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One of my aims within this project is to Photograph the skin and get deeper to the tissue and cells. This was because of personal interest and to further the work of Gary Schneider who managed to gather lip cells and other cells from around the body.
After the meeting with Sean James, the senior technician for the labs, we headed over to the Pathology Department to see Shelly. This is where the cell and tissue bank area is contained. Within this lab slides of tissues and cells are scanned in using the machine shown below.
The results produced were not quite what I was after. I was thinking of going in deeper to see more of the cells in the skin. However I am going to take what I can get and be happy with this. It is still closer than normal, and can still make out the cells and tissue areas. In one aim these images are similarly related to the work of Karl Blossfeld with the presentation of the item as an art form showing the natural forms produced within and also the scientific nature of the item, just mine is going on the wall rather than in to science books and journals.
So far I have visited the Coventry University Biology labs to see about using their facilities to capture the images required. However this was as a backup plan since their camera in the testing phase was not exactly up to spec with high quality prints. Therefore I contacted local universities such as Birmingham and Warwick. Initially I emailed technicians and Senior Lectures from relevant Biology departments. Despite my efforts only Warwick University got back to me and that was to say that they were moving buildings and then catching up on research so would not have time to help me develop my project. Since my email from Birmingham University was not fruitful I decided to change tactics and ring the offices using numbers found on their research websites. This again was unfruitful. I explained my project to the Dr and senior lecturer of the department who gave me some advice on how I could go about my project but said that he could not let go forward with the project in their laboratories due to ethical issues of staining my own cells within their labs as well as using their equipment.
Furthermore, I now knew that ringing was the way forward to bother these people and getting an answer straight away.
Another tactic I decided to deploy was to again look locally but this time at hospitals. The University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) is a 5-10 minute walk through some fields opposite my house, and with having 4 relatives, 3 friends working over there (two having experience in taking blood) I figured I had some leverage to gain access to at least talk to someone. I asked a friend if the blood taken within the Hospital is examined ‘in-house’ or is sent away. I asked the question through the use of Social Media and Facebook, which gained a response from a different friend who worked their. He said he could email the head of pathology department with details of my project and see if I could go visit to explain more and possible take it further. However again this did not work. Taking matters in my own hands I found telephone numbers from the website to the UHCW Research department. This worked and I had booked a meeting for tomorrow.
These images are the results of testing 3 methods of trying to capture and digitalise the awkward shapes of the ‘negatives’ given to me from my Orthodontics. To obtain these ‘negatives’ from the Orthodontics, I first asked a Hygienist Nurse friend of mine if it was possible to borrow them. She said it was possible as long as they were taken for a medical reason in the first place as they would not take images for the sake of an art course, and that I might have to pay to borrow them. I thought this was fair enough and so with this in mind and my wallet, I headed over to my Orthodontics. I approached the receptionist and asked if it was possible to borrow them and explained my project. She was unsure and so asked a senior receptionist who was more in a negative way of thinking I would not be able to. In the end the surgery manager was involved and she said it would be possible to borrow them since I did not require to keep them. However she stressed that they do not usually allow the x-rays out of the surgery back to the patients since the ‘negatives’ do not even belong to them nor me but to the NHS for documentation and ID-ing purposes. But first of all my file from 2007 had to be archived downstairs for them to be able to get them out, if they were not there then they would be stored in the loft where the surgery owner was the only one allowed for insurance purposes. It was pointed out to me that he would not be pleased about going up there.
In the end the ‘negatives’ were still archived downstairs and for me to keep them I had to sign a document saying a date the ‘negatives’ would be returned by hand and that I would not damage them in anyway with liquids or light.
Overall I am pleased with how these images have turned out with the amount of detail in the root part of the teeth as well as the different areas of the skull that have shown up. To print these big would be great and to shock the the audience with the sheer size presented to them to maximise the amount of detail you can see.
I decided to leave the scale in the top right hand corner of the side on image to give the viewer more information about me and to make it more personal.
Similarly with the first attempt I moved onto a different flat bed scanner on the advice of a class mate. This scanner can be used for 5×4 negatives and so should produce sharp and detailed results, ideal for printing. Also I managed to scan a selected area so I did not have to include the whole scanner platform since the negatives are not standard sizes. I used a transparency mode used for normal negatives scanning.
This method got some results though the ‘colour’ of the final images did not really gel with the look I was after and did not work out when I edited the images in Photoshop. Also I put the images of the second method and this method to a poll with other photographers as well as people from Facebook and Twitter and the second method scored more votes.
