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Picturing the Invisible Seminar

Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration
Roberto Trotta The Planck Collaboration
Roberto Trotta - The Planck Collaboration
Written by
Gabriele Grigorjeva
Published date
17 June 2019

A platform for an exchange of ideas concerning how we picture the invisible or the unknown within our respective disciplines.


Mark Amaral: Visualising how traces transfer: creating an evidence base for forensic reconstructions

To reconstruct crime events, it is important to be able to identify traces, and to understand how and when they have been transferred to an object or a person – often referred to as trace evidence dynamics. Traces are often unseen but can offer valuable evidence and intelligence to inform an investigation. Currently the evidence base to underpin the interpretation of traces for forensic reconstructions is scarce.

The aim of this research is to a gain a better understanding of the trace evidence dynamics of drug and explosive residues by assessing the effect of surface type, time, and force with regards to the amount of trace transferred. To study the impact of these variables on the transfer of trace residues, Intron’s ElectroPuls™ E3000 all-electric dynamic test instrument was used to control time and force independently in a controlled and repeatable manner. The results indicate the importance of the context that such data provide for effective inferences to be made in reconstructions. The wider implications of these results for the interpretation and presentation of expert evidence in court can also be assessed.

Adrienne Bennie & Sally Hilal: Picturing the invisible: As Spatial Designers

Drawing on our own experiences as migrants, our research engages spatial conditions that push the boundary of public space and social narratives. As spatial designers, the notion of the invisible is framed in terms of place, space and identity.

One approach being the mapping of Hamamms as artefacts and their contribution to a Syrian cultural identity, the role of temporary installations to re-establish and address the transitional stage between immediate disaster-relief and long-term reconstruction. The second approach investigates the increasing privatisation and control of the public realm (Anna Minton, 2009) which is ghettoising the homeless in

London, which has consequences for how private domestic activities take place within full public view. We both understand the notion of the invisible in context to our research, but also our own experiences and upbringing. Our research, therefore investigates the intersection between solving ‘real world’ design issues

(Papanek,1974) and performative actions that make explicit an underlying ‘problem’.

Helen Cawley: CLOUD experiment

The CLOUD experiment aims to understand Climate by recreating atmospheric conditions seen all over the world, including radiation from space that plays a role in cloud formation.

My works aim to speak about climate from the ground up, by looking at the ingredients of clouds, ingredients sourced from the world’s industrial areas, cars, forests, seas, etc. And to show what happens with these different compositions of clouds once they meet ionising radiation from space What’s the point? A couple of really important discoveries have been made about the specific compositions of clouds. The chemical Alpha Pinene from the trees in boreal forests and iodine from algae in low tide marine areas cause a phenomena called cloud brightening, which is when clouds literally get brighter when they interact with radiation from space. This brightness makes clouds more reflective so that heat radiation from space doesn’t make it all the way down to us on the ground, it bounces back out to space, thus keeping the planet cooler.

This phenomena is the principle behind ‘Marine Cloud Brightening’ which doesn’t even mention the boreal forest aspect because the research is so new, but it’s an important consideration for climate change management in the future.

Currently I am working towards a solo exhibition to talk about my research project with CERN, and my Arts for the Environment award, a residency in the Amazon (also won at UAL), where I looked directly at algae, and CLOUD formation from the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory.

Lara Geary: Un-grasp-able

‘Un-grasp-able’ is a site specific and responsive installation. This sound installation evolved from my research into the unseen and the unheard in particular the concept and notion of silence. Specifically, why when in a quiet space or time, like the night does it become very loud for me, I wondered if the sounds I hear at night are the sounds of myself.

‘Un-grasp-able’ is about looking, listening and hearing that which can’t be seen or named, things that slip just to of reach. Beyond insomnia or restlessness, these sounds are made up of my EEG data mixed with other biological data and imaginings and interpretations of the sounds from within myself, using a process to make infrasonic tones audible.

I am interested in our encounters and experience with sound beyond cochlear hearing and how much of what we don’t hear with our ears is experienced elsewhere within our bodies. An experience of elsewhere as the other over there was just here. Embodied listening is an entanglement where we are hearing and generating sound.

In this work, I am grappling with the transient, glimpsing the un-grasp-able, how it seemingly is there but yet not, there and so quickly gone.

