“Photography is a tool to negotiate our idea of reality. Thus it is the responsibility of photographers to not contribute …
I am often asked where I situate my practice in the art and science collaboration model and what aspects of the dynamics between the disciplines entreat me – the answer is complex. Firstly, both disciplines share an innate curiosity about the world – making them ideal partners despite different approaches – the scientist’s rigour and protocols versus the artist’s experimental wanderings and emotional uptake.
Secondly, the tension in the attempt by scientist’s to abnegate the personal, to make their research objective, is interesting and worthy of respect. Theoretical physics acknowledges that the role of the observer influences what is seen and that an amount of subjectivity is apparent. The reason this construct is fascinating is that it complicates the amount of reality out there. As a firm believer that multiple realities exist for each individual, and that there is no other truth or reality outside of us, then the scientist’s challenge for objectivity is viewed as an intriguing conundrum.
“The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility”.
Einstein, A. ‘Physics and Reality’, Journal of the Franklin Institute
Photographic artist Susan Derges is also interested in the idea of abnegation when investigating the natural world and how by trying to remove oneself from the process it might reveal a true reality. She captures unseen moments through infinitesimal fragments that build to illustrate images with an otherworldliness quality. Her practice is nocturnal – harnessing the darkness and the river as her study and photographic processing lab. An aluminium slide complete with photographic paper is submerged just below the surface of the river, and then a micro-second flash above renders a photographic transparency. The flow and dynamics of the river is imprinted transposing the river’s own viewpoint from below. The colour in each image is dictated by the nature of the ambient light present at the time of shooting. These truly beautiful and inspiring studies can be seen at http://www.susanderges.com/
Giles Revell also employs photographic techniques to communicate natural wonders. He builds up multiple images of creatures like insects then layers them to create finely crafted two-dimensional works with strong three-dimensional qualities. The results, like Derges’ work, delivers scientific outputs highly charged with ethereal overtones transforming them from cold diagnostic renderings to captivating works of art that embrace both art and science. http://gilesrevell.com/projects/insects/
A lush green, velvet carpet is draped over the Earth and with the increase in the planet’s temperatures this verdant cover is growing. Higher temperatures, more carbon dioxide and more rainfall is stimulating photosynthesis and creating a proliferation of plants – scientists call this process ‘CO2 fertilisation effect’. There is debate over the exact cause of this verdant spread and if it can counter consequences of global warming.
From a layman’s viewpoint this sounds great news – more plants – more beauty – more food – healthier air and so on – may be the planet warming isn’t so bad after all????
Photograph taken in Dujiangyan, China 2013
Where does my body end?
When do my bodily excretions and deposits, both those visible and those unseen, not stay mine?
The boundaries between the world and ourselves are not as distinct as some imagine, for we constantly leave traces of our presence – a unique calling card – to be discovered. The characteristics of these deposits manifest differently; including the obvious as in excrement, the discreet but still clearly tangible as in hair (one loses about fifty hairs a day), ear wax or skin flakes and the less visibly defined in saliva and sweat. What spray of microscopic human detritus explodes from a scratch?
Who owns these ‘sheddings’ – the imprints of ourselves?
Each shed particle is loaded with DNA – blood and semen are DNA rich with every millilitre containing 30,000 nanaograms whilst saliva contains a tenth of that. Perspiration leaves 11.5 nanograms per millilitre of DNA on a touched object, which is enough to identify a person. These abandon traces are obviously highly valuable evidence for the forensic scientist in his quest to uncover the hidden passages of people’s lives.
From a legal, ethical and philosophical position are these parts still us and if so who owns them?
Image shows a dust particle on a synthetic carpet magnified 3000 times using a scanning electron microscope at University of Central Lancashire – who does it belong to?
Birds nests are generally amazing structures, (regular readers will know of my fascination with this particular shelter as a symbol of home – see other ‘Home’ posts) but all are eclipsed by those made by Philetairus socius – the sociable weaver bird who builds gigantic communal nests from sticks and grass. If there are no trees around, as demonstrated in this shot of the Kalahari Desert, then telegraph poles will make adequate substitutes for this little feathered creature. The structures can last for decades with generations of weaver birds, often around a hundred pairs in a nest, harmoniously living together including sharing the raising of young. The avian shelters are designed to adapt to the extremes of desert temperatures by having a thick thatched roof to screen out the scorching sun, whilst able to retain heat through the cold nights.
This wonderful photograph is by Dillon Marsh – please follow the link to see an insightful record of life in southern Africa by this interesting photographer.
Catherine Nelson has just been awarded the distinguished title of
Photographer of the Year in the 2013 AX3 – American Aperture Awards.
See more of her extraordinary work http://catherinenelson.net/index.php
A gorgeous and dreamy view of the world!
I found out about Catherine’s art through following CLIMARTE who harnesses the creative power of the Arts to inform, engage and inspire action on climate change. Find out more at http://climarte.org/
Thanks to the site below I stumbled upon the haunting and touching art of Alexandra Gallagher who is currently showing at the Saatchi Gallery, London.
This exhibition by renowned artist and fellow book contributor Catherine Bertola will be wonderful – all her work smoulders – hinting at a latent narrative.
My mind is drawn to all things avian at present as I research feathers as part of my work for the new sculpture Obsession. The photograph below I took today whilst walking my dog by our local canal in Ulverston, Cumbria. The dark water imposing a strange aura almost illuminating the delicate feather.
My research includes studying the structure of feathers. This apparently simple object is extraordinary in its complexity and therefore worthy of sharing with you. The wonder of the web provides the following illustrations that explain better than words the intricacies of the anatomy of feathers.