PHO705: Book Designer Meeting

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?

What else?

  • 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.

PHO705: Similar Works 1

Here is a first new blog post asking, “So where can others’ work be found that has some connection with my practice?”.

Apart from already established and earlier blog references in the PH704 module to Garry Fabian Millar and elsewhere in PH702 and PHO703 to Rachel Howard a revisit is made in advance of the Assignment: Critical Review of Practice.

Here is a single image only comparison from National Geographic (Greshko, 2018):

Photograph Richard Hammond

And my earlier effort in more sombre mood:

DNA Sequence Overlaid with mtDNA Trace
Photograph Michael Turner

I’ll be recreating this. The next version of this work will use my own genome. It was sequenced last year and is currently under my analysis for base-pair errors. This not something to go into too much as it gives insight into the potential for disease a look into the future. As a STEM graduate with expertise in Big Data, it is possible to interpret the science and in particular the data and start to follow scientific papers including on the topic of DNA mismatch (Stavenger, 2010).

It is clear now that the double helix is an idealised form. Due to coding errors the span of the ladder rungs changes while there is asymmetry in the strand thickness and weird folding occurs where molecules other than ACGT bases enter the sequence. There is a knotted effect.

My own connection with the National Geographic story is through working for the corporation that supported the computing for the Out of Africa project. This was an early project that traced the human genome back through eastern and western migration routes to Africa.

As blogged in an earlier post it is the same corporation that provided the infrastructure for the World Community Grid project and the reason for donating computing cycles to this from 2004 on Human Proteome Folding through to current day projects supporting computational biology research into cancer, Aids Zika virus and many more including ground water and other geographic analyses.

Bibliography

Greshko, M. (2018) How We’ve Tackled the Evolving Science of DNANational Geographic.

Stavenger, J. (2010) Mapping of Switch Recombination Junctions, a Tool for Studying DNA Repair Pathways during Immunoglobulin Class SwitchingScienceDirect.

PHO705: Week 15 Reflection

Now that was what is called busy. The connection with the University has re-established big time. There was a gap over November, December and January. To be fair there was the end of year “holiday” and the so-named 3 week assessment period – needed for the other Modules.

Thinking about this in reflection then, several group lectures were attended and there was the follow up from the previous week’s module leader one2one meeting that led to running a consistent aesthetic right across image set.

We also briefly held a peer to peer meeting, the first known of in several months. We’re a small cohort with 10 of 13 starters still around. Only 8 signed up for these meetings. A connection has also been made with a student from another cohort who was passed in my direction by a tutor.

There were also the preparations for a meeting with a book designer Victoria Forrest. All good as the work is interrelated and the key to the public showing. No images, no public showing. The research was toned down and research-led practice had been in full flow again this week.

So how did the book design session go? (rhetorical question). That’s in a separate post.

It was good and has focussed on incorporating one’s own genome. My DNA has been sequenced and has now been downloaded and is being analysed for transcription errors and an academic publication read on the topic. Although specific to kidney disease and with some reference to mice it was nevertheless useful to learn of the error rates, non-base insertion and the weird folding that results. In the mind’s eye the DNA spiral has an idealised representation. This reading gave the truth.

Anyway, the knowledge gives the photographer some deeper information to back up any talk that might follow?

Scanning became a big thing and a whole weekend was spent learning software SilverFast and i1 colour calibration. The reason for this is/was to up the level of professionalism in reusing family archive photographs. The current set I accessed needs to be rescanned. A hidden agenda exists too. The acquisition of a film scanner and darkroom gear means work can go back to film photography. This will now be after the FMP but it is an exciting development in photography. The Studio where I’m based (less so with these studies) is starting to run combined workshops on Landscape and Street film photography. I’m really pleased with this revival.

With so much digital practice and digital darkroom processing, it will be a relief to turn back to film.

Thinking ahead of the week there is the catch-up to be made on Video making and drafting of the Critical Review of Practice CRoP.

Such is the life that this blog post will need to be cut back as some of the activity reported falls into the Week 16 reflection, due in the next day or two.

So, all in all, a very rewarding and active time on the project with work changing rapidly at this point. Lots of connection with the University has been helpful while consuming more of that rare resource called time. Can’t win.

PHO705: Book Design

Having completed most of the research behind the project work is moving forward rapidly as more focus is gained and a single line of visual narrative / aesthetic is settled upon.

The previous work product for a Module Leader one to one session simply gathered together themes that had been evolved. With direction the rate at which outputs are created has increased.

In what follows there is a settling on the aesthetic of “charcoal on antique paper”. Here the aesthetic has extended across a set of evolved themes going into the book review.

