‘Systems interference artist’
Appropriation and unearthing the poetic in everyday, often imperfect, technologies and systems are key activities. The original aim was to find items of data and digital artefacts, but the interest extends beyond the computational network, to heavier machineries and physical infrastructures. Real movements of packages and multifarious vehicles appear on the roads for example, as a direct reflection of the invisible information flowing, and ‘packet switching’, on digital networks. O’Connell attempted to break the new lower speed limits being introduced in many urban areas (on foot), was ‘onboarded’ as a Deliveroo rider, and exhibited estate agent/auctioneer ‘Sold’ boards on their posts. There is often a performative aspect to the work or its presentation. Methods and documentation are openly shared. Elements from the investigations are often montaged in to the short looping films, or simupoems, which have been a consistent feature of the practice, and two of which are part of the late Michael Shamberg‘s Turtle Salon collection).
Work has been shown in project spaces, established locations such as the Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), Lighthouse (Brighton, UK) and Wandesford Quay Gallery (Cork City, Ireland) and, long before the Covod-19 pandemic, using available and invented systems for streaming, distribution and obtaining feedback. An early project, Contra-Invention, had been invited to Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d’Arles, was later part of From Here On at Arts Santa Mónica, Barcelona and more. O’Connell was subsequently invited to join international grouping ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative and, since completing a practice-led PhD in 2016, has been actively intervening again, independently, with The London Group, and other collectives. In 2019 a Develop Your Creative Practice (DYCP) grant was awarded, and then a substantial Commissions Award by The Arts Council Ireland to generate new work for a solo exhibition which will take place at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre in 2022.