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.

Friday, 19 May 2017


It was informative to speak at The Making Material Matters Teachers conference at Ironmongers Hall in London. 
https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/visiting-and-outreach/outreach-events/making-materials-matter-teachers?wssl=1  The space was truly magnificent and the whole event was so well planned.  It was great to hear positive feedback of what we've been doing at the Maxwell. The collaborative nature of the project and the way it has enabled and nurtured voices from different fields especially from outside were seen as positive and in some cases revelatory. It was wonderful to hear the circular thoughts around material development in the future from Professor Mark Miodownik http://www.markmiodownik.net/ and the enthusiasm levels emanating from Professor Becky Parker http://www.iop.org/about/awards/hon_fellowship/hon_fellows/page_64158.html made me almost want to become a scientist. A link to the presentation.  https://www.slideshare.net/l.bicknell/presentation-for-conference-with-youtube-links

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


I've spent the day in the studio 'printing' the work for corridors around the rooms that house the microscopy labs in the materials science and metallurgy building on the West Cambridge site - looking good 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Saturday, 13 May 2017


I ran an extraordinary workshop at the Maxwell Centre - what makes a perfect experiment? only extraordinary because of the participants - I had been thinking about a workshop I run at Camberwell with art students around trying to create an equation based on the idea of finishedness - attempting to define when a piece of work is finished. It was interesting to note that often the science students used imagery to make sense of the problem and communicate complex ideas.  In terms of concerns there were many parallels around the idea of satisfaction and a need to collaborate with people alongside the idea of flow and beauty. Before the session many people told me that scientists would be unable to undertake the task but the session was great because, as ever the students were interested in working with ideas. A link to the workshop https://www.slideshare.net/l.bicknell/finishedness-for-science-75940134