After the review, the aesthetic has remained and the direction has been advised on:

  • drop abstracts with added newsreel stills
  • focus on DNA results for self
  • avoid any feminist reference as too hot a topic(?)*

It was decided that a book would be hand bound and advice was obtained on paper weight.

The focus would be as before (at the Summer exhibition), a set of 18 prints on 40×50 mounts, with a miniature exhibition in a box to take beyond the gallery setting. Notes were compared on box production.

From a recent talk by Victoria Forrest it was clear that time would be tight for a full book design and production phase. Whilst it is possible time would be a tight squeeze and the intention was anyhow to hand make the prints, book and boxed prints as artist materials. Past experience of making provided the proving ground. It should be possible to make all of these outputs.

Where time becomes a squeeze is in making supporting materials: contextualising video/moving stills, exhibition guide, online portfolio, marketing leaflets … busy, busy, busy.

Single Pages (scroll to view, hover and click to download)

PDF-for-VF-ver-0.1

Spreads (scroll to view, hover and click to download double page spreads).

PDF-for-VF-spreads-ver-0.1

note:

*“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed is female. Thus she turns herself into an object of vision: a sight.” (Berger, 1972) page 47.

In my work, men receive their energy-making biology from their mothers. Men are viewed as agents of women. More specifically Men as sons are agent to their mothers.

The stability of the genetic code of energy-giving (mtDNA) is key as is the male being blocked from passing this gene to their offspring. The theme is of a Mother-line.

Bibliography

Berger, J. et al. (1972) Ways of Seeing. re-issued. London, [England]. Available at: http://www.greenpenguin.co.uk.

PHO705: Guest Lecture (Publication) – Christiane Monarchi Part 2

Watch this Guest Lecture video and comment.

This is a lecture designed to help artists/photographers take their work forward and is based on experience in the art market and photography competitions.

The idea is to think of the product and object product quality. Lower quality can be of greater value. Long-lasting ink helps as does a small edition size where 3 might be better than 20 is unique. Start with low prices and grow with later editions after sell out.

Consider mounting so collectors can store as archival photographs and longevity affects price.

Another consideration is to prepare a statement for later to be condensed. Have own words ready to go.

It’s better to have updates on the website rather than separate CV. It is valid to have an interchange say with other students and record their interpretation of work. It is very different to only the artist’s own words and less emotional and personal.

Social media should be about you and promote others exhibitions. Link back to the website.

Advice from an RA talk was given. Then different types of gallery were classified.

In another part of the guest lecture consideration and advice was given over Competitions (and residencies) and of Collectives where people foster creativity and show together.

PHO705: Guest Lecture (Publication) – Christiane Monarchi Part 1

Watch this Guest Lecture video and comment.

Christiane set-up Photomonitor and explained how this was set-up from her getting involved in Pluck and Portfolio and a desire to find out what was on. across a range of areas over and above the large institutions. She would advise in how to set up a niche.

Gaps were found in the offerings of:

  • Art List – large institutions
  • Art Rabbit.com – global and no UK focus
  • New Exhibitions Guide – major mostly historic items
  • British Journal of Photography – stopped doing listings
  • Photoworks – annual, great read but infrequent

Christiane’s requirement was UK and Ireland centric, for artists and emerging writers and all in an up to date guide of what’s on now. Here need was to bring people to photography and go and see it, think about it and spread the word. All without ads and is free.

The result in 2011 was www.photomonitor.co.uk. From the front page, key links are the Portfolio link written by the artist rather than mediated, there are listings sometimes with reading more depending on the gallery and their subscription. There are Reviews including of live exhibitions. Interviews talking to artists. Essays that have been researched. Auctions cover smaller upcoming auctions. Collections are interviews. Book reviews cover self-published and large publishers.

Christiane encourages artists to take a break and listen to others.

In terms of making a publication the 5 Years’ statistics were given:

The right hand column draws funding and that pays for commissioning the items on the right as community members.

In summary there are many many opportunities to see work that is shared.

Commissioned pieces are paid at 20p a word to a maximum as a budget constraint. 500 words on a screen are practical.

Commissioning is wider than London covering Wales and Ireland. Timeliness is key as mentioned to get people to the exhibitions. Social media is important for sharing.

t: @photomonitor

Christiane talked about potential for growing Photomonitor including into streaming of live audience talks.

Some Inspiring Platforms were listed:

Anyone with new ideas is encouraged to get in contact.

Response to Online Publication.

It is always exciting to see the smaller business venture establish itself and succeed. Any personal involvement would be to read Photomonitor and assess how it stands alongside say for example, major gallery memberships.

The online element is approached as a Portfolio website and as Instagram for marketing (planned) not to mention this blog site created for the MA Photography course.

There is still more to discover in Part 2 of Christiane’s guest lecture.