Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Grimes: Imaging in Art and Science

From: Karl Grimes
Date: Tue, 6 Mar 2007 19:36:11 -0500 (EST)

Picturing Practices, Attitudes and Technologies


As an artist, primarily an image maker, working with the animal and human bodyon a macro and micro level with different research institutions and museumcollections over the past decade, my picturing practices have always been modes of questioning, testing, understanding and ways of making sense of my life.

I join you, following many interesting contributions and responses toSuzanne’s questions, from a lighthouse in the west of Ireland as I wait (andwait) to image a stretch of sea in a specific set of conditions of winddirection, force and temperature to match one recorded in text on March 7, 1887 by the then chief lighthouse keeper. The intent of this picturing practice is a visualisation and re-presentation of archival evidence, a series of images fora large project of mine on the methodology of R.M. Barrington, the nineteenthcentury Irish naturalist, who over a period of twenty years pioneered the first mapping of bird migration patterns around the Irish coastline. Barringtonsecured the willing participation of Irish lighthouse and lightship keepers,marshalling them into a far-flung body of researchers and observers. Over twodecades thousands of migrating birds of various species were collectedfollowing nocturnal and daytime fog collisions with the lighthouse lanternbeams. He then classified, measured and preserved each specimen. His analysis,“The Migration of Birds as Observed at Irish Lighthouses and Lightships” was published in 1900.

In two days my digital camera and the outdoors will be replaced with anelectron microscope, the following day by an MRI screen. For me, there is nomajor shift in picturing practice involved, each device enables and limits mein different ways from dimensionality (including time) and framing to opticalprecision. The major shift is in the questions I ask myself and in the range ofemotions I experience on a deeply human level. It is this space that I try torescue intact in my work, a refugee from the static of the laboratory and itsordered paradigm. My “specimen portraits” may reflect little of theirscientific genesis, replaced instead by implication and suggestion. But, the view from the lighthouse will still be recognisable, in parts!

Karl Grimes
Artist, Lecturer
School of Communications
Dublin City University

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