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Unfolding the thinking

Within a very short period of encountering NanoDTC one is quickly divested of the notion that science is a fixed rigid occupation, I have found that within the world of nanotechnology thinking is fast and fluid, creative connections are made which always lead to an interesting conversation. It was this interdisciplinary, inclusive, outward thinking approach that attracted me to working within the Maxwell, that and the wonderful open seating spaces that provide creative nodal points and the futuristic coffee machine that fuels them.

In the initial phase of the residency I've been assimilating the wide range of processes and activities first year students engage with. This was almost a full-time job, the progress of which can be observed through a dedicated blog which occasionally drifts into hyperbole as I engage with concepts beyond my world but that very much underpin it.

I have become preoccupied by a number of issues. Whilst attending a practical demonstration I can remember slightly drifting in my mind as yet another truly extraordinary piece of information was been imparted but which I was unable to fully comprehend.  In an attempt to grasp an understanding I started to watch the hands of the demonstrator, there was an urgency as the demonstrator used every facility they had to communicate.  I have been creating films which explore how scientific concepts and lab processes are communicated through subconscious hand gestures whilst in the lab. I developed a number of structures that mimicked or illustrated the movements made by the hand, these were then given to the facilitator to recreate the movements. This was subsequently filmed and juxtaposed with the objects or their initial movements. This small observation and subsequent body of work has instigated conversation and debate and raised consciousness amongst scientists about how we communicate.

The question of what science looks like is a strand of my research, the machines including the electron microscope and AFM in combination with the imaging software connected to them create a science aesthetic which exudes trust. Working with software more familiar to the art world I have developed a number of images and films that mine this aesthetic creating a dialogue around what information looks like.

I have encountered a number of machines that map surfaces but to enable this they are calibrated to 'fire' matter at surfaces they are investigating, the evidence of this activity is mapped, the space between surface and probe providing answers. I am currently following a line of enquiry that looks at this, making physical something that cannot be seen by casting the negative space of the folding structures that explored the hand gestures, fixing a moment in time.

The film is an introduction to some of the work I have been involved in, to view more go to https://unfoldingthinking.blogspot.co.uk/  The work has been supported Arts Council England and the EPSRC CDT in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

- Les Bicknell

 

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