Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The art that cannot be hidden

I've always been interested in tattoos.

I started to notice of late that tattoo artists are becoming ever more deserving of the title 'artist', as the work being produced these days is likely to be unique, expressive, and far more aesthetically pleasing than a simple stencil chosen from the wall. And the ever-increasing incidence of sleeves, often grown from one small piece on the arm into a vast wraparound tale, drawing the viewer in with questions.

And that's when I noticed the lines.

Sometimes visible, sometimes implied, almost everyone who gets inked keeps it in places that can be covered - which is understandable, considering the continued discrimination against people with tattoos and piercings. These absences are often conspicuous, challenging the world while silently bowing to perceived standards.

So what of the people who defy these rules? The ones who hear the cries of, "Oh no, you don't want to get a tattoo there" and do it nonetheless? There must be stories in these indelible traces on hands and faces, reasons for choosing to wear a statement so boldly. Or, taking this further, there are some parts of the body that are know to be more sensitive than others; why subject yourself to bonus pain? More stories lie therein...

Rebeca's new tattoo

The only way I know of to investigate is through photographs. As a starting point I think I need a handful of people with visible art on their hands or face who would be willing to have a chat about their tattoos and let me point a camera at them.

Any volunteers? Hit me up on youandyourink@gmail.com!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Edinburgh International Science Festival photomarathon

Once upon a time there were no Science Festivals. In 1990 the first of its kind started here in Edinburgh, the festival city indeed, and it's gone from strength to strength, spawning others across the globe.

I remember the first year it happened, my mother got special permission from my school to let me leave early for five days so we could go to a series of lectures. And so being able to work with the organisation 25 years later - for that is the anniversary it was celebrating this year - fills me with a strange pride.

My first stop this year was at the LateLab they held on launch day, back in January. The theme this year was patterns so we were treated to a lot of patterns!

LateLab

LateLab

LateLab

Arriving at the festival itself six weeks later, the opening party was on the most overbooked night of Edinburgh's cultural calendar I've seen outside August. Despite this the City Art Centre was rammed with people, getting gently tipsy and enjoying the exhibits and interactive bits and bobs that would normally be mostly for children. Apparently everyone really really likes bubbles.

Science Festival launch

Science Festival launch

Science Festival launch

Science Festival launch

Science Festival launch

As with the rest of my life, much of the Science Festival I see is at Inspace where the events are under the blanket of LateLab. Some of these are regular events fitting into the theme, others are special on-off evenings of science.

And so to the first LateLab proper, an Atmosphere screening of Logan's Run with a live recreation of the Carrousel scene. Not the most immersive setup I've seen there, but certainly one of the most dramatic, and the experimental 3D hologram was deeply disturbing!

LateLab - Logan's Run

LateLab - Logan's Run

LateLab - Logan's Run

Field Guide to Space gave some insights into space data and new ways to experience it. Also featuring a mini Mars Curiosity Rover!

LateLab - Field Guide to Space

LateLab - Field Guide to Space

LateLab - Field Guide to Space

LateLab - Field Guide to Space

Electric Bookshop, a regular favourite, was looking at paper - treating it as a technology that can be used in more ways than we might think. Conductive ink, mechanical flipbooks, though the highlight was probably the old hardback book asking to be hugged.

LateLab - Electric Bookshop

LateLab - Electric Bookshop

LateLab - Electric Bookshop

LateLab - Electric Bookshop

LateLab - Electric Bookshop

As it was a big birthday, the Science Festival had decided to do some special things. One of them was getting the artist Jason Hackenwerth to build a giant balloon sculpture in the main hall of the National Museum of Scotland. Gosh.

Building Pisces

Building Pisces

Building Pisces

I had to skip Encounters because there was a cocktail-related event with my name on it over at Teviot Row. Molecular Mastery filled a hall with people and then filled them with a remarkable selection of alcohol-based substances while making booze feel like the coolest science lesson you never had.

Molecular Mastery

Molecular Mastery

Molecular Mastery

Molecular Mastery

Molecular Mastery

Having worked like a hard working person with his team of hard working assistants, Hackenwerth opened his latest piece entitled Pisces to much media attention.

Pisces launch

Pisces launch

Pisces launch

Pisces launch

Back at LateLab, PechaKucha #22 was looking at the future of cities. If you've never been to a PechaKucha I recommend you go check it out: http://www.pechakucha.org/watch

LateLab - PechaKucha #22

LateLab - PechaKucha #22

LateLab - PechaKucha #22

And as if he hadn't done enough already, the great artist also created a wearable sculpture (which we tentatively dubbed Piscalino) for Fantastical Life where, along with Alistair Elfick, there was much talk of biology, art, and the interface between them - and the usual array of sciencey treats and things to play with. And a string quartet, why not?

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

LateLab - Fantastical Life

Next on the LateLab menu was GastroLab, a sequel to last year's which was a massive hit. With edible flowers, insects, and poisonous fungi, balls of moss hanging in the air and flower ice cubes in drinks it was a delight of experimental foodstuffs peering into the future of cuisine.

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

LateLab - GastroLab

No LateLab on Mondays so it was off to Sensory Dining. More food, more science! Are you a supertaster? Which of these balls of sugar tastes sweeter? How hot does this recording of pouring water sound? Eating gone science mad.

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Sensory Dining

Dialogues is another Inspace regular, showcasing experimental new musics.

LateLab - Dialogues 1

LateLab - Dialogues 1

LateLab - Dialogues 1

The big LateLab buzz was for Are You Fit For Orbit: tests and games and talks on the subject of space travel. Participants - and there were a lot of them - were asked to indulge in a variety of activities; controlling robots, testing for colourblindness while upside down, blood pressure tests, teambuilding apps... all hosted by jumpsuited helpers and with spacesuits and Piscalino in the background. Much joy and fun.

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

LateLab - Are You Fit for Orbit?

A change of pace and flavour, The Secret of the Shooting Star sent participants on a quest around Edinburgh. Starting and finishing in the Museum, travelling from underground vaults to the Royal Observatory and many places between on the hunt for a missing scientist, it was tiring indeed but plenty fun.

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

Secret of the Shooting Star

On my way back I popped into Inspace for some Dirty Electronics and watched as people learned how to build a circuit.

Dirty Electronics - Data Trail

Dirty Electronics - Data Trail

And then back later for Future Play 1, with performances and interactive entertainments.

LateLab - Future Play 1

LateLab - Future Play 1

LateLab - Future Play 1

LateLab - Future Play 1

LateLab - Future Play 1

The last day of the Festival was upon us and it was time for the big finale, the Mini Maker Faire (although from what I hear it was much bigger and better attended than many full sized maker faires!). Summerhall was filled with stalls and punters and making and doing and bicycles.

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

Mini Maker Faire

And after that there was Future Play 2 with visitors from Disney and a screening of Tron Legacy.

LateLab - Future Play 2

LateLab - Future Play 2

LateLab - Future Play 2

And to close, the Mini Maker Faire After Party, an opportunity for the Makers to let their hair down and for Science Festival staff to let loose with the UV body paint.

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

Mini Maker Faire Afterparty

I love a good Festival.