Eddington and the Blueprint

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After weeks of thinking, and pondering, and counter thinking, and not updating this “blog”, I have finally drawn up a final plan for the Pecha Kucha. The idea came to me after reading about Arthur Stanley Eddington. He was one of the scientists who proved Einstein’s theory that large gravitational bodies can distort the path of light in a straight line. He traveled to the island of Principe off the coast of Africa to witness the solar eclipse on May 29th, 1919. He was to take two images, one of the stars at night and another on the same spot during the eclipse, he would then take the two images and overlap them. If large gravitational forces did distort light on its path, then when overlapped, the light from the stars would be in different positions on the two images thanks to the sun’s gravity. The experiment worked. The light had shifted, therefore proving the theory. Below is the image of the eclipse he used.

For me this is almost the idealised expedition of science. Using photography he had changed physics forever and revolutionised how we saw the universe. This expedition has become the major influence on my own experiment in the Pecha Kucha. I shall write a fictional expedition featuring the 24 inventors of photography on a journey for science and discovery, i shall either get some one to read it out live to the audience or record a voiceover maybe to play as i conduct my own experiment.

I shall use the data projector in the lecture theatre as a spotlight which will project onto a piece of cloth or paper. I shall then as 24 volunteers to come up and stand before the screen, i shall then proceed to draw their shadow’s outline, a silhouette: An actual Photo-Graph. Each will be named with a tag after one of the 24 men who claim photography’s crown, mirroring the fictional experiment thats read out.

It combines many elements of my research and influences, from Jacques Henri Lartigue’s shadows, to Descartes and his conceptual measurement of human existence, to the almost industrial, firing squad element to my drawing (Hopefully).

I just hope i don’t screw it up.

“Man is the measure of all things.”



Hippolyte Bayard and the Paternal Peaches

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For my BA (Hons) dissertation, i wrote about one of the afore mentioned photographers, Hippolyte Bayard. While he is accredited with being one of the 24 inventors of the medium, he is particularly famous for a photographic protest in 1840 aimed at the French Government. He claimed that his process came before Daguerre’s, but Daguerre had friends in high places in the government, particularly a man named Francois Arago, who would later become the french prime minister, (unlike Bayard who was simply a Civil Servant like his father before him). They, according to Bayard, showed Daguerre preferential treatment because of this and tricked Bayard into announcing his discoveries after Daguerre. Because of this, he made a photograph called Le Noyé or more commonly known as Self Portrait as a Drowned Man.


However this has not really concerned me too much during this project, despite my complete admiration for it. What has concerned me however is something that i came across while doing my research on Bayard. His father, also a civil servant, owned a small peach orchard. While this is hardly earth shattering news, what his father would do with the peaches is very much relevant to my current practice.

Before the peaches ripened, he would bend the leaves over the fruit and encase them, shielding them from the sun. He would then cut his signature into one of the leaves. When the peaches ripened, the leaves were removed and burned into the skin via the natural ripening process was Bayard Senior’s signature.

Ever since i discovered this fact i have been desperate to try this out, but with a photographic negative. A completely natural process of photography, without chemicals or darkrooms, letting nature do all the work. It would be fascinating to see if this works.

While this sounds rather romantic and poetic, a problem has struck me as i’m writing this.

I hate nature. I think its crap.

Twenty Four Kings.

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The invention of photography have always fascinated me. Unlike almost all other forms of art, photography has a traceable history and acknowledged point of origin. Another fact that sets the medium apart from others is the sheer number of people who are, or claim to be, independent inventors of the medium. Some are well known and widely credited, while some are so vague and mysterious that there is nothing but a name as a trace of their existence. These 7 Frenchmen, 6 Britons, 6 Germans, an American, a Spaniard, a Norwegian, a Swiss, and a Brazilian, all of whom could be the “True” inventor of fixing the light from nature.

I hope you like lists.

  1. Louis Daguerre
  2. Nicephore Niepce
  3. Hippolyte Bayard
  4. J. B. Dumes
  5. Desmarets (Unknown)
  6. Verignon (Unknown)
  7. Jean Louis Lassaigne
  8. Henry Fox Talbot
  9. J. B. Reade
  10. John Hershel
  11. Mungo Ponton
  12. Fyfe (Unknown)
  13. Clericus (Unknown)
  14. Carl August von Steinheil
  15. Wilhelm von Kobell
  16. Breyer (Unknown)
  17. Hoffmeister (Unknown)
  18. Friederike Wilhelmine Von Wunsch
  19. Liepmann (Unknown)
  20. Samuel F.B. Morse
  21. Zapetti
  22. Hans Thoger Winther
  23. Gerber
  24. Hercules Florence

Regardless of who discovered it first, the fact they contributed to it at all is enough to earn my respect and admiration.

Three Cheers for Photography!

P.S. These names were taken from Anno Lucis 1839. Article published in “Camera”, Luzern- May 1960- pp. 24-31. By Pierre G. Harmant.

Mark Wallinger

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Sleeper, 2005.

Mark Wallinger is one of the leading contemporary artists in Britain today, having won the Turner Prize and numerous exhibitions and awards he is also one of the better artists from the YBA generation, in my opinion.

Time and Relative Dimensions in Space or TARDIS, 2001.

He is one of the more imaginative and expressive artists currently working today, having produced and curated some of the most famous work in recent years, from his Ecce Homo on the fourth plinth, to his Turner prize winning State Britain in 2007. I’m also a big fan of the fact  that, in Sleeper and Hymn, his singing in the park while inhaling helium, he is in his work. Or rather than becoming the art itself, he is simply a facilitator for it, a participant in it rather than an object of focus. By adopting a character, as i do and have done, it helps to remove that boundary of a personal identity within the piece.

The Number Forty Two.

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In the book The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the super computer Deep Thought calculated that the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything was, quite simply, 42. While the book is a classic of literary satire and comedy, this none the less raised a very interesting question for me. The characters in the book quickly realised that while they had the ultimate answer, they simply didn’t have the ultimate question.

Before christmas I stayed in a particularly dismal travel lodge just off the M5. While there was nothing special about this generic seen-a-hundred-times building, there was a strange pattern in the rooms on my floor. 17, 18, 19, 42… And of course, as shear serendipity would i have it, i was in that exact room, Room 42.

I felt this to be to much of a convenient situation not to do anything about it, so as i had brought my equipment with me as i tend to do whenever i go somewhere new, i decided to make some work within the room.

The work that i eventually made, was surprisingly limited considering i had two days and only shot 4 rolls of film. Yet it wasn’t bad work, i had been restricted by the room itself and the lack of materials and interesting positions. Towards the end of my self imprisonment i’d gone a little odd with a sort of cabin fever and had completely explored the room to the best of my ability and time.

I’d examined the answer, but i had still failed to produce a question.

P.S. The number 42 also appears frequently in Lewis Carroll’s work, especially in Alice In Wonderland.

“Rule Fourty-Two: All persons more than a mile high are to leave the court.”


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Then again, perhaps i could try a literal attempt at the measurement of human life. A physical measurement of the biological and chemical construction of Homo sapiens. This idea was given to me after a discussion with one of my tutors in which he informed me that the ratio of salt in human blood is exactly the same as the ratio of salt in the sea.

And so, here is a graph of interesting facts and figures about human composition. Enjoy.

I wonder if this was the same ratio Dr Frankenstein would have used? Or perhaps a bit more iron? If i acquired these elements and combined them in this ratio would a human suddenly come into being? Alas, i fear not. After all, as Aristotle once said:

“The whole, is more than the sum of its parts.”


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