Alternative Perspectives Collection 2013

Digital photomontages harnessing the creative potential of the scanning electron microscope at the University of Central Lancashire to create highly magnified images of everyday objects, plants and creatures. The photographs form a foundation layer that is manipulated with the juxtaposing of additional imagery to make social commentary about the way we live and our relationship to the earth.

Part of the Beautiful Dystopias Project founded during Jac Scott’s sixteen-month artist-in-residence position at University of Central Lancashire.


Alternative Perspectives: Genius Loci (fly)

This digital photomontage takes the image of a fly’s compound eye magnified 150 times, photographed using a scanning electron microscope, as its foundation.  Inserted ‘inside’ the eye is a window of an old farm building that, intrigued by its dark interior and a small rectangle of light on the opposite wall, insinuated an image of hope – but what do you see?


Alternative Perspectives: Preoccupation (moss)

To communicate is to be alive, to be active, in relation with others…For communication is essentially an interchange, a question and a reply, an action and a reaction between an individual and the environment in which he lives.

Maurice Fabre      A History of Communications

Our preoccupation with computer technology creates a symbiotic relationship that endorses a dependence on staying in touch by harnessing electronic media as the vehicle – but is this preference an opt-out or opt-in for meaningful dialogue?  Text messaging, emails, blogging, social networking using Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc all require writing and yet our literacy standards are going down – is the power of the written word changing to mere elemental levels?

Does the sequestration of technology limit our ability to communicate with our environment and therefore inhibit our understanding of the natural and untamed?

The image below was taken of a fragment of moss using a scanning electron microscope at the University of Central Lancashire during the residency. The digital montage features computer mice collaged onto the photograph to mimic seedpods growing out of the plant.


Alternative Perspectives: Heart of Darkness (granite)

Hidden remains break the surface to reveal the many lives lost whilst extracting precious metals and rare earth elements to feed our insatiable appetite for the new technology. Mining of these valuable minerals has an allure for the profiteer to pay scant attention to the health and welfare of its workforce.  Whilst the poor peoples ignore safety in preference to eking out a living, by digging with their rudimentary equipment, to find a few nuggets that will mean food on their tables. Society pays little heed to the highly dangerous practices experienced by the miners, instead electing to pay a nominal price whilst ruminating on the latest gadget or item of jewellery to purchase.


Alternative Perspectives: Infatuation (lichen)

Deep inside a minute piece of lichen, evidence of our infatuation with the electronic screen is compounded with a family of historical figurines absorbed in the wonders of the pictorial rectangle.



Alternative Perspectives: Hive (vinyl flotex carpet)

Digital photomontage created from a photograph of flotex carpet magnified 100 times using a scanning electron microscope at uclan – images of real bees and actual gas masks.

The work above was created in response to the research investigating the decline in bee population and its possible causes.  The alarming news that bee decline has reached 30% in the western world has made the issue become mainstream news.  The value of this insect to us is difficult to estimate, in 2005 the figure £130 billion was made, as it is vital for pollinating our crops. 90% of the world’s food focuses on a hundred crop species and over 70 of these rely on bees to pollinate them.

Scientists have shown that the grave reduction in bee numbers is due to air pollution, intensive farming, over-cropping, loss of flowering plants, decline in beekeepers, a lethal pinhead-sized parasite that has been wiping out colonies in the last 30 years (Varroa destructor) and most importantly the increased use of pesticides and herbicides.

The insecticide neonicotinoid has negative affects on the bee colonies – it has been shown to scramble their navigation systems so they get lost. Sold since 1994 the insecticide forms a coat on the seeds which is then absorbed into the growing plant where some is ingested by the bees. The latest thinking is to ban these chemicals but some scientists and beekeepers are still unconvinced that the replacements will fair better with the insect.