Earlier this year I was delighted to be awarded a research residency at CFPR. The artist in residence programme presents a truly exciting opportunity for collaboration and the enrichment of the CFPR’s research activities. Artists and designers will make a body of work that contributes to the CFPR archive and the editions portfolio.
My interrogation and interest of my walking body as a receiver and conduit of unseen energy led to my research proposal to explore print as a co-creator with my body to produce a sensing, responsive print surface.
In a continuation from tests at AirSpace, ‘Sonorous’ aimed to combine screenprinted graphene and traditional woodblock. Used as my starting point I wanted to create a surface in a state of flux. Visually dynamic, processes colliding, revealing and obscuring simultaneously.
Material testing has been undertaken in collaboration with Dr Nazmul Karim both at CFPR and in my studios in Preston. Since the beginning of the summer, I have been working to establish how best to embed layers of graphene within a traditional print to create a proximity sensing surface capable of triggering sound.
Forensic labs at UCLan helped me to reveal the inner structure of the graphene ink, this structure became the basis of the screenprinted graphene image. Hand drawn, the scale, complexity and thickness of the lines all had to be tested to try to achieve the most reactive and conductive surface.
Sonic tests at AirSpace gallery with Phill had revealed a sequence of cymatics images as we played inaudible sounds through drawing ink. My residency at CFPR provided the opportunity to revisit this experiment and last month I spent a fantastic day with the very wonderful and I have to say patient Frank Menger photographing the captured sounds though various liquids to attempt to capture the resonance patterns.
Cymatics was first used in 1967 by Hans Jenny, a physician and natural scientist who used the term to describe the study of wave phenomena and vibration.
Using this simple method of playing sound through a vibrating membrane it is possible to simultaneously hear and see sound.
Current research indicates that similar much smaller vibrations are happening in our bodies. Inside each one of our cells, molecules vibrate at their own characteristic resonance.
The resulting images and proposed size of the edition have forced a change in my approach. In order to preserve the rhythmic velvet patterns and sensory flow of the captured liquid sound it has been necessary to move away from woodblock to photogravure.
Testing continues as I move towards the final stages of making this edition print.
Traditional hand printing will combine both screen and etched layers making visible the unseen structures and material presence in a physical process of exchange.
The print at a first glance will show no obvious signs of what lies below the surface, however, almost invisibly it carries the potential to reveal the unheard in an exchange of energy between the body and ink. So, when wired and connected to a speaker, as your hand passes in proximity to the surface of the print, the performative exchange of energy triggers sound. The unseen revealing the unheard.