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Making the invisible visible

CRT heat portraitThis is the first time that I have worked with enamel. A small steel plate with coloured powder glass on top, backed to 800°C so that the glass melts into a hard smooth enamel. The image is an infrared portrait of Sue. Along with our visual image, the one that everyone can see, we emit a heat image, infrared rays coming from us and then, just like light, reflecting off surrounding surfaces. What is intriguing about infrared portraits is that they are invisible. So here, the surface is made of brushed metal, so when you look into it you see…brushed metal. It is not reflective, not shiny like a mirror, so no visible reflection. However, turn on the infrared camera and there is an infrared portrait of Sue. She is off to the right of the picture (you can see her hand with a ring on it), talking to Neil who is off to the left of the picture (you can see his hands too), and the camera is looking over Neil’s shoulder, and between them the reflection of Sue in the brushed metal. I like the idea that as you walk down the street invisible images of yourself are appearing in windows, along the sides of cars, in street signs quite undetected by the naked eye. I have just produced a series of enamels for the Canals and River Trust in Gloucester, part of a project called Navigable Waters that has been curated and produced by artNucleus with Stroud Valleys Artspace..

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