Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Reality checkpoint, where are you?

Meeting: where a bunch of scientists in different countries phone each other at once and try to solve a problem, not realising that it's 10 pm in the UK, a public holiday France, that one person in the group speaks little English, you all have different specialisms so noone understands what you do anyway. The human race would be infinitely more advanced if the time spent wasted in meetings was used in a more efficent way.

Welcome to my life, do come in and make yourself at home.

Part of the problem with the scientific community is that we are spread in a thin layer over the whole world. The other problem is that noone sleeps or has a life. I have taken skype calls when in Korea from people in the US, been woken up at half-past-stupid by people wanting stuff when they couldn't possibly wait for a couple of hours for me to regain consiousness. I've been phoned two hours after returning home after a hospital stay. I've worked 72 hrs straight to make something that someone couldn't possibly wait any longer for then decided they didn't have time to use. I've had meetings at 1 am, then got on a train at 6 am to deliver a talk halfway up the country four hours later. Dealing with scientists is like dealing with volcanos - you hear nothing for ages, then they have short periods where they crash around, make a huge amount of noise, throw out a lot of hot air and you generally don't want to get in the way. Then it will go quiet again, with just the occassional rumble so you don't get too relaxed.

I'm lucky in my current job, having worked for some rather demanding people in the past, that I now have a great boss, fantastic colleagues and a strong link with the pharma industry. It's not that industry people are any less demanding in terms of meetings and targets, it's just that they are more organised, predictable and straight talking. Everyone sets targets, but industry people actually tell you what those targets are rather than expecting you to be psychic. I like that. I know where I am in my current job - specifically - not standing on a geological fault line that could crack without warning.

Years ago, when I lived in Cambridge, there was a little sign on a lamp post in the centre of the green where then paths converged in the centre. It said "reality checkpoint" and made me smile whenever I walked past it on my way to work as I just knew that I was on my way to entering a whole world of very stressful craziness and it gave me a point of reference. I never relaxed on my way home until I had walked past that sign. It became the physical gateway between my two worlds. A bit later on it disappeared and somebody scratched "reality checkpoint, where are you?" on the lamp post instead. I adore this photograph from Emma in Wonderland because it reminds me so much of that feeling. A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to win a blog giveaway and she sent me one of her beautiful prints entitled "Recurring Nightmare".

I think it is a very special piece of work, a reworking of another of her pieces called "A Gentle FreakOut". I like this photograph very much as I have days like that, but I like Recurring Nightmare even more because I have days like that sometimes one after the other. It communicates quite simply, in an 10 x 8 image, what goes on in my head a lot of the time that I don't know how say or explain to people. I'm a dreadful photographer so I have a massive amount of admiration for anyone with the skill to capture that sort of emotion in an image. Even something static can move if you have the skill.

I do feel bad that I haven't spoken about this photo before, but there is a very special reason. I have been trying to frame it and hadn't found anything that could do the piece of work justice. I find it quite difficult to frame things - more so because to me the frame is the way in which the piece of works enters the room. If you put a wonderful piece of glass sculpture on a chipboard plinth, people will see the the plinth not the object. If you wear a balldress and trainers, people will only see your Reeboks and nothing else. A muffin top in a couture dress? Trust me, it'll only be the cake shelf people notice. A good frame should be noticable, but noticable in its ability to go unnoticed, if that makes sense.

I wandered down to Oxford market this morning and got chatting to the guy that sells the photo frames. I ended up with a plain dark grey slightly aged solid smooth acrylic frame with no bevelling or embossing, about an inch wide each side and the wrong sized mount for the inside. I was always taught to frame for the room and mount for the picture, so the mount is bright white (I'd like to apologise for the yellowness of the photographs, it's really late so the light isn't good!). It is the wrong size though, so I had to attack it with a craft knife to get it to fit. Ideally, it should have gone a frame the next size up, but I wanted to keep the sizing tight so the photograph wasn't lost in the frame. My alterations to the mount with craft knife gave a very narrow border and a shredded tablecloth.

The photograph itself is a black and white print and it will probably be hung on a white wall, so I want to decorate the frame a little bit, but not too much that it detracts from the photo.

One thing I like about this photograph from an aestetic point of view is that it combines angular forms with a softness. The original photograph has soft outlines and obvious movement, where as the thumbnails that make up the reworking are retangular repeats. A while ago, I bought these mosiac tiles from my folksy namesake Tessera for a jewellery making project. I have loads of them left over and have been wondering what to do with them for ages. They are very pretty and very tactile - and like the photograph, soft in colour and angular in form.

I also have these, which are lithium batteries from my now deceased kitchen scales.

If I take an engraving tool to the edge of the frame I can etch out small parts of it to allow me to set the objects slightly deeper into the fabric of the frame.

...continuing the etching

Applying some sealent to the gaps and embedding the objects...

And that's everything

Right. I'd better go get my presentation ready. Wish me luck.

Huge thankyou to:

Emma in Wonderland

1 comment:

Emma in Wonderland said...

Oh thank you sooo much - I'm almost moved to tears! The fact that you've taken so much time and trouble to frame the image 'just right' and the little personal details you've added make it so special. Once a photograph is sold, it ceases to belong to the photographer, which can be a bit of a daunting prospect!

Thank you for making it your own, but for sharing it with me and the world - I'll always be proud knowing that it's on your wall!

Emma ♥