Images from my Athabasca series are to be exhibited as part of a group show called Survive at The London College of Communication. The exhibition forms part of Green Week and will be open to the public from the 6th-16th February. The Private view will be on the 12th February. See the Press Release below for more details.
There will also be a debate held at the college from 2.30-5.30pm before the private view, discussing the role of the media in campaigning for social change and environmental awareness. Booking is required. Details here.
This is another long overdue post. Above and below are some images and tearsheets from a few of the commissions I’ve had recently. The first is of the film producer David Heyman, best known for producing the Harry Potter films and more recently for Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I photographed David at Claridges in London.
John Griffith worked with the Safe Water Trust to develop the Aquafilter, which is a very cleverly designed pump for purifying water in emergency situations. The filter is distributed by humanitarian aid agencies around the World. I photographed John at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.
The portrait below is of ‘social entrepreneur’ Paul Hilder. Paul founded opendemocracy.net, co-founded 38 Degrees, helped launch Avaaz.org in 2007, was Director of Campaigns for Oxfam and is now the Vice President of Global Campaigns at Change.org. I photographed him on Old Street in London for Wired Magazine (Italy).
My Electrosensitive series continues to gain more exposure. I have been invited to screen my short film at Reframe, a documentary film festival in Canada in January 2014. I will post up details of screening venue and times when they come available on facebook and twitter. I also have some portraits from the series on show in Salon/13 at Photofusion Gallery in Brixton in London. The exhibition is running in collaboration with Hotshoe Magazine and is on show from the 12th December to the 24th January 2014.
Below are a few photos from my pop-up exhibition Portraits of a High Street which was held in Cricklewood in North West London at the end of September. The exhibition was of 150 framed portraits of business owners in Cricklewood. As explained in my previous post, the project was a commission for Gort Scott and The Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to help regenerate high streets around the capital. The exhibition was held at Navruz in Cricklewood in conjunction with Spacemakers, Polimekanos and the Cricklewood Improvement Programme.
Each portrait was framed and mounted with a bespoke laser cut Cricklewood mount. After the exhibition finished, each framed print was distributed to the businesses that took part in the project to create a long-term exhibition of the photos.
Note: I will be in Australia from the 12th December to the 6th January 2014. I will be answering emails while I am away and will endeavour to reply as quickly as possible.
I’ve been working on some interesting and varied assignments over the past couple of months, while also continuing work on my documentary series on Electrosensitivity. Here are a few snippets of what I’ve been up to.
The portrait above is of Irish actor Aidan Gillen, shot for the The New Review Magazine in the Independent on Sunday. He’s well known for his roles in The Wire, Queer as Folk, Love Hate and most recently Game of Thrones. I photographed him in my old home town of Dublin. I had read that he doesn’t enjoy having his photograph taken so I wasn’t sure what to expect when we met. However, thankfully he was very generous with his time and was a real pleasure to work with. You can read the interview with him here.
The last image deserves some sort of explanation. Before the shoot, when we were discussing what clothes Aidan should wear, he suggested that he bring a witch’s hat along with him. I had assumed he was joking, until he turned up at the studio with a hat and wig and said he wanted to try them out in one of the set ups. Despite playing some unsavoury characters on screen, it was nice to know he had a good sense of humour!
I was also recently commissioned to write an article about my project Electrosensitive for Photoworks. They commissioned three articles to coincide with the Brighton Digital Festival 2013 to offer ‘varied responses to questions on photography and digital culture.’ You can read my essay Outliers in a Wireless World … here. I am continuing work on the second phase of Electrosensitive and am hoping to have some interesting updates before the end of the year.
The Royal Photographic Society’s 156th International Print Exhibition which I have images in has just moved to The Civic Gallery in Barnsley. The exhibition will be on show there until the 1st November. It then moves to the Michael Heseltine Gallery in Oxfordshire on the 11th November until the 13th December. Go check out the exhibition if you’re near either of those venues at those times.
