to exhibit her work. In 2014 she was given an award show by Islington Exhibits for her Museum of the Shared Now, and was nominated for Castlefield Gallery’s survey of emerging artists “shaping the future of contemporary art” 30 Years of the Future. In 2016 she had her first solo gallery presentation Backdoored.io in Bank Gallery, London which received international media coverage for its highly topical subject matter.
‘Having a studio means making a firm commitment to my work. Being part of Bow Arts has been extremely helpful to me, and has provided invaluable support in developing my practice. Also, being surrounded by other artists gives me a real sense of community.’
At the annual Bow Road Open Studios this year, Nye showed a prototype installation for her upcoming show in Birmingham: Instructions for Humans. Building on her Backdoored project which takes found images from unsecured surveillance cameras worldwide, she displayed the images on screens in a security ‘shed’ for the viewer to contemplate. By placing the viewer inside the installation, and in the position of a security guard, she is playing with voyeurism, pitting it against our contemporary anxieties of online vulnerability.
When asked what advice she would give to an emerging artist, Nye highlighted the importance of professional development:
‘Map out the landscape of the part of the art world you want to be in. Find professional development sessions such as Bow Arts Creative Development Programmes. Watch how more established artists operate and learn from them. Try and connect with people – build up your network - and be ready to talk about your ideas. Much of the art economy functions on support in kind, so help others and it will come back to you when you most need it. ‘