With an eye on commercialising art, the following is from AffinityDNA (AffinityDNA, 2020). This blog post demonstrates the contemporary and growing economic aspect of this genre allied to my photography. Perhaps by marketing photography, it could pay for the cost of the studies. Currently, there is communication taking place with another major DNA testing supplier on an introductory and more mundane level perhaps.
DNA Art Portraits
Display your DNA fingerprint as a unique personalised piece of genetic artwork! DNA art portraits from only £179
In terms of context this offering is available amongst other tests:
The exercise using word clouds worked/is working well according to the intended outcome and as such is being developed into another technological sphere of artsci known as Generative Design (Bohnacker, 2012) and the update (Gross, 2018). We are now at an intersection with computing.
Generative Art practice has a returned and is being made part of my MA Photography. The above image is one of the ghost pictures that arose from healing photography. It uses a graphics or more specifically a font from pixel values technique and is created with the lyrics of Robert Burns song, A Man’s a Man for A’ That. (Burns, 1795).
Bohnacker, H., Gross, B. and Laub, J. (2012) Generative Design Visualise, Program, and Create with Processing. English tr. Edited by C. Lazzeroni. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Available at: www.papress.com.
This week saw another Guest Lecture take place this time with Paul Clements Photojournalist.
GCC – Module Leader
There was also a Group Guest Critique GCC with the Module Leader and for some reason, probably to do with timing and project evolution the meeting was very much appreciated. A welcome relief.
I was able to announce the intended exhibition visit of a Contemporary Photographic Editor who I am pleased to have volunteered to take a new job with that is waiting until June. This is as a proofreader for a Contemporary Photography Journal. My earlier offer of managing a related ISSUU electronic magazine was something the photographic group couldn’t wait 8 months for and one of my colleagues from a group photographic project took it on. What this says is that the chosen attendee is someone I’d hope to work with.
The course remains the top priority above all else other than the mortal deeds and close relationships. The reason for reflecting on this is to demonstrate to anyone thinking of doing a course such as the Falmouth MA Photography that even at 10-hour study plus 10 hours photographic practice per week, it requires a high level of commitment. My admiration goes to those able to deliver at this level such as is likely of the really talented artist of whom there are many examples on our course. For me, I hail from STEM education and associated career and often worked from a blank sheet of paper through to architected solutions and adapt my experience to the MA.
During the week attention turned to the facsimile / portable exhibition and a small sense of pride resulted from taking printable cardboard and making a dummy box. Printing the guides at A4 resulted in a miniature of only 2’x3′
An estimated card stock size of between A3 and A2 would be required. The 2″x3″ dimensions are only external for the pictured dummy box. The final box needs to be double the size to accommodate side-by-side mounted miniatures.
Size didn’t matter for the dummy as the intent was to work out the printed surfaces, the orientation of the print surfaces, the glue points and the folding sequence. An overall feel for how sturdy the box would be for the given card stock was also confirmed.
There is the other matter of now the box construction is would be feasible, how is it to be decorated? The theme of own DNA or historic archive? Design decisions need to be made.
Recombinant Rhymes was an ArtSci feature on the radio that I’ve adapted to my project to aid context building.
A revisit was made to the literary element of adding contextualising text, specifically a list of dictionary entries for words that contain the base pair letters A, C, G and T.
Perhaps there is scope for extending individual words by concordance perhaps using SketchEngine (SketchEngine, 2020) to expand the text.
On the one hand, this can be categorised as being overly smart which detracts from communication but then again it does allow context to be built and we (I certainly do) know how important context building can be to a visual project especially in the surreal abstract.
Video (and Music)
Music was composed for a Ghost theme feature after a visit to a store that demonstrated the GarageBand music composition software.
A further video has been storyboarded as a follow on to a successful showing at the Summer Exhibition.
This post surprisingly is about layering and effects as it is starting to become late in the day for further development. Finished work will be required imminently.
Follow-on Work from Book Design Meeting
The meeting with book designer Victoria Forrest had taken the direction towards using own genomic data. A 700,000 sample of the human genome from my own test results has been downloaded and secured. It remains to decide how and how far to extend its use and this could be via layering as in three examples created to date.
Great grandmother and boy outdoor portrait with glow image overlapped
Grandmother posed by rock with glow image and DNA base pair layering
A tablet of DNA base pairs overlaid on mono glow image.
