Project Log - Week 1 of Informing Contexts; 27th January to 2nd February

Project-wise this week has been busy. I had what proved to be a tricky photoshoot on the 30th January. It was another ‘Virtual Futures Salon’ event that had been moved to a different venue at short notice due to it’s popularity. This was the first panel event I’d covered, everyone was rushed setting things up in an unfamiliar venue. The topic however was perfectly in keeping with my project aim; ‘Biohacked bodies’, a panel discussion on biohacking, implantable devices and human augmentation. The panel was an interesting one, though it only proved possible to take pictures of one of the panel before proceedings commenced. That  was a gentleman called Matt Eagles, a patient engagement advocate for a healthcare communication organisation he has suffered from Parkinson’s since he was seven and was one of the earliest in the UK to be implanted with a device linked to his brain that has greatly helped control his symptoms.

Graham Land: Matt Eagles, January, 2018

Graham Land: Matt Eagles, January, 2018

Graham Land:  Matt Eagles in a Virtual Futures Salon panel 'Biohacked Bodies',  London, January, 2018

Graham Land: Matt Eagles in a Virtual Futures Salon panel 'Biohacked Bodies', London, January, 2018

I later found that one reason there weren’t so many around was that some were being interviewed by BBC’s 5 live radio beforehand. So most of my shooting took place on the panel itself. As usual I shot ambient, relying on the stage lighting providing sufficient light. The venue, JuJu’s Bar and Stage near the Old Truman Brewery, Shoreditch. In many ways it was quite good, a very large room for a change. Apart from the usual difficulty of avoiding the large microphones favoured by the organiser getting in the way it’s very different following a moderator with a panel of four. I’d not had the opportunity to speak beforehand so it was a little surprised when a table was set up on the stage  half-way through the event and an RFID chip was implanted in a volunteers arm while the audience watched on a projection screen (I understand he already had three other chips on-board). While avoiding getting in the way of the audience I managed to mount the stage and get a few shots. At the end it proved even more difficult to catch one of the panellists, a BBC radio 4 crew was interviewing a couple and too much post-performance audience interest to get others before they left. Difficult.

Graham Land:  Insertion of an RFID chip into a volunteer during the Virtual Futures 'Biohacked bodies' even t, January, 2018

Graham Land: Insertion of an RFID chip into a volunteer during the Virtual Futures 'Biohacked bodies' event, January, 2018

Graham Land: A BBC radio 4 interview after the conclusion of the Virtual Futures Salon's 'Biohacked Bodies' event

Graham Land: A BBC radio 4 interview after the conclusion of the Virtual Futures Salon's 'Biohacked Bodies' event

This week I also managed to arrange a visit to Central Saint Martins (CSM) library in their new site near Granary Square, Kings Cross. Part of the London University of the Arts I’d previously visited their library at the London College of Communication (LCC), Elephant and Castle, but for me living in Croydon Kings Cross is much easier to get to. The main catch is that you HAVE to book as a visitor at least two working days in advance. On the plus side it’s an excellent place to study and has a similar quota of photographic books to those at the LCC. Learned I could apply for a library card as a SCONAL student. It’s not a full library card, limited to three of their long-term load category books. Given the reading list for this module it seems a must have.

Earlier in the month I’d conducted a previously arranged shoot with Jim Smith, a very senior scientist. The new director of Science for the Wellcome Foundation, a scientific charity only beaten in size by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he also runs a lab in the new Francis Crick Institute, situated between the British library and St. Pancreas station. Jim had been one of the team that managed the design of the facility and until his recent appointment had held a senior position at the Institute.

Graham Land:  Jim Smith at the Francis Crick Research Institute , London, January, 2018

Graham Land: Jim Smith at the Francis Crick Research Institute, London, January, 2018

It wasn’t my best of shoots. I’d been a bit nervous beforehand and though Jim couldn’t have been more accommodating, he  gave  me nearly an hour of his time and let me take shots in a number of places, I don’t think I made full advantage of that opportunity. It was a grey wintry day, which was probably helpful given the amount of glass in the roof of the central part of the building. I used a single fill-in flash that was only partially successful in the laboratory area. Bother.