Carl Grinter

I'm an immersive media-maker whose interpretive practice developed from animation and visual effects. Surprise is integral in my interpretive practice because I focus on the analytic of movement as a topo-ontological explication of relations to space and objects and entities found there. Interpreting the world engenders différance in looking against seeing, as a self-concealing-self-revealing opposition, being a deferral in understanding (Derrida, 1982, p.17). In seeing, we take things for granted because the process of grammatisation is the technical history of memory (Stiegler, 2013, p. 31), where language as a technical infrastructure that meta-stabilises the fluid and expansive imagination. The hypomnesic memory exteriorised into objects is repeatedly relaunched in seeing, constituting an anamnesic tension of memory.

Grammatisation is the process whereby the temporal currents and continuities of memory shape the discrete existential quality of being-amongst-things. In animation, I understand that being-with-others is co-existentially shaped in the giving and receiving of space. The simultaneity of a spatial approach to things in the temporal orientation of memory engenders a singularity or surprise, where the image of reality and the reality of the image falter and affect and the imagination go beyond any memorial visibility.

Catherine Herbert

I believe scientific research highlights how extraordinarily strange and unnatural the world is. Rather than making sense of the world via a logical understanding of ‘things’ - as whole defined entities as they appear to us - a recognition of symbiotic relationships, interconnectedness and indeterminacy in evolution provides a different version of reality - as ‘matter’ enmeshed within its environment and in a dynamic state of change.

In ‘Cacti Combinations’ (2013), I graft two or more cacti plants together which continue to grow. The strategy is to assist the plant life into unforeseen conglomerates - an alternative evolutionary history, a nudge into the unknown that highlights the randomness of our own future. The results provoke a sense of evolution’s instability, subverting ideas of any 'natural' order and exploring the role of chance in biological design. Influenced by Manuel De Landa’s theories, the cacti reveal the hidden, dynamic potentialities which were latent, and hitherto unfulfilled, in the plants. De Landa proposes that structures and relations of possibilities form a virtual dimension of reality, a space from which actual objects derive.  Rather than focusing on their obvious defining properties, we see that when given the opportunity, the cacti take on surprising new forms.

Kim: Esoterism

As a graduate from MA Applied Imagination, we looked at harnessing the unknown, invisible and uncertain from the beginning. We explored the emotions and aesthetic journey that lead us or even encouraged us in our creative practice. I certainly found solace in learning more about psychogeography and embedding this within my own passion for synchronicity. As a lover jungian psychology, it important to look at the neurological imprints of the subconscious mind and their influence on the present reality. If we are discussing the formation of images in this respect, then creative exploration through multiple art forms might seem obvious. But without the archived resources and ability to follow one's journey, the meaning of such art forms are open to free-form narration. The possibility of losing the unique invisible energy associated with the artist is inevitable.

X-ray of Albert von Kölliker's hand

Rawan Maki: An exploration of the key levers influencing sustainability goals for the fashion sector in Bahrain

As the countries of the Persian Gulf transition to a post-oil economy, shifting towards sustainability across sectors is becoming a priority. This study will explore Design for Sustainability (DfS) within the Bahraini fashion context, supplementing DfS frameworks with a cultural and socio-political understanding of Bahrain.

The aims of this research are (1) to investigate the current state of Bahraini fashion industry against key design for sustainability frameworks and (2) to examine how Bahrain’s cultural context plays a role in determining barriers and opportunities towards design for sustainability in fashion.

The outputs of the research will include recommendations for fashion sustainability, a language bank for sustainability in Bahrain (including how sustainability is understood and implemented locally), and a map of current sustainability initiatives based on a 4-tier innovation level DfS framework.

This study employs multi-methods, consisting of a Delphi study with activists, businesspeople, and policymakers, as well as a series of qualitative semi-structured interviews to capture under-represented viewpoints: Bahraini women and non-Bahraini female labour.

Laura Madeley: The Invisibility of Sleep

Sleep is largely an invisible process. We do not see ourselves sleeping, and with the exception of lucid dreaming do not have awareness of our own consciousness during sleep.  The language we use to describe sleep suggests we “switch off” during sleep, but sleep is an active process physiologically, metabolically, and psychologically with relevance for physical repair, memory, learning, and emotional processing. A range of approaches make the processes of sleep visible; Digital technology ‘tracks’ our sleep, giving information to inform behaviour change. Transitions between different sleep stages give rise to hypnopompic or hypnogogic hallucinations. Dreaming occurs during Rapid Eye Movement Sleep (REM). Understandably, a range of movements and artists have used dreaming as an inspiration for their practice. Increasingly, EEG data has been used creatively to externalise brain processes using a range of approaches from sonification to light art. This presentation explores visualising sleep through the use of app based data, and Polysomnography data (multi channel EEG study used to observe sleep during overnight sleep studies) to create digital, 3D and 2D works. This body of work will be discussed in relation to interdisciplinary practice, and the ethical challenges of using clinical data in artistic practice.

