Wednesday, 19 July 2017


A new exhibition of work created as part of the residency - there are a number of images hanging in the shared area on level 3 of the Maxwell Centre. The images have been made during a residency within NanoTechDTC and start to explore a number of issues; the question of what science looks like, how scientific concepts and lab processes are communicated through subconscious hand gestures whilst in the lab, and mapping the seemingly disregarded by making the unseen visible. The process of working within the labs and engaging with research students has generated a body of new artwork which has been informed by the engagement with nanotechnology. A series of ongoing interventions within the space has generated discussion, presented new possibilities and ways of thinking. The project has recognised similarities, explored possible confluence and developed connections by researching and deconstructing the physical and theoretical concerns of scientists working in the nanotechnology field within the framework of a fine artist practice.
When working within science one is confronted by the phenomena that is the laboratory, it is a completely controlled, managed environment. Every aspect including light levels, moisture content and dust particulates is monitored. Entering through an air shower, wearing head to toe specialist clothes one becomes conscious of one's body; every action is considered and in some way constricted. But the mind is free to wander. Within the laboratory there is the glove box, we have all encountered them in the media. They reference fear and science in the same sentence. Arms are forced into rubber gloves within a sealed box that enables the operator to work with  samples. The space attempts to be a 'non space' that is neutral and repeatable, in which the controlled factors enable the focus of activity to be on the samples, the actual science worked on.  
The artist studio is traditionally a space of making and the gallery of displaying conclusions, so the laboratory/gallery correlation is not an exact match, but I started to think about the parallels that these spaces have.

The white box of the gallery is a physical and conceptual space that attempts to enable viewers to see art without restrictions or connections. It's function is to neutralise the materiality of the space, to enable the focus to be on the work, to place art at the centre. For outsiders entering a gallery it must be a similar experience to gallery goers entering a laboratory. The rituals seem obscure and indecipherable and the space unfamiliar, what do you do in here? How do you perform? Is there a right way to do this?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


The first major hang of work is up. The work is in the corridors in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy building. I am really pleased with how it looks both as work in itself but also how it changes and is changed by the space. The way in which the sequences and groups have been hung start to enable narratives to form in the mind, my favorite moment of the day was watching one scientist explain and then discussing the work with another scientist. A real success. There are a range of approaches to crystallography explored within the body of work from symmetry, stereographic projection to direct phase. A big thanks to Duncan Johnson for helping to make the work of hanging an inspiring and fun experience....

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


working on a body of work with the 3D printing. There is a film that uses the impossible object that was 3D printed. The film focuses on the shadow made from the object whilst it is manipulated in the hands. meanwhile preparations for the extensive hang on Friday are moving forward. creating sequence layouts for the different corridors, folding clear plastic for the boxes to hold the objects, printing the posters and testing 'stickiness' of various tapes. It will be great to see the work completed and available for others to see.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


As a number of strands within the project come towards some form of conclusion I've been thinking about technology readiness levels in science and how it may or may not relate to the world of art. There are a number of issues to consider, namely around intention, the object's relationship to an audience and the concept of 'finishedness'.  TR1 might be all about thinking and collecting ideas, sometimes these are revelations but they mainly come about through hard work. Evidence of this would be found in the note or sketchbook. TR2 is more thinking and an agreement in your mind with the 'inner you' that it's okay to work on it, is it a valid activity to engage in further?  TR3 Could be focused on telling other people about your idea and discussing possibilities of the subject within the context of other people's practice and the art world as a whole. TR4 Material testing in the studio of the various elements or parts of a piece, this is alongside the notion of developing an individual practice.TR5 A whole artwork is now created, elements of how each part functions with other elements or pieces of the work is tested and it is determined a success. This is based on a set of conscious or subconscious notions or criteria depending on how you work as an artist. TR6 First piece is made, this could be the end of the process but if an artist wants to connect with an audience or further develop their practice more work is to be made. TR7 could be where a body of work is created based on an initial idea or research path. TR8 This makes me think about the role of the exhibition, the work is now out there in the world and engaging with a public speaking for itself. TR9 is a practice, a continuum of the whole process which enables an individual to make the next piece of work.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


a morning of printing more images that explore projections - trying to make the two colours work together is a challenge alongside looking at some more complex tessellation and symmetrical patterns. The poster looks good as well as explaining some of the ideas behind the work. Combining art and science concepts is a challenge but talking about the work from two places enables a third to emerge.

