Photography as activism

A new exhibition in Leamington Spa by Josh King highlights the reality of life for the homeless.   In a series of well framed images he captures the essence of humanity in each person, in each face.   Particularly liked the portraits, many of which were cropped to show only part of the face and allow space to appear beyond, as if to say there is humanity beyond the face.

Portrait of Andy

Hope this exhibition will attract attention to the plight of the homeless in Britain, something that is regrettably increasing.

What happens when you mix fashion, design, science and water?

Here is a blog, relevant to science and water and design – given that photography always has an aspect of “design”.   Orignially posted on the Practical Action blog

David J. Grimshaw
October 8th, 2008

The glib answer is disappearing dresses.   But much more happened in Belfast over the past couple of days.   Wonderland-Belfast opened yesterday at the Ormeau Gallery.   This is an extraordinary exhibition resulting from a partnership of talents from the world of fashion and science.   The dresses are made from dissolving textiles and as they are lowered into water they disappear.   The exhibition questions the environmental sustainability of our current fashion industry and what happens to used clothing.    Dissolving bottles, are a further idea put into practice as an exploration of intelligent packaging.   Once finished with, the bottles dissolve under hot water to form a gel in which seeds can be grown.   The concept could revolutionise the packaging industry and aims to highlight issues surrounding waste plastic.

Today the group were joined by Sarah Brown from UCL and David Grimshaw from Practical Action.  The diverse group brainstormed a range of ideas around the theme of “Water Futures”.   Watch this space!

Can photography bridge the gap between science and community?

Water is a key basic need for everyone and in the UK most people take it for granted in both quality and availability.   People living in the Terai area of Nepal are not so fortunate.  For many of these people the quality of water is affected by arsenic that leads to long term health problems.   Detecting the presence of arsenic in drinking water in a reliable, repeatable, and low cost way is a major challenge.   As a member of the team trying to develop a solution that local people will use there is a need to understand the local context and capture it in such a way that the scientists can develop an appropriate technology.

The background is covered well in the following article posted on the Wellcome Trust web site (the funder of the project).

The biggest poisoning in history | Wellcome Trust.

What has this got to do with photography?   Perhaps an image may be used to help communicate between science and the community.   The challenge is to produce a set of images that will bridge the the gap between science and users.



Ideas come from many sources.   Images are essentially a mix of ideas and asthetics that communicate (often through ambiguity, juxtaposition or metaphor).


Helen Sear – Inside the View 2004 – 2008

  • Montage of images could be used to frame what is “inside the head” of (say) the scientist or the user.

When Art and Science Collide – Picturing Science February 2011.

  •  An example of an image that questions the use of drugs by showing dust filled pills.

Brian Griffin – The Water People

  • An interesting use of space between to illustrate a gap.   This idea might be adapted to show scientists meeting local people and a mix of background landcapes.   Here the wall is a useful sign – what is over the wall (different world of science).

Good photography makes you see the world differently

This is the claim made by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times of 14 September 2001.   He was reviewing the work “Heads” of photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia.   His work makes a contribution to the Street Photography genre by capturing images in a new way.

“For the new photographs a strobe was affixed to scaffolding in Times Square; Mr. diCorcia stood farther away than before, using a longer lens. The result: crisp and stark portraits picked out of murky blackness — just heads, no longer cityscapes, the surroundings now blocked by the scaffolding. They are simpler images and more intimate, the paradox of standing farther away being enhanced intimacy.”   Source: New York Times (2001)

The approach raises some ethical issues because of the intervention made by the light suddenly appearing at random.   However, the results certainly provide some insight into the human condition as we walk (seemingly unobserved) down the street accompanied only by our own thoughts.

Data Floods are Forecast

It is not just the fields, roads, and houses in England and Wales that are flooding.   There is a flood in the virtual world that we also inhabit.   That flood is from the massive explosion in data.

This made me think about images of flooding and using them to convey that data is also flooding.    Here is my first image showing debris in the River Leam.   I would like to add a layer to denote data going down the river as an allusion to information overload.   Alternatively I could use the image as a backdrop to some statistics about the data flood.   For example, 294 billion emails are sent each day (The Radicati Group, “Email Statistics Report, 2010-2014,” April 2010.)


Technology and relationships

Here is an example of performance art where the artist and six computer monitors were submerged in a bathtub.   A strong visual impression is created, raising issues of waste, proliferation, multiple ways of seeing and the spiritual alienation of the age of technology.


Source: Yu Jie (2008),

A World Elsewhere


In Coriolanus Shakespeare reminds us that there is “a world elsewhere”.   The forty selected photographs reflect a people facing life in areas of conflict, the challenges of climate change, or something which is largely outside their control.   Some are reminders of the fragility of human life and others show human resiliance and hope.

The pictures taken in Palestine seem to capture alienation really well…or is that just because of the current news from that part of the world colouring my sensibilities?

Use of collage to create images

I have been exploring the work of John Stezaker which led me to the work of Mario Zoots where I found the following image:

Whilst Stezaker appears to overlay images or juxtapose them, the technique of Zoots is slightly different.   I like the idea in the image but the boy does appear to be too young to indulge in the offer of wine.