James O'Leary

James O’Leary is a designer with an interest in both digital and print media. The contrast between both analog and digital typesetting and image making is of particular importance in their work. They are interested in experimentation with sound and image to create rich, vibrant works that play with the viewers expectations of design. They have a passion for collecting unusual equipment such as cassette recorders, toy cameras, photocopiers, typewriters and scanners that bring a quirkiness and life to design. This is bolstered by their excellent digital editing skills, creating works with an unmatched level of both humanity and professionalism.

Home Recording in 2022

The central idea explored in this project is contemporary DIY music and how to record at home with minimal equipment and experience. The project is aimed at people with an interest in home recording. My project is centred around a printed publication released alongside a printed record. I utilised low-cost home recording techniques in order to showcase the possibilities of DIY home recording. The project is based on past DIY music culture of punk and how this informed the current day genres and conventions present in music packaging and production. The aim of this project is to present two recorded pieces of music that showcase home recording techniques and to print it in vinyl format. I developed and printed an accompanying booklet that explains the techniques used in the project and how to carry out the recording techniques themselves. The goal is to empower the user to carry out their own recording projects.

I mixed a variety of visual mediums from the past and present such as photocopier art, digital typography, analog typography, typewriter art, low-cost modes of image creation such as using phone cameras and what is available to the user in order to showcase just how democratic the current landscape of music production is. The objectives of the project are to draw upon the techniques of both contemporary and older DIY musicians in order to show a rounded picture of what DIY music is and can be. How analog and digital recording differs is of interest to me as both mediums come with advantages and drawbacks.

My aim was to incorporate a variety of recording techniques into my audio pieces, including digital midi samplers, field recording, scratching, feedback looping, digital and physical instruments in order to show a vibrant picture of the possibilities of music. The project utilises affordable materials, keeping the project low cost. This is as a result of my target audience being people without the money to afford a full studio of equipment. My release is a relatively short vinyl single cut on a lathe keeping the overall cost down. I used a visual vocabulary that is in keeping with DIY music, utilising materials that are available to everybody.

A New Metropolis

The central idea explored in this animation project is the visualisation of the ongoing issue of sustainability in the urban environment of the city. The visuals in the project are centred around a number of issues discussed by Kate Raworth in her talk about “Ambitious Cities”. These issues are as follows: Living in a city while respecting the people within it as well as the whole planet; The differing cultures of people in different cities and how they impact the methods of action needed to be taken; How we can make the city as sustainable as possible; Consciousness of the resources we use to sustain our cities; The rights of the workers who are critical to the upkeep of our cities.

The project is framed from the perspective of a local context. I wished for the project to have a feeling which could be enjoyed in other cities but to incorporate imagery specifically from Dublin. I chose to include imagery from the city around me in order to give the project a realness which would not be present were I to source imagery elsewhere. My first hand experience with the city itself is intended to add to the realness of the project and to make it more impactful. This is achieved by juxtaposing the familiarity of the imagery of the city with distorted visuals and sounds taken directly from it.

In this project the need for sustainability is highlighted by showing the goings on of the city in relation to construction, shopping, food waste and fast fashion through abstract photographic techniques. I thought is was important to highlight the world people based in the city live their lives in and present that back in terms that relate to the audio and make sense to the viewer. The issue of sustainability is important to me because without proper infrastructure to enforce it the planet will be unable to support human life due to the depletion of resources and climate change. My insight is that by utilising slow moving imagery alongside a soundtrack that makes use of audio recorded in the city itself the viewer will be able to see the issue of taking care of the planet in a new light and take it seriously where they mightn’t have before.