Other possibilities are an illustrative option for use for example to add content to a facing page. The theme can either punctuate change or run continuously. This compares with amending each work created to date to incorporate base pairs.
The DNA test data contains autosomal, Y-DNA and mtDNA data. Apparently the test no longer lead to the latter two being made available.
Themes and Use of Effects
Some of the image themes within the overall project lead to the possibility of going to the next level of visual presentation by working with Adobe After Effects. Specifically the Ghost persons themes work well with Spotlight enhancement with motion. Music has also been composed for this. The overall production should be very emotive. However much this is lining up as the next evolution of this work, it kind of was dropped from the project scope for now.
Another thematic element is the use of Effects alongside the inner/outer space visuals or cellular portrayal falling under the heading of Pan Cellular Ex Cellular – all cells are made from cells a reference to the DNA transcription process that enables life and link made to the past.
The cellular theme is ripe for working in Adobe After Effects with Trapcode Particular from Red Giant. Practice in this domain as part of a course or courses completed in advance of the this Falmouth MA Photography course.
For now, this blog post has to be limited to a record of strong intent as expansion into 3D and VFX must not detract from the Assignments. Keep to the plan and the timeline for now.
This blog post refers to the idea of taking the work outside of the white cube exhibition space, using facsimile mounted prints in a display box.
It was recommended at the Arles critique last year that a new box is made and while open to the idea, it was decided to investigate. This was done by researching the methods for making a clamshell and flip lid boxes.
Having handmade a box in the past it has been clear how much of a challenge such a simple intention can become. Research has been conducted and shows a range of techniques from simple paper folding through to the use of guillotine and cast iron press.
There are many minor considerations that affect the construction and finish – tiny triangular nicks and unexpected cuts and folds to cover corner spaces and raised section to keep out light and dust. This is quite an enterprise. The tooling is an expensive consideration as is attending a centre such as London Book Arts.
So what about drawing on the resources of a firm that offers custom made boxes. The factors come into play are cost etc. At a 5,000 piece run the box I’d need would be approximately £1 per box. That’s too many boxes and too high an outlay. At a single box the cost is £50 – it is almost better re-ordering the original DNA test kit.
To show how subtle the flip-top box is to make a PDF design has been attached:
While the focus of late has been on writing the Critical Review of Practice and on ‘plussing’ the visuals, this post relates to a switch back to the public presentation of the work.
Switching tasks like this may be less efficient than running each task to completion. Professional development of photographic work might call on multiple resources, but here for the MA Photography, the author becomes or has become the sole resource for all of the work.
Collaboration practised as a professional specialism has yet to flow into the making process, so it has become quite a busy time. Considering research turned to image-making only a month ago then a lot of ground has been covered.
The making in the digital darkroom had been akin to the process of creating a painting. Now with the change of methodology and processing, the mental task of visualising and the way time is consumed is closer to photographic sculpture.
A National Portrait Gallery Friday evening drawing session attended last year, was conducted with white pencil on black paper, the process of observation and drawing likened to making sculpture.
Guest Group Critique
In presenting the work it was noted how exciting the development of the project has become and how this easily extends the work beyond the time available to us on this MA Photography course. With practice development, the project is likely to undergo further extension and presentation beyond May 2020. It is very exciting at this stage
A minor comment was the all-important selection of the sans serif Granville light font for use in the book and in the PDFs – the Critical Review of Practice assignment PDF and the book PDF hand-in.
As for the work shown in the critique an original InDesign file was shown having evolved through a one to one session, to the recent book designer session, to the subsequent splitting out of themes into individual files and finally and importantly the addition of more new work.
The project had all along used but now re-presented as having a trace of author’s DNA both as glow and as a graphic sequence.
There was a call to make a model in order to experiment with the layout of images. This would be more of a demonstration or proof exercise. In practice, the author has ongoing access to the studio/exhibition space and so does not require the intermediate step of modelling layouts. In an earlier module, a summer exhibition was held in the same space over a period of 8 days, it will be four days this time.
What is different this time is that access has been gained to the material for constructing exhibition walls from a stand kit. In a one, to one review the author was advised to set this aside, for an unexplained reason. It would be easy advice to take as it makes life easier. It is felt that there was a misunderstanding in communication via the online medium used.
Style, Paper and Framing
The critique was missing much in the way of content as the reviewer needed to see actual prints in front of them. The previous comment was of the look of charcoal on antique paper and was an accurate description of the aesthetic. This is produced both as an adjusted filter and is reproduced as a homemade PS action.
