Tag Archives: MA Digital Arts

British Library Cyanotype Workshop: MA Fine Art Digital, Camberwell College of Arts

During the recent MA Visual Arts: Fine Art Digital low-residency, Smriti Mehra and I, Matt Lee, led a cyanotype printing workshop with students in collaboration with the British Library. The workshop began with an introduction to the process and looking at examples of cyanotypes from the British Library collection, including reproductions of blueprint maps from the Indian Office records and Anna Atkins’s self-published book of Photographs of British algae.


The morning was spent exploring the British Library archive and creating collages from an assortment of printed negatives from the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project collection. This rich and varied material included historical photographs, illustrations, maps, iconography, typography, patterns and textures. To cite a few examples, a striking portrait of a Meccan woman in bridal attire from 1887-1888, a strangely surreal illustration of a Waqwaq tree from a 17th century Persian manuscript and landscape photographs of a Central Persian trade route from 1901. Using this diverse archive as a starting point, the students worked intuitively and conceptually in response to the images, creating juxtapositions, patterns, narratives and incorporating the technique into their creative practices. The workshop was an opportunity to play with the material to explore meaning and form. The collages were then placed on top of the photosensitive paper and exposed under UV light in a darkroom. The prints were developed, washed and rinsed to reveal vivid Prussian blue monochromatic images, which were left to dry and darken over the next twenty-four hours.


The workshop was followed by a visit to the British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership project in St Pancras. Here a team of photographers, conservators, translators and cataloguers work together to make collection items related to the history of the Gulf and Arabic science available online via the QDL portal. In the conservation studio, we were introduced to paper conservation, binding techniques and shown examples of collection items undergoing conservation treatment. In the imaging studio, students were shown the plethora of specialist equipment used by imaging technicians to photograph a range of items, including Arabic manuscripts, books, loose-leaf items, maps, photographs and vinyl records. Students then shared their cyanotype prints with British Library staff, who in turn shared some of the creative projects they have worked on during Hack Days, where the imaging team respond to this historical material across different contexts. A zine by Hannah Nagle examined data and gender inequality through the collection, an animation by Renata Kaminska drew attention to damage in one manuscript caused by insects and Darran Murray’s interactive photogrammetry project of an astrolabe quadrant. The workshop and this interaction opened up a dialogue with the students of how historic material may be accessed by different creative practitioners, in different ways, making it relevant and being a valuable resource to build ideas from.


The tour ended with a viewing of a rare book of original cyanotypes by Julia Herschel – ‘A handbook of Greek Lace Making’ published in 1870. A selection of cyanotype prints from the workshop were then photographed in one of the British Library’s imaging studios. The intention is to create a zine for possible inclusion in the British Library’s permanent collection.

For artists wishing to explore the British Library collections, their Flickr account offers open access to public domain images and encourages people to explore and re-use. Images can also be downloaded from the Qatar Digital Library, which contains collection items that relate to the Gulf Region. The British Library Labs also support creative projects that use collections in innovative and inspiring ways.

Course Leader, MA Fine Art Digital: Jonathan Kearney.

Students: Alexis Rago, Betty Leung, Friederike Hoberg, Kelda Storm, Leah Yang, Matt Fratson, Taiyo Huang, Will Wright.

Presence of Absence on UAL

Last year I completed an MA in Digital Arts at Camberwell College of Arts. Today I found out that my Masters work is the new homepage image for the University of the Arts London website. Considering the quality of student work that comes out of these six London art colleges, this really is a huge honour. 



MA Digital Arts Show 2011, Private View Photos


Yesterday evening was the private view for our MA Digital Arts show at Camberwell College of Arts. Thank you to all those that came along.

To find out more about my MA work, please visit my project blog.

MA Digital Arts Show 2011


Over the past two years I have been working towards an MA in Digital Arts at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London. The final show will be taking place between 2-8 September 2011.

One of the things that makes the Digital Arts course at Camberwell unique is that it offers both an online and a face to face programme of study. This intensive programme is finally resolved when after months of online interaction, preparation and planning, artists from all over the world travel to Camberwell and install their work on-site.

This year the show features 17 practitioners from a diverse range of backgrounds including; Sculpture, Architecture, Music, Fashion, Illustration, Video, Graphic design, Programming, Hacking and Photography. The body of work on display is informed by a motive to explore and push the boundaries of digital technology and creative practice.

Open to public: Friday 2 September – Thursday 8 September (closed Sunday 4 September)

Private view: Tuesday 6 September 18.00 – 21.00

Opening hours: Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 20.00 / Saturday: 11.00 – 17.00

Camberwell College of Arts, 
University of the Arts London, 
45-65 Peckham Road, 

Follow us on Twitter.

Visit our show website.

Between Limit and Transgression: The play of Meaning at the Image’s Edge

Today I finished my MA project research paper. Time for a nice pint.


How can the frame of the two-dimensional still image instigate a tension between presence and absence, and a play between limit and transgression?

A frame, by conventional definition, is an assertion that the edges of the still image are necessary for containing and restricting representation. As a self-contained semiotic device, the frame presents to the viewer a sign, or a collection of signs, surrounded by an indeterminable nothingness, which can never come into view. The image frame’s purpose, then, is to make the world it contains ‘ordered and rational’ (Friedberg, 2009, p.42), by structuring, limiting and closing the field of two-dimensional representation with the intention to fix meaning and context neatly within its four borders.

This inquiry, however, challenges the notion that the frame presents fixed and stable meaning; instead the frame is a device that is capable of facilitating a dialogue between inside/ outside, presence/ absence. It is this indeterminable space outside the frame that the first part of this investigation looks at in depth. Examples from drawing and photography demonstrate instances when the edges of the image support a tension between what is present or viewable in the image, and what is absent, unseen, out of view, beyond its borders. Gilles Deleuze’s concept of the ‘out-of-field’ provides the theoretical basis for an exploration into how the still image is able to signify a “somewhere else” in space and time outside the frame (Deleuze, 2005, p.18).

The investigation then goes on to explore other ways in which the still image is able to transgress the fixity of the frame. The Exquisite Corpse and patchwork quilt exemplify a frame or grid with possibilities for limitless spatial expansion. In these procedural activities, the grid is the underlying ordering and sequencing mechanism, which structures a ‘dynamic tension’ between ‘rules and transgression’ (Kern, 2009, p.5). An examination of these ideas is then explored in relation to the pixel-based digital image, with its potential for infinite compositional transformation and spatial development.

This inquiry determines that the still image frame is capable of instigating a dialogical play or irresolvable tension, between what is present in the frame, and what is absent, beyond its borders. This inquiry also shows that the frame or gridded mechanism in dynamic spatial development facilitates a ‘movement of a chain’, a transformative process in which meaning and context are inherently boundless (Derrida, 1980, p.292).

Key words: Frame, Representation, Presence/ Absence, Semiotics, Play