Network: Desmond Morris My Technology: The naked photocopier

The anthropologist Desmond Morris made his name with pop-science bestsellers such as `The Naked Ape' and `People Watching'. But he is also an artist who finds colour copying a boon
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There are people who are frightened of technology, who are scared of new fangled things. Some friends of mine would almost prefer to work with a quill pen. And quite famous authors still do long hand in little exercise books. But I got accustomed to technology, thanks to my childhood. My father was a writer, so when I was very small he gave me a proper typewriter and I could type almost before I could write. I resisted the computer until ten years ago because I loved my IBM typewriter, a big, black elegant machine. But the electronic "cut and paste" facility on a computer was something an author who loves to fiddle around with words couldn't ignore.

My favourite technology is my colour photocopier. It's the most useful piece of gear I have had since I got my computer. I first got interested in having a colour copier when I was doing an interview for a television programme at a cartoon studio in Los Angeles, where inevitably they had amazing technology. There was a magnificent colour copier. I found out they cost something like pounds 15,000. However, then Hewlett Packard produced one for only about pounds 700 - the OfficeJet Pro 1150C.

The quality is absolutely wonderful. The reason it was cheaper is the plate is smaller at A4. The copier is quite small and can sit on my desk next to my computer. How I use it is rather strange - I put objects on it. I am writing a book on lucky charms and many charms are very small, so I put them on the colour copier, enlarge, reproduce and file these copies away. The alternative would be to go through the palaver of photographing them. I use the photocopier as a professional photographer uses instant snaps to get an idea of the picture.

Also as a painter I do a lot of colour sketches and, again, I can put those, or even small canvasses, on the copier for my own record. At the moment I have paintings on exhibition in Brussels and Antwerp, but before the gallery took them I made colour copies. It's not only insurance, it makes a record of the work. I have done one original work on the copier by placing objects on the plate to make a face. It was just a bit of fooling around. I have thought of arranging bits of colour paper on the plate like a Matisse - you could have one copy as an original or a 10-print limited edition.

My thoughts about technology is that the human brain is forever inventing new things and it has been doing this for thousands of years, ever since the first flint axe. Technology has enabled us to develop our culture. Every step we have taken with technology is the result of our most human quality - our enquiring mind. We have an inventive, child-like brain which is constantly playing with new ideas. And this is something that we should cherish.

Saying that, the one piece of technology I think is overrated is the mobile phone. This business of being always available is bad, it means you are never alone with your thoughts. It's too intrusive.

When I discovered computers were so wonderful, I was very extravagant and got a huge screen, the largest possible, nearly twice the size of an ordinary screen. I am on the Internet and use it for research. Obviously one double checks information from the Net.

I don't shop on the Internet because I feel that, the moment I put my card number into the machine, it's gone into the ether.

Anyone who thinks that all these new fangled things are leading us into trouble is being very stupid. Everything we develop can be used badly, but if the knife was invented for cutting up food, you can't say no to knives as someone might be stabbed. You can't let technology control you. In the end you have to take the risk.

I am totally in favour of every technological advance. I think anyone who is opposing it is really being incredibly short-sighted. But there is a secret: the technology must always be the servant, and never the master.

`An Exhibition of Desmond Morris' is currently at the Witteveen Gallery, Amsterdam

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