The vignetted borders were said to act against normal framing methods and would require consideration.
A test print was made a little while ago, was on matte paper and set out on the surface of the stock off white mount board used in the Summer exhibition. It all went together well.
There was a call to make a pile of prints as the quality can be more readily viewed and prints allow the order and sequencing to be done. This is an imminent action.
The project is the same one from the start of the course and has recently taken on more of the surreal. As image making began little more than one month ago the thrust has been towards image-making to gain images in sufficient numbers, higher than in the past with quality and with enough spares to support an 18 image exhibition and a book.
From recombinant DNA and an artsci process of creating poetry. A decision was made to discover all or as many dictionary words as possible containing base pair letters A, C, G and T together. In order to form two or three-word crossword sections, words were gathered into themes.
There are sufficient range and sophistication of meanings linked to the work as photographic, biological and socio-political. The book would be expanded with facing blank pages set to contain word pairs or triples. No rhymes are intended.
A simpler approach is the word cloud.
A variation might be to take advantage of scale in order to emphasise selected words. Chosen words correspond with a facing image. The method can be used with my DNA results in two cases; autosomal and mtDNA
The Autosomal DNA chromosomes 1-22 are over 99% identical to all other human beings. Above are the mismatch errors in a 600,000 sample from 1.3 trillion base pairs in each DNA strand.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) samples for the author scaled by position in the DNA chain. mtDNA exists within the female line, is passed on to offspring female and male offspring and is very very stable. By remaining constant for thousands of years it easily spans the century of ancestors to whom the author identifies with. The Past Present.
The forthcoming Vision 2020 Symposium and gathering at Falmouth University would have been a great opportunity to unveil the prints. However, the finite risk from the current virus spread and attending an international conference, combined with having caught a virus three times last year, making attendance undesirable.
A social media campaign is planned and the first post made on social media using Instagram account foto_graphical. An Easter exhibition has been announced with the title: Past-Present.
Strands are coming together in consistent form.
The advice given to another student was not to go overboard in obtaining practitioner input. A note I’d sent in earlier indicated that one remote critique was booked in, while a contemporary journal editor had responded as a potential attendee. A multi-genre, multi-award-winning professional had also volunteered to comment. Three others are on the back burner, so perhaps this is what was meant as going overboard – two of the three are recognised, art photographers.
Two recent GLs were attended. The first related to online dating and second-hand wedding dresses the second GL looked at life in an eastern European country under what was effectively martial law.
One to One – Critical Review of Practice
There was also a Supervisor session that turned activity on its head in changing direction from project development to one of the main deliverables, the Critical Review of Practice. It mattered not that anticipatory work had begun as nothing of a deliverable standard was yet available. A previous mention was made about having to make a late start this task due to circumstances beyond normal control.
The CRoP task has a dependency on the planned exhibition as that is where the behind the scenes shots are to be obtained and practitioner critical comment received.
The work that was progressed was made to the drumbeat of “No work – no exhibition – no book” etc.
A session was conducted to split the overall InDesign file into themes:
ghost images of people
narratives of biology around cell division
This is not to mention subdivision into individual Surreal images, and Animals. There are also Ancestral Family Archive images to restore and reprocess as own DNA (base pairs) and glow image.
A lot of this is still in the melting pot as it is a natural development stage as an image set forms, plus there are influences from the book designer session.
There has been some reaching out to practitioners in advance of the Exhibition.
Print is becoming a more imminent activity. A preliminary decision is required over further tests of print making using the matte paper stock.
To create atmosphere, work on a video storyboard was started but somewhat frustratingly dropped, for now, to give precedence to the Critical Review of Practice.
We had privileged access to Book Designer Victoria Forrest in a group session. It was useful for me although I’m erring towards a handbound artist book dummy and an exhibition in a box, a repeat of a successful approach from tyhe summer exhibition.
