Interior textures.Read more
Continuing with the residency in Margate, here's the second short video piece:
I wanted to provide a different perspective on Margate from yesterday's piece, so as the tide receded I spent time down in the harbour capturing the orange and blue tones of the sunset set amongst the beached boats.
I was drawn to one boat in particular, named Sea Horse, which featured a curious Seahorse shaped 'S' on its stern.
It was a beautifully clear evening, so as the sun set, the sky was awash with intense oranges that slowly gave way to deep, inky blues. In terms of grading, I wanted to preserve these colours so I enhanced the contrast and deepened the blacks, but did little else. When shooting these scenes I shot in a flat profile and exposed to the right so that I could pull down the blacks in post and maintain the deep blues of dusk.
Finally, I decided to add in some sound design to play off the mostly static shots. The sounds of lapping waves, gusts of wind and creaking boats are suggestive of motion and act almost like ghostly echoes of movement.
The piece was shot entirely on my Sony A7s, using two old M42 lenses:
- Pentacon 135mm f/2.8
- Carl Zeiss MC Flektogon 35mm f/2.4
I'm currently in Margate on a week long artist residency (PRAH Foundation) producing work that is responsive to the local area. I'll be focusing on both video and audio outputs and as part of the project I've tasked myself with the grand challenge of producing (and publishing!) something each day...
Here's Tuesday's effort:
On my first day, I spent a couple of hours walking around the waterfront with my camera and was particularly drawn to the dull tones of the Arlington House tower block. This drab, monolithic structure looms, rather oppressively, over the recently refurbished Dreamland fun park below (hoping to pay that a visit later in the week).
The colours from this scene influenced the overall grading of the piece, producing a rather muted colour profile throughout. I really liked the contrast of the blue sheds that emerge half way through, with the glimpse of the ferris wheel in the distance - neither of which can quite break free from the muted, sombre tones of their surroundings.
I shot this on my Sony A7s, which I haven't really had much chance to experiment this year. I also wanted to test out a couple M42 lenses that I'd recently picked up on ebay:
- Pentacon 135mm f/2.8
- Carl Zeiss MC Flektogon 35mm f/2.4
Recent animation that explores how the lifestyles of far-removed cultures can impact the way we think about our own livesRead more
Slow-motion science!Read more
Let your imagination loose on an in-the-dark journey with the work of theatre maker Jan van den Berg, lighting designer; Jennifer Tipton, physicist; John Pendry, sound poet; Jaap Blonk; and many more.Read more
Over the last year at the Royal Institution we've published two series of a video project called ExpeRimental which aims to promote the practice of science based activities in the home with children.Read more
I got a new camera - come look what I done with it!Read more
New research freezes the rapid movement of electronsRead more
A sonic exploration into the sciences at the University of OxfordRead more
Have you ever heard ‘evolution’ dismissed as ‘just a theory’? Is a scientific theory no different to the theory that Elvis is still alive? Jim Al-Khalili puts the record straight.Read more
Professor Nicholas Humphrey explores the scientific significance and problematic nature of consciousness.Read more
Back in June I worked on 'The Listening Post' - an ambitious sound installation, co-commissioned by LIFT and 14-18 NOW that formed part of the 'After a War' exhibition at the Battersea Arts Centre. Writers James Wilkes and Tom Chivers led the project researching the history and lives of Battersea residents during the First World War. Their research into local archives and town records unearthed a wealth of material to work with, featuring stories from conscientious objectors, the struggles of munitionettes and the local paranoia surrounding activities of German bakers (below).
The pieces were produced and presented across more than 14 speakers spread throughout the installation, supported by work from graphic designer Lina Hakim and installation designer Gary Campbell.
Each section of the installation evoked a different feeling and theme, ranging from orchid growing to leisure activities (roller skating and hot air ballooning) before moving onto the darker tones of wartime industry and tribunals for conscientious objectors.
You can listen to James below as he gives a guided overview of the installation:
You can read a review of the event here.
The space between silence and noise
Last year, as part of an AHRC funded project, I was commissioned to make a short experimental audio documentary on the subject of silence. I was given freedom as to how I explored this subject and so I set out to capture the thoughts of those who worked with sound and in silent spaces.
[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146717849" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
The result, unsurprisingly, was that silence meant lots of different things to different people and so thematically it was very noisy! This relationship between noise and silence was one I was keen to explore through the production and so the piece is filled with hiss, distortion and feedback in an attempt to echo the noisy subject matter. This was explored further through the use of interviews but also with extracts of the poem 'Describing Silence' which are intercut throughout. This piece written by James Wilkes was a response to his time spent in total silence and explores some of the self generated noise born out of silence.
