PHO705: Visual Language of DNA Testing

There are different commercial services that provide DNA testing connected with ancestry. One service is mentioned here as they have an option to have a personalised book and that fits well with researching visual language of DNA. Two services were inspected:

This is a continuation of earlier research. It looks at a specific book product of commercial DNA testing. The idea is to gain awareness of public perceptions around DNA by examining the visual language used by a company promoting DNA testing.

This current phase of research is prompted by the order and eventual arrival of a personalised analysis “Your DNA Adventure” (LivingDNA, 2019).

The content is predicated on three types of DNA we possess.

  • Family Ancestry (autosomal DNA)
  • Motherline Ancestry (mtDNA)
  • Fatherline Ancestry (Y-DNA)

As the photo project majors on the Motherline (a term now preferred to matriarchy as it softens potential for feminist bias.

The motherline is highly stable over thousands of years and once a change does occur it is passed down to descendants. The top-level term used is Haplogroup within which exist Subclades.

Descriptive language then takes over preventing opaqueness and is a strategy noted elsewhere for keeping others engaged.

There is a very good reference section to explore.

Within the publication the visual themes range across:

  • trees on African savanna (covers)

Note: The visual references are probably best viewed as a publication rather than my translate to text here.

Bibliography

LivingDNA (2019) Michael Turner – Your DNA Adventure.

PHO705: Guest Lecture Alex Bailey

The video can be found here.

Alex is a Commercial Photographer working over several decades on marketing and publicity for film and television.

He described how this work is delineated and gave examples of commissioned work, a concept sheet and a mood board.

As we as students have learned to do, Alex for the first time was faced with making a presentation of; his own influences; what brought him to photography and which book and photographic names encouraged him to become a Commercial photographer, one who brings his own artistic integrity.

Key aspects of career had been: the opening up of the closed shop practices that existed prior to the Thatcher political era, and the impact of the transition to digital on technical and business practice.

The practicalities of commercial practice were illuminated. The passion Alex has for his subject is clear.

Personally, what was said resonated clearly with some fairly recent education on the film industry. This industry is active in the local region around London.

Copious notes were taken. I shan’t dwell on this lecture even though it was thoroughly enjoyed as a contrasting practice to my own. Seeing Alex’s work and getting such insight into his contrasting practice was a great help in understanding my own practice.

PHO705: Week 10 Reflection

Week 10 completed whilst still getting over the after-effects of flu.

Another research week (with some photographs post-processed).

Research into Biology has somewhat taken priority.

Reading continues with Photography and the Optical Unconscious (Smith, 2017).

There remains a backlog of reading material with Phantasmagoria (Warner, 2006); The Weird and the Eerie (Fisher, 2016), Memory of Place (Trigg, 2013); the Body Keeps the Score (Kolk, 2015).

Competition between themes meant a switch for Phenomenology to mtDNA. Time did need to be spent on visual research of mtDNA. There is a need to switch back to the Phenomenological in Week 11.

There is a growing need to further develop photographs in the digital darkroom if work is to be shown. The last update was in PHO705: Week 9 Reflection.

Bibliography

Miller, A. I. (2014) Colliding Worlds – How Cutting-Edge Science is Redefining Contemporary Art. New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company. Available at: http://www.wwnorton.

Smith, S. M. and Sliwinski, S. (2017) Photography and the Optical Unconscious. eBook. Chicago, US: Duke University Press. Available at: https://lccn.loc.gov/2016048393.

Backlog

Fisher, M. (2016) The Weird and the Eerie. London, [England]: Repeater Books. Available at: https://www.repeaterbooks.com.

Kolk, B. Van Der (2015) The Body Keeps the Score Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Penguin. Great Britain: Penguin Random House UK. Available at: http://www.greenpenguin.co.uk.

Trigg, D. (2013) The Memory of Place A Phenomenology of the Uncanny. Athens: Ohio University Press. Available at: http://www.ohioswallow.com.

Warner, M. (2006) Phantasmagoria Spirit Visions, Metaphors and Media into the Twenty-first Century. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

PHO705: Guest Lecture (Publication) – Sarah Davidmann (Uncut)

Sarah is a lecturer at London’s LCC

Here is the lecture. The main photographic project is based on letters between sisters over a hidden relationship that of a secret transgender female Ken married to one of the sisters known as aunt Hazel. All this was at a time when there was no recognition or language to frame identities.

Identity was sympathetically dealt with and Ken becomes K(ay) and her or she.

There is a book “Ken – to be destroyed”. This began as a small personal project but created an unexpected level of interest. The conversation led to working on the project and exhibiting in Liverpool. There were uncertainties from gaps in the texts.

Sarah found more including family photographs. As she worked with the materials this led to working physically in the darkroom as a natural extension of handling physical materials. The working with a family archive was a first for Sarah.

The work is robust having nowadays a universal message of identity. The work presents well as small groups of images and as a book.

The book was a collaboration with Val Williams who helped with the edit that combined family archive material with Sarah’s work. Working collaboratively proved very useful.

Both Sarah and today’s host began their artistic lives as painters.

The personal aspects were seen to be of interest to audiences. There is a universality of family with all the problems family present that viewers can insert themselves into.

Another aspect of the German Jewish family is the next piece of work. It is still, based on family history but now covers the Holocaust. The project is approached from a very personal perspective and in an intimate way. An album carried on the Kindertransport is a material source for this new work.

Final Photo Project

Sarah’s project was allowed to develop and that is important compared to planning exactly how the work should be from the outset.

A point in common is the use of family archive photographs. High-resolution scanning, alternative processing of the images and concentrating on the surface condition are strong elements of Sarah’s work. Obliteration of identity became a step in which aunt was translated into clothing only or into the uncle.

This compares with using the photos for the final photo project which are scanned for smaller size reproduction. The idea was not to overwhelm the abstract images at the core of the project. Recently one image from the archive was layered with an image of mitochondrial glow and connecting thus with an ancestor from the maternal line. This has a key significance.

The history of a family is also common as is the impact of 20th-century war.

Bibliography

Photographs Sarah Davidmann from Falmouth Guest Lecture