So what was learned:
focus on my DNA – I’d downloaded it pivoted it and searched it for transcription errors. It is an interesting error rate. There is some research out there about various diseases and these kinds of errors. My genome is good though as it is 99% shared with other human beings.
there’s the work I mentioned before on making visuals from base-pair sequences. As mentioned, there is a legal requirement to look after the genome data for my own protection and that of my offspring. Dry data is a bit too graphic for my liking but can be made to work by skilful handling. I prefer it as a blank verso decoration. Too much of it will be samey or overwhelmingly and potentially take away from the visuals I reckon.
develop an offshoot of an artistic work recombinant rhymes. My take is I’ve gathered all the words containing a letter A, C G and T (base pair letters in DNA) and pick salient words in pairs or threes to describe a context around the project (photography, Great War, etc. but the layout of a crossword puzzle element.
don’t associate with the Berger quote I made for being too inflammatory. Very strange on a Visual Arts course that the subject of reversing Berger’s observation should seem difficult. Surely art should challenge its own foundations. There is nothing illegal that couldn’t be published and after all, why waste a founding pillar and key inspiration to my work?
something on paper gsm was answered 300 gsm is too much and 175gsm is preferred
mtDNA is something Victoria is comfortable understanding but leave it out in preference to using own genome work
Victoria wanted to know details of my method of making. Seemed a bit cheeky a question in a public forum but unless the person you are working with really knows your work how can it be successful?
That was it in a nutshell, and very good considering five students were on in under two hours. Victoria must have been exhausted by us but thank you.
The choice of font for FMP submission remains firm as Granville Light. A return to inspect the style after a cooling-off period only confirms this. The use of a Typography Insight App allowed a detailed comparison with a standard sans serif font. The Granville Light style is very much being enjoyed.
Time has been spent researching san serif fonts for the FMP assignments and two fonts have shortlisted and have been installed and are being trialled:
Both fonts are very clear and Granville is being preferred on several counts including style which is more apparent on the lower case letters f and t, but also for being from a French designer at a Paris foundry given the project theme of loss in the Great War. The slight dagger-like flourishes in the lowercase letters f and t, also act as a metaphor for me as references to the Dirk and the Sgian Dubh, sheathed pointed daggers carried in Scottish national dress.
I won’t install the Granville font in this blog but provide a PDF example here:
Looking at this example a reservation emerges to do with font width, even as something that makes it more readable. Is it too wide? The answer becomes clear when the font is viewed at the required 1.5 line spacing where indeed it looks fresh and clean as seen in th ePDF above.
Two items have been held up pending 10 weeks of illness then need to create portfolio work.
These are the Video that should have been made over the break and the Critical Review of Practice CRoP.
These have been taken together, but oddly manage to support the work. The following PDF is the mind map. A CRoP is a CRoP but it has to be about something so the overview of working practice and methodology is given as a mind map. The CRoP requirement (or part of) has been mapped onto it and requires further development like issuing a draft. However, there is some referencing to other practitioners still in research. Despite having this for earlier incarnations of the work (in earlier study Modules) the work has progressed on so time for the update.
To an extent I can argue about originality and a need to mask off external influences as the work is quite unique in its standing as a branch of Art based on Science. As blogged previously I’m never surprised anymore to find original thought crop up in other places of which two examples could be cited.
Top left hand in the mind map is the Critical Review of Practice from an earlier module assignment.
The bottom left hand is a storyboard outline for a useful video resource that is being created. (This proved very helpful to visitors to the summer exhibition).
Above this is the connection to the CRoP linked to Ghost Abstract Figurative Themes. While Ghosts per se have been dropped since the review with a book designer, the landscapes remain ghost images.
Practice location top right is the piece being updated for this dynamic project. It does need to settle down urgently prints, book, portable exhibition and talk to be worked on.
There is quite a challenge here as none of the work has been subcontracted to printers or anyone else so all of the skills from the photography through to all branches of making have been absorbed and this alongside all of the marked assignment work. For anyone wishing to embark on an MA Photography Course they may wish to consider how much work to outsource to specialists. Personally, outsourcing the Book making to an online offering is not preferred over an artists book dummy and hiring a book designer would lose some of the original intent to someone else’s view of what the market would stand. The work is still too dynamic for this.
Bottom right is the remainder of the CRoP assignment requirement, which pertains to the public showing.
In terms of evidencing the work as mentioned here in an FMP lecture video then on the subject of gaining public feedback, there is a need to reach out to practitioners to elicit attendance or somehow provide comment on the work.
I now have a date of the Easter Weekend for showing the work over four days at Amersham Studios tradesecrets.live Only now can approaches be made by reaching out.
As image-making is fundamental and has been a major focus, work has been flooding forward and is now starting to receive critique (two critiques were missed through technology issues).
There is scope for an earlier pop-up exhibition at the same location. No promises yet. Details will be published and a campaign run via Instagram account foto_graphical and Facebook.