James Dean Diamond

OVERDUE is excit­ed to fea­ture James Dean Dia­mond, a con­tem­po­rary British artist who uses sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy mixed with pho­tog­ra­phy and sound, to cre­ate his unique art­work. We asked James to give us an overview of his work and process.

“Cas­tle Keep”

“My prac­tice is defined by notions of escapism, where projects are under­pinned by a sto­ry­telling nar­ra­tive. Ear­li­er in my career, the inves­ti­ga­tion was realised through por­trai­ture and fash­ion, draw­ing upon lit­er­a­ture, film and classical/pop music from my teen years and child­hood. Dur­ing this fig­u­ra­tive peri­od, inspi­ra­tion was tak­en from pho­tog­ra­phers such as Sarah Moon, Deb­o­rah Turbeville, Steven Meisel, and the arrest­ing works by Pao­lo Rover­si, to this day, Ital­ian Vogue remains a resource. For me, these pho­tog­ra­phers cre­ate char­ac­