150 portraits of mine from a recent commission for The Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund will go on show next Thursday 26th September, at a pop-up Exhibition on Cricklewood Broadway in North West London. The exhibition will run in conjunction with Spacemakers’ innovative Mobile Town Square, which you can read more about in this Creative Review article. I will post up details of the time and location on twitter and facebook so keep an eye out there for updates. [UPDATE - 7/10/13: You can see images from the pop-up exhibition on my Facebook page here].
Lastly, I recently finished a very interesting and insightful book called The Spirit Level. I’m sure many of you will have heard of it before as it made quite a stir when it was first published in 2009. It has some very hard hitting truths about inequality in the UK and many other developed countries. The book is not without its critics, but I’d highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already. There is now a documentary film in the making to follow on from the book.
I will post up images from other recent assignments for Wired Magazine and Skype in my next post.
For the last few weeks I’ve been busy working on a large commission for the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund. I will explain more when the images are out in the public domain. In the meantime here are some portraits from two other recent commissions. The first image is a portrait of historian Katy Layton-Jones photographed in the disused subway entrance into Crystal Palace Park in south London – an amazing space that local residents are campaigning to get reopened to the public.
The second is a portrait of up-and-coming musician Rafael Rozenson.
I have also recently been picked as a UK winner for the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2013, and one of my images from my series Electrosensitive has been selected for the Royal Photographic Society’s 156th International Print Exhibition.
This is an excerpt from a short film I’m making about people who suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS).
This video and my photographs were shown on the Guardian website and were also published in the Weekend Magazine on the 30th March 2013 (see tear sheets below).
You can view more of the portraits from the project on my website.
I hope to screen the full version of the film alongside an exhibition of the photographs later this year. For more details keep a look out on my blog or follow me on twitter
I have had an incredible response to my project Electrosensitive: Outliers in a Wireless World since it was published online and in the Guardian weekend magazine at the end of March, with people getting in touch from all round the world. However, there has been some confusion as to whether this project was commissioned by the Guardian or whether it was initiated by me. So, just to clarify, I self initiated this project back in early 2012 and self funded it entirely. I brought the complete project – interviewees, photos and video excerpt – to the Guardian. They then commissioned Nicholas Blincoe to write an article about EHS, and as part of that he spoke to a selection of people who have taken part in my ongoing documentary.
As mentioned in my previous post, I have been working on a documentary project over the last year looking at the condition Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity or EHS*. The project is called Electrosensitive: Outliers in a Wireless World.
During my travels around the country, I’ve met a wide variety of people along the way; individuals who suffer from EHS, parents who are concerned about the impact of mobile phones and wi-fi on their children’s health, and scientists and academics who have studied and analysed the condition, and the wider issue of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and public health.
As I sit here writing this in my office, I am surrounded by computer equipment, a wireless router, cordless phone, wireless printer, mobile phone and an array of other devices that emit electromagnetic fields. My office would be unbearable for the majority of the people with EHS, yet I can work here seemingly unaffected. This was one of the reasons why I was drawn to this topic and have found it so fascinating to work on. What started as an initial interest to know more, became an exploration.
Over the past 12 months, I have read a huge amount of material on EHS as a condition and the effects of man-made electromagnetic fields on our health. Some papers I have read have made me think that I should pack up all the equipment I have into boxes, insulate my house and begin a device-free lifestyle in the mountains. Yet I’ve read others that have assured me that I have nothing to worry about, and that any concerns people may have are unfounded. Seemingly qualified and highly distinguished academics and scientists from either side of the debate are saying very different things.