Helen Chadwick uses ordinary photocopies to question the conventional ideas about the human body by showing a physical representation. This being a lead to physical identification of self along with physical matter. In aid of showing this work she hoped to bring out the ideas that not everyone is comfortable with and trying to force them to deal with it if you will by saying in the Guardian interview: ‘for many people, it’s a troubled terrain‘. By doing this the audiences troubles are projected onto Chadwick and represented within the piece differently by the individual audience viewer having a different connection and meaning to the work produced. Furthermore Chadwick tried to explore a world in which we did not know much about, mortality and desire.
In a sense with my final images being printed big I am trying to force people to see what they are made of, what lies beneath and making them face the truth similarly to Chadwick forcing the installations onto her viewers.
Interview: Helen Chadwick, shortlisted in 1987 | Art and design | The Guardian . 2012. Interview: Helen Chadwick, shortlisted in 1987 | Art and design | The Guardian . [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/1987/nov/18/20yearsoftheturnerprize.turnerprize. [Accessed 22 March 2012]
V&A Exploring Photography – Helen Chadwick. 2012. V&A Exploring Photography – Helen Chadwick. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/photography/photographer.php?photographerid=ph015&row=1. [Accessed 23 May 2012]
When I collected my x-rays I was informed that a good way of capturing the x-rays digitally was to set them on a light box and take pictures of them from above using a normal digital camera. Therefore this is was I decided to do. I set up a camera on a tripod using the horizontal tripod arm and placed the x-rays onto the light box. I used Live View mode within the camera to set up the shot and then switched back to the viewfinder to finalise.
The results were great and ideal for what i wanted to do. The images looked like proper x-rays and were the right way round in terms of being a positive or negative way. Also being that it was taken with a normal digital camera the file sizes would be that of a normal file can could mean printing at a greater size that normal prints are subjected to.
Seeing the work of Nick Veasey and his use of X-rays, I got to thinking about literal portraiture of showing the human features in a form we can not see from the exterior in its detail. Therefore I was reminded of the time I had dental x-rays for some orthadontical work.
My first attempt at capturing the xrays was to use the main A3 flat bed scanner. The idea was to scan the xrays on the glass and then either crop down later or use a tool on the scanning software to crop to the image size required, after the preview and before the main scan. However the scan did not exactly come out in all of it’s detail nor colour. Furthermore the scanner picked up too much detail and showed up all the marks on both the negative and the glass being that the negative was too transparent.
Mark Quinn created the ‘self’ project using blood from his own body frozen in a mold of his own head. Quinn made the first head in 1991 and plans to make one every 5 years to document his own age and transformation of deterioration. Therefore his pieces are a close representation of his identity over the next few years in which he is creating the ‘blood heads’ and in doing so he wanted to push the extremes of the portraiture world. Similar to the work of Gilbert and George the artist became the living art work. For this piece of art to work the blood head has to be kept in a special plinth built for it. the head on top and the freezer and cooling components below. As Saatchi will know, the plinth is best to be left plugged in… This notion of the work having to stay in this state give the piece two dimensions. One obviously being the frozen state and the other being that it could turn to a liquid if it is left switched off.
National Portrait Gallery – Marc Quinn. 2012. National Portrait Gallery – Marc Quinn. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.npg.org.uk/about/press/marc-quinn-press.php. [Accessed 14 March 2012].
‘I travel beyond the surface and show something for what it’s worth, what it’s really made of, how it really works’ – Nick Veasey
Nick Veasey does not use conventional methods to capture images. He uses x-ray format to see deep into the plants, human skeletons and other objects to see how they work. This is the kind of thing I am looking for in my project. To create portraits using items we do not tend to see. Bones and other tendons beneath the skin is something which we do not always associate with portraiture, unless the subject is dead and is part of the documentary photography genre.
Nick also likes to show the workings of the items he photographs. With clothing he would like to show the layers and stitching produced to pull the garment together. In humans it would be what pieces us together, what makes us stand, walk and bend. In one section of the video Veasey talks about seeing the cells within the plant structure he is creating. This is close to my level of work again. Similarly I to want to show the workings and inner beings of the human body by showing what goes on beneath us. He does this in a contemporary way by presenting the ‘models’ in life like day-to-day situations we are all familiar with. This makes the audience more connected to the piece since the association of their normal, daily lives is presented in front of them.
However I am going to have to find another way in which to do so, as it would be a challenge to find a ‘model’ in which to x-ray. However I can try and get access to some Orthodontic x-rays that I had taken in 2007 as part of a treatment. These x-rays would show the inner work of the tooth structure and create a real shocking abstract piece.