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 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*.
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. I am planning an exhibition and a screening of the full version of the film before the end of 2013. 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.
This will be a short post. I hope you’re all having a good summer, and if you’re into sport, enjoying the London Olympics.
I’ve been on the move around the country a lot these past few weeks with a mixture of commissions and work for a large new project I’ve started. One recent shoot was for the July issue of Modus magazine, which is focussing on coastlines this month. Charles Green (below) is Marine Energy Asset Manager for the Crown Estate, which I was surprised to hear still owns “55% of the UK’s foreshore, including harbours, ports, marinas, pipelines, half the tidal river beds and virtually all of the UK seabed.” He’s photographed here on an instruction course to prepare him for climbing offshore wind turbines.
Last week, I was commissioned to photograph Lord Paddy Ashdown for Libération at his beautiful home in rural Somerset. He was a pleasure to work with and is an incredibly interesting man to meet and talk to. I’ll post up images and details once the article is published. In the meantime, some of you may find his TED talk on the ‘Global Power Shift’ interesting…
I am off to Washington State, Oregon and California for a few weeks, so I will write a more extensive post when I get back in September. I hope to have some interesting photos to post up from my travels.
Following on from my involvement at the Flash Forward Festival in Boston, I have work featuring in two more exhibitions this summer. The first, which I’ve mentioned in a previous post, is the London Open at the Whitechapel Gallery.
2012 marks the 80th anniversary of the Gallery’s open submission exhibition which started in 1932 as the East End Academy, and then later became the Whitechapel Open and now finally the London Open. It has showcased artists early in their careers such as Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Julian Opie, Cornelia Parker, Grayson Perry, Bob & Roberta Smith, Richard Wentworth and Rachel Whiteread. This year, there were over 1800 applicants, from which, just thirty five were selected for the show.
I am excited to be exhibiting my work at this prestigious gallery, alongside such a diverse group of established and emerging artists. I will be exhibiting a set of large format prints from my Athabasca series, which looks at the environmental impact of the oil sands industry on the landscape of Northern Alberta, Canada.
The exhibition opens on the 4th July and runs until the 14th September 2012, and will feature work in a diverse range of media from photography, painting, sculpture, film and textile to installation and performance.
I also found out recently that my portrait of John Hurt (below) has been selected for the Foto8 Summer Show at their gallery on Honduras Street in London. This is the 5th year of the annual exhibition and will “feature 159 framed photographs, selected from some 3200 entries spanning over 30 countries”. It runs from 7th July to 18th August.
If you’re passionate about photography, there is a lot going on this summer to keep you busy. Here are a few suggestions to check out in London over the next month.
The London Festival of Photography, which runs until the end of June, has a lot to offer… of which I highly recommend going to check out Simon Robert’s Let this be a Sign at The Swiss Cottage Gallery and The Great British Public at Dog Eared Gallery. Then there is the excellent Ed Burtynsky’s exhibition Oil at the refurbished Photographer’s Gallery in Soho until the 1st July, followed by the Deutsche Börse Prize from the 13th July till the 9th September.
If you want more ideas, check out this handy festival guide on the Telegraph website.
Just a quick update with a few of the portraits I shot recently.
I was recently commissioned to shoot a portrait of Giuseppe Mascoli, who owns the Franco Manca pizza restaurants in London. I photographed him at his restaurant in Brixton, where I’ve been going to for some years now. I recommend going to check it out for yourself or alternatively you can take a class with Giuseppe and learn how to make his pizzas instead.
I was also commissioned to photograph Derren Brown and Patrick Hughes. Many of you will know Derren from his tv shows on Channel 4, what some of you might not know, is he’s actually an artist as well. Check out his blog here for some examples of his work. Patrick Hughes on the other hand is a well known artist, who is famous for his ‘reverspectives’. Anyone who has walked passed his studio on Great Eastern street in East London will have probably taken a peek in the window to see what’s going on. If you haven’t, and you want to know what he’s been up to, watch this short video here. Patrick will be holding open days at the studio on the 5th May, 2nd June and 7th July.
Lastly, here’s a tearsheet from a shoot I did for the April issue of Modus Magazine. For more images, you can view the online copy of the magazine here.
March was a busy month for me with a nice variety of portrait and architectural shoots on location. For instance I’ve been working for Libération, The Independent on Sunday magazine, Modus Magazine and was away last week in Budapest for an advertising shoot for Dublin-based agency Ground 4D. This is just a short post, but I will put up images and more details when they are out in the public domain.
The portrait above is of the American Jazz singer Gregory Porter who I photographed recently. Gregory is a rising star in the world of Jazz and has an incredible voice. I photographed him during a break in his sound check for the show he had on that night, and although he was busy, he was incredibly nice and easy to work with. If you’re interested, I recommend you check out this track from his new album. The shoot was for Libération and you can see the tearsheet here.
Also, I came across this interesting Channel 4 program The Shooting Gallery (via the Troika editions newsletter) with a great multimedia piece in the middle by photographer Ian Teh on his series Dark Cloud. It’s definitely worth checking out. Fast forward to around 18 minutes, to see his work specifically.
A very belated Happy New Year to you all.
I had a great Christmas back in Ireland. It’s always nice to be back on the ol’ sod and catch up with family, and get away from the madness of London for a bit. I enjoyed a lot of countryside walks and had the pleasure of celebrating New Years Eve with some friends in the wilds of Connemara. The view above was from the back door of the cottage we were in…somehow I was convinced to go for a swim in that lake as a refreshing way to ring in the new year!
Since then, I’ve been back in London editing the shoot I was working on for GEO in December (photos to follow next month). Then last week I returned to photograph one of the last residents living in the Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke in South London. Demolition has progressed a lot and it is pretty grim for the two or three remaining people living there. It’s not a nice place to be left in as many of the buildings are being pulled down around them. It seems to be a recurrent problem, where developers and councils will make pledges that the ‘decanting’ of residents will run smoothly and alternative accommodation will be found for them before demolition begins. In reality this rarely happens.
I will post up some portraits from this series very soon.
I have photos up in two travelling exhibitions in the next couple of months. My images that were exhibited at Galerie Huit as part of Les Rencontres d’Arles in the summer of 2011 have now moved to Penang in Malaysia (details here) and my Dubai images that were selected for the Flash Forward awards 2011 are moving from Toronto to The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, in Portland, Maine, USA. March 2nd – May 4th 2012. More details here.
With the recent events surrounding Kodak, there has been a lot of speculation about this being the end of film and the end of an era. Read this BJP article article for a bit of context. I don’t use film for every shoot, but I still use it a lot, and I know I’m not the only one.