In working on this project, my intention is not to provide all the answers or prove the science on either side of the debate. I don’t have the expertise, time, or team of researchers to prove conclusively either way. However, I approached this project with an open mind. The people who agreed to be interviewed have shown courage in talking publicly about EHS. My hope is that they are treated with empathy and respect and their stories and concerns are acknowledged and taken seriously. The condition and the debate surrounding mobile phones and wireless technologies is very contentious and divisive. When someone speaks openly about even the possibility of negative health effects they are often met with disbelief, dismissal or accused of scaremongering. Moreover, the vociferous debate about whether these technologies are carcinogenic or not has tended to drown out any conversation about other possible non-carcinogenic biological effects on human health.
Everyone has an opinion on this issue, some are well informed, some are not. I would urge anyone who wants to know more about the topic to look at some of the links at the bottom of this post, before passing judgement or drawing conclusions.
The publication of my images and video excerpt in the Guardian is not the end point of this project for me. I will continue more research and will be shooting more material throughout the year with the view to putting on an exhibition and screening of the full version of my film. In the meantime, you can find images and info on my website.
For those of you looking for more information – the papers and reports below are a good starting point. These are just the tip of the iceberg so this is not meant to be an exhaustive list.
The Council of Europe (2011) – “The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment”
World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s classification of EMF as possibly carcinogenic (2011) – See note below about this.
The European Environment Agency’s report (2013) – “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation” Pages 541-557
The UK Health Protection Agency Report (2012) – “Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”
The BioIntiative Report (2012) – “A Rationale for Biologically-based Exposure Standards for Low Intensity Electromagnetic Radiation”
COSMOS website – An international cohort study investigating possible health effects from long term use of mobile phones and other wireless technologies at Imperial College London.
Cancer Research UK blog post about IARC classification of EMF (2011)
Paper by Prof. Andrew Marino (Louisiana State University) International Journal of Neuroscience Paper (2011) – Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Evidence for a Novel Neurological Syndrome
Prof. Andrew Marino’s Book - “Electromagnetism and Life”
Dr. James Rubin’s (King’s College London) British Medical Journal Paper – “Are People Sensitive to Mobile Phones” (2006)
Dr James Rubin’s review of provocation studies on EHS (2011).
Prof Olle Johansson, Karolinska Institute Sweden (2006) – “Electrohypersensitivity: State of the Art of a Functional Impairment”
Stephen Genuis, University of Alberta Canada (2011) – “Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity – Fact or Fiction”
ECOLOG-Institute paper commissioned by T-Mobile (2000) – “Review of the current scientific research in view of precautionary health protection”
Electrosensitivity UK charity website.
Note about IARC’s Class 2b classification.
The classification of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a Class 2b carcinogen, (‘possibly carcinogenic’) by IARC in 2011 has, as expected, divided opinion. Those who believe this is nothing to be concerned about, will cite that coffee and carpentry are also class 2b carcinogens. Yet those who are very concerned by this classification, will cite that DDT and exhaust fumes are also in the same category. This approach is misleading, as Lennart Hardell in his report for the European Environment Agency outlines below…
“Different agents in the same classification group are evaluated on the basis of very different kinds of evidence and exposure conditions that are specific for each substance. Some 2B agents will be at the lower end of the probability range, others will be close to the nearly one in two probability and the rest are somewhere in between, depending on their very specific characteristics. By loosely lumping together several randomly chosen carcinogens from the 271 in Group 2B such as dry cleaning fumes and coffee, which invites comparison to mobile phones, journalists and others help to complicate the already difficult discussion about the likelihood of cancer risks. Each agent needs to be considered on its own evidence.”
Lennart Hardell (2013) Pg 554 “Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation” European Environment Agency
You can find the full IARC list here.
* I am aware that there are a variety of other names and acronyms, but to avoid confusion I am referring to it as EHS or electrosensitivity.
Looking back on 2012, it has been a good year and I’ve been lucky to work on some great jobs over the past 12 months for a host of new and existing clients. Alongside commissions, I have also been busily working on a self-initiated documentary series since April. As I’m now coming to the end of it, I’ll give a quick introduction into what I’ve been working on.
