PHO701: Week 11 Introducing Proposal and Audience

Aid to Understanding Genetic Relations:

Genetics can be a very complex area to grasp. In light of this difficulty, I reference a BBC documentary on the subject.
I watched it several times over a few years back. In video form it provides an explanation of genetics in action as a body under constant invasion, acting in defence and under repair.

Here also for anyone interested is Wolfram Alpha (a web page – there is also an app) showing how to calculate genetic relationships in this example for my:

great granduncle genetic relation

Click the link, wait for the computation and click more for genetic detail. This has examples and you are invited if you wish to select other relations and compute these.

Original post:

Hello, I’m back again and on my quest to catch up as the course is starting to go well again. I’ve ditched some troublesome IT equipment that was causing me to spend a lot of time resolving technical issues. Many of these were deep and blocked progress. Faults from overheating computer eliminated, I could start on the content of the course.

I guess some students will have found a project that evolves and runs quite nicely. I started off with firm ideas but had these shaken at the foundations. Criticism came from various angles: of photographic theory and academic or general worth.

I make commemorative historical work on my relatives, the Cosh brothers who fought and died in the Great War. The Cosh’s still underpins my work, which has taken on a new direction in:

A) analysing DNA connection. DNA brings a great deal of focus on my father as a living manifestation of these people past. Regards my siblings, in particular, my sisters have a percentage chance of relation, which I do not have. Such is the nature of human biology.

B) in connection with this a strong theme in the Cosh story is of wounding and injury, repair, and dusting down, and going back into battle as many did. I’ve taken this theme and have begun establishing family member DNA analysis and seek to photograph the beauty of our bodily repair mechanism. I then make abstract expressionistic art from the photographs. I shall place these alongside some original photographic work to give contextualisation.

C) in doing this work on behalf of others, I considered my own connection. The Cosh’s are directly in my father’s genetic line. To make my photographic imagery more pertinent, I turned to the maternal ancestral line. I sought out descendant males on my mother’s side. Those again who fought in the Great War. This maintains consistency, and now makes me, in living flesh, a manifestation of these people.

If I am to shake my father’s hand, I am connecting with the last living expression I know of the Cosh brothers. And now my own body biology is not unique within my siblings, an expression of the soldiers and their stories in my Maternal line.

What began perhaps naïvely as a parallel to commando comic portrayal of military endeavour has taken on a more profound significance. My surprise has been the whole aspect of diaspora and the uniting effect this work has on family members, and this has grown in importance.

Of course, my family are an audience for this work, and through the tentative connection, the Black Watch (Highland Regiment) Association has expressed an educational interest, particularly in the academic narrative. There are distant relatives, more connected than I, who migrated to Buffalo, New York State at the beginning of the 20th century, ahead of the war. As they remain unknown to me, there is potential outreach to them.

Finally, though there is a broader educational standpoint on genetics. The technicalities of mitochondrial DNA and X chromosome can be challenging to understand at times. My visual project now serves to illustrate how others might seek out living connection to events in their past. I recognise that many like to leave the past in the past. Personally, I have gained a deep emotional connection with the past. Outcomes within my family, my diaspora, are that of healing and helps us understand who we are and what makes us what we are today.

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