Jacqueline Nicholls: The traces and spaces that our bodies leave behind.

My presentation aims to consider handwriting as a form of drawing, its affect and its ability to connect between the present and the absent.

Handwriting reveals emotions, errors, false starts, internal thoughts, but when transcribed into type, these gestures and slips get left behind. Handwriting gives language a human presence and an aura, invoking the one who is no longer there but once left that trail on paper. Dancing the line between clarity and incoherence, it is legible to those familiar with its particular codes and inconsistencies.

The handwritten name claims ownership, as the unique signature reveals the particular identity. Books evoke the presence of those who have touched, written, bound, sold, and studied them. Through the uniquely human conscious touch, books become alive and soften, their sharp corners are rounded by those who have stroked its pages. Handwritten notes and marginalia bring the printed text into a living conversation. Handwriting is intimate, invoking private thoughts, externalised but not quite ready for mass consumption. And today, when we more likely to communicate in text, handwriting has become precious. A rare glimpse of an internalised world.

Madeline Robles: The Utility of Three-dimensional Models of Paranasal Sinuses to Establish Age, Sex, and Ancestry Across Three Modern Populations

Advancements in technology have allowed forensic science to take significant strides forward. Trace evidence such as DNA and fingerprints have become a cornerstone in human identification. However, collecting this type of evidence is made difficult when the body is severely burned or degraded which can obfuscate identity. On these occasions, alternative methods of identification become invaluable.

The paranasal sinuses consist of four air-filled cavities within the skull visible only through radiological modalities. Researchers have quantified the variability of these sinuses between individuals and have begun to explore their ability to provide biological information. However, the current research does not adequately address the utility of these structures within a forensic context on a UK population. Therefore, this study addressed this gap by developing a new approach for human identification using the paranasal sinuses. Shape and size analysis on 30 three-dimensional models produced from modern CT scan data of paranasal sinuses demonstrated promising variations and patterns with regards to age, sex, and ethnic affiliation with some classification rates as high as 93% (p=.000). In this way, the sinuses are made visible and this research offers insights into the potential of using the paranasal sinuses as a practical source in establishing identification to unknown human remains in future forensic reconstruction investigations.

Co-written: Madeline Robles(1,2) with Professor Ruth Morgan(1,2), and Dr Carolyn Rando(3)

(1)UCL Security and Crime Science, 35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ; (2)UCL JDI Centre for the Forensic Sciences, 35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ ; (3)UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY

Ana Tam

One can argue that conservation sits between the arts and forensic science. As conservators, we investigate and analyse artworks and other heritage objects. The field of conservation recognises understanding of an object’s origin, its method of manufacture, and the degradation processes at play inherent in its materials and as a result of its environment, to inform our strategies to manage its care. Key evidence can often be inconspicuous and sometimes even invisible. What’s not there can provide insights as to what is there, and vice versa. Whether it’s identifying the mineralised woven structure of a deteriorated garment captured in copper corrosion products in an archaeological burial or the re-installation of a Janet Cardiff sound installation that was originally staged in a medieval church but is subsequently staged in an acoustically-differing industrial building--conservators encounter the invisible everyday. The impact a conservator has on the preservation and display of an object is itself often unseen or unclear to a general visitor. My PhD research explores the invisible thread of knowledge that is captured--but also fragmented--within our professional documentation. By using semantics and graph theory, I aim to re-establish the missing links and build a clearer picture of conservation knowledge and practice.

Cai Zhang: Aphantasia, psychosis and creativity

I am an AL at MA Art and Science at CSM and also a PgCert Student in Academic Practice. I have a live visual practice in drawing and performance exploring the internet as a psychological space and ask what it means to be human. I also have an ongoing professional practice in brand and design strategy specialising in the future of transportation, in particular electric and autonomous vehicle.

On the theme of 'Picturing the invisible', I would like to give a spoken word performance on a story I am writing about Aphantasia, psychosis and creativity. Drawing on my personal experiences of mental health and research on Aphantasia, I intend to perform a three interconnected poem and prose on the peril and thrill of the body moving in the world driven by an invisible and unruly mind.