The series focuses on a controversial condition known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS). Sufferers report a multitude of symptoms, such as headaches, memory impairment, heart palpitations, sleep disorder, chest discomfort, fatigue and nausea. The main causes of which are attributed to man-made Electromagnetic fields, and in particular those from mobile phone and wireless internet technologies.
Given that the range and severity of symptoms and their triggers vary significantly amongst sufferers, on top of the fact that many of the symptoms can be attributed to other common ailments, it has been incredibly difficult for sufferers to prove the condition as bona fide. As a result, EHS has divided opinion among scientific and medical experts who research the condition.
Once someone has identified themselves as suffering from EHS, they often have to make difficult and radical changes to their lives; like moving to a remote part of the country, leaving or changing their job, cutting themselves off from wireless internet and mobile phones, and insulating their home to limit electromagnetic fields from penetrating the walls and windows. In doing so, their actions are often met with disbelief, doubt and ridicule from family, friends, work colleagues and employers. They are accused of being technophobes and are told that their symptoms are psychosomatic. As a result, EHS sufferers can feel isolated and let down by the medical profession and their government, and many choose not to talk about the condition, for fear of how they will be treated.
The official government line and that of the UK National Health Protection Agency is that there is not enough scientific evidence to support claims that these technologies have any negative health impacts, either short or long-term. They acknowledge that they need more time to know for sure, but at present they tell us that there is no need to worry.
Yet, if you dig beneath the press releases and corporate statements you’ll find that the answer is not so straight forward, especially since there are a growing number of scientific studies published that contradict the official guidelines.
I have been working with a number of charities in the UK and have traveled round the country meeting people who suffer from EHS, and some of the medical experts working in the area. I shot on large format film to allow for an analogue process where requested and conducted interviews with each person.
The photographs, article and video should be ready for release in early 2013. I will post up some portraits and more detailed information about the condition at a later date. For those of you who want to know a bit more now, this extensive report is a good starting point.
In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!
The image above is from a series I was commissioned to shoot for the December/January issue of Modus Magazine . You can see the online version of the magazine here.
I shot the image of Piccadilly Circus originally for Geo Magazine. It was recently reprinted in the Guardian when they asked me to talk about the story behind the photograph for an article in G2. You can read it here.
This post is long overdue. I got back from a fantastic trip along the Pacific Northwest coast of the states a few weeks ago, and since then have busy with commissions and work on my current documentary (I will give details about this in due course). In the meantime, here are a few portraits which I’ve shot recently and some images from my trip.
The portraits above are of Tim Steiner, taken at his apartment in London. The images were published in Libération (France) and Le Temps (Switzerland). The large tattoo on his back was made by the infamous Belgian artist Wim Delvoye in 2006 and sold to art collector Rik Reinking for €150,000. As part of the deal, Tim must exhibit himself as a piece of art a number of times each year and when he dies, the ‘skin canvas’ will be surgically removed and given to the owner. Tim was exhibited earlier in the year at MONA in Tasmania (the largest privately funded museum in Australia) and then again briefly this summer at The Louvre in Paris as part of a big show for Delvoye.
If you’re interest you can read more about Tim here on his blog or you can watch him in this recent music video by British band Alt-J.
If you like that video, you might like this other song by Alt-J which makes reference to photographers Robert Capa and Gurda Taro.
The portrait below was shot for Modus magazine. Edward Cini has worked on site for the last 4 years overseeing the construction of the Shard. You can read the latest issue of the magazine here.
I’m also involved in another exhibition at the end of the month. My portrait of John Hurt was selected for the AOP Open Awards. The opening night of the exhibition will take place on 25 October from 6pm, at Dray Walk Gallery, Truman Brewery, East London. More details here.
Below are a few scans from my trip to the Pacific Northwest, shot in some of the incredible landscapes of Washington, Oregon and Northern California. I’ll upload more images when I get round to scanning them.
If you don’t know the history of the eruption of Mount St Helens, it’s worth having a read about it here.