text for poster with clarity from Duncan 
unfolding thinking
As part of a residency with the Nano Doctorial Training Centre I have been exploring concepts of structure in materials down to the atomic scale and creating artwork inspired by the practicalities of revealing nanoscale structure using electron microscopy.
I encountered the idea of using the scattering electrons to obtain evidence of nanoscale structure in a material within an introductory practical held for first year NanoDTC students looking at the interpretation of electron diffraction patterns and images, acquired using a transmission electron microscope.
Initially, I was interested in the use of symmetry within crystallography as a tool for defining, for creating a taxonomy for atomic structure. But the mapping of a structure to a measurable signal, a diffraction pattern or image, captured my interest with the idea that physical laws provide a route to determine an unknown structure by obtaining evidence of its existence in these signals.
It is a system which attempts to reveal an unknown from a series of knowns. I have taken this idea and turned it on its head by using a known to make unknowns.
During the residency, I have developed a series of articulated handheld hinged structures. These are derived from what I call 'laboratory choreography'. Whilst attending practical demonstrations I had the sensation of my mind slightly drifting as yet another truly extraordinary piece of information was imparted but which I was unable to fully comprehend.  In an attempt to grasp an understanding I started to watch the hands of the demonstrator, there was an urgency as they used every facility they had to communicate. This space of not knowing appeared to enable a thought, to explore how whilst in the lab scientific concepts and lab processes are communicated through subconscious hand gestures.
I have been mapping the hand gestures within the lab that are created whilst explaining scientific processes and creating structures that represented these movements. These structures represent the knowns, something tangible that I grasped as an entry to understanding.
With spray paint standing in for electrons I have used these known forms as a masking tool to make fragmented images that are now unknown but have a sense of having to be remade or reconstructed in the mind. This is the essence of the challenge addressed in tomographic reconstruction where a 3D object is remade from a series of 2D images or projections, the ambiguity in the structure that produces each individual projection creating a “projection problem”.
I see these images and the process I have created as an entry point into understanding the challenges in relating a structure to the signal created by probing it and how translation can be used to make the invisible visible and the complex understandable.

Saturday, 27 May 2017


a great day in Cambridge - the day has seen a number of finished or I should say resolved moments with the work but it also presented a huge number of new possibilities - working with Richard attempting to wire up a bookwork whose structure initially referenced the glovebox, so that the form when manipulated makes contact between two 'probes' which will create a circuit so that we can play sound using graphine printing. We are looking to take this into two directions. The first is to have a spoken word piece around nanotechnology and graphine printing, the second is to work with a 'sound maker' to play a number of them within a sort of 'set'.The 3D printing with David is becoming very strange, we are trying to use the printer to create structures that explore the qualities of the printing. Next we are going to tessellate it to create a grid, exploring how the structure can be manipulated pulling it along different lines. Looking at the idea of impossible structures in our conversation today we realised that we had in fact printed a so called impossible structure. Whilst manipulating the piece we decided that the real work has become the projection or shadow created when a light is thrown onto it. This links with the work I'm doing with Duncan through crystallography, exploring projection symmetry. It was great to show some finished work and get positive feedback about how I have taken our conversations and made art

We had an interesting conversation around how material is categorised at a molecular level most people don't see and linking it to the topology thinking Pitt Rivers used around his work with museology and Darwin informed evolutionary morphology. Which of course led to The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge a fictitious taxonomy of animals described by the writer Jorge Luis Borges in his 1942 essay "The Analytical Language of John Wilkins" The list divides all animals into 14 categories:

Those that belong to the emperor
Embalmed ones
Those that are trained
Suckling pigs
Mermaids (or Sirens)
Fabulous ones
Stray dogs
Those that are included in this classification
Those that tremble as if they were mad
Innumerable ones
Those drawn with a very fine camel hair brush
Those that have just broken the flower vase
Et cetera
Those that, at a distance, resemble flies

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


today has been all about design - organising all the information panels for the exhibitions. attempting to find a language or a tone that explains both the art and the science is an interesting balancing act.