- The piece features interviews with Sophie Scott (cognitive neuroscientist), James Wilkes (poet and writer), Sara Mohr-Pietsch (BBC Radio 3 presenter), Cheryl Tipp (Natural Sounds Curator, British Library) and Vidyadaka (London Buddhist Centre).
- The idea of distortion and noise influenced the production from the early stages and as work continued I really wanted to create an intense build up of noise that would level off and really help mark the silence experienced later on in the anechoic chamber.
- The piece written by James Wilkes 'Describing Silence' - can be heard in full below: [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/79756417" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
- The interview and reading from James was recorded in an anechoic chamber based at UCL. The space itself is very strange to stand in, the best comparison I can think of is what happens to your hearing when you travel in a pressurised aeroplane. In terms of recording audio in there, it was actually a pretty boring space to record in!
- Although it did crop up in several interviews I was keen to avoid referencing John Cage's 4:33 - there are some great pieces on this already (particularly here: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/library/1258-john-cage-and-the-question-of-genre) and it justifies a much longer discussion than I could have accommodated for it.
- The piece was recorded on a Zoom H4n and a Marantz PMD661 with AKG D230 dynamic microphone. It was edited and composed in Ableton Live.
Chemical crystallographer Judith Howard reflects on the beautiful aesthetics of crystallographic exploration and her career, including time spent with Nobel laureate Dorothy Hodgkin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmSMt-jU9iE
The end of the video provides links to some of the other videos in the crystallography collection!
X-ray Crystallography - ever heard of it? Perhaps not, but it's arguably one of the most important scientific breakthroughs of the 20th Century. Why? Well, it's an incredibly powerful technique that allows us to look at really small things, like protein molecules or even DNA! Once we know how these molecules are assembled, we can begin to better understand how they work. How does it work? Essentially you take your sample, crystallise it and then fire X-rays at it. You then measure the way in which the crystal scatters or diffracts the X-rays - the resulting 'diffraction pattern' is what you need (and a bit of maths) to work back to the structure of the molecules that make up the crystal. So in theory, as long as you can crystallise your sample - you should be able to work out the molecular structure!
To find out more watch this simple animation we recently published:
The technique was developed over 100 years ago and it has led to some incredibly important discoveries, including the structure of DNA - since it's inception, work relating to Crystallography has been awarded 28 Nobel prizes. To mark the continuing success of Crystallography - we received funding from the STFC to produce a series of films that helped explain and celebrate this technique.
The above animation was scripted in house and animated by the awesome 12foot6 - it also features the voice of Stephen Curry, a structural biologist based at Imperial College London.
I produced and directed this two-part series, working with Elspeth Garman of Oxford University and Stephen Curry. The two pieces aim to explain how the technique works and what's needed to grow your crystals and subject them to X-ray analysis. The films take us from a microbiology lab at the University of Oxford to the Diamond Light Source, a huge facility that hosts a particle accelerator designed to generate incredibly powerful beams of X-rays.
As always, the hardest part in producing these pieces was in deconstructing the explanation of what is a very complicated process... hopefully we pulled it off - see for yourself below!
Part 1 - why proteins need to be crystallised and how this is done.
Part 2 - what it takes to shine x-rays at your crystals and how we work back from diffraction patterns to determine structures.
Crystallography and beyond
Producer Thom Hoffman also worked on this project - he produced two pieces, one exploring the history of farther and son team who helped develop the technique
and the other looking at the application of this technique on the recent Curiosity Mars rover.
Capturing exploding baubles with a high-speed cameraRead more
Audio piece: A week of dreams detailed through a list of incoherent imagery, places and situations.Read more
Watch the trailer for our upcoming RiAdvent 'Chromosome' seriesRead more
Distillations Podcast: The History and Development of Chemotherapy Drugs
Back over the summer I recorded an interview with Dr Viviane Quirke of Oxford Brookes University about the history and development of cancer chemotherapy drugs. The piece was recorded for the Chemical Heritage Foundation's brilliant and award winning podcast 'Distillations' - which has sadly now come to an end.
The piece was edited by Mia Lobel and can be listened here:
The episode also features a very personal story by producer Christine Laskowski who looks at her father's cancer treatment with a drug called Cisplatin - a drug that was developed in the 1970s and despite very nasty side-effects - is still used to treat cancer today.
If you don't already listen to the podcast, it's well worth checking out the Distillations back catalogue - with close to 200 episodes - there's some great stuff there waiting to be listened to: http://www.chemheritage.org/discover/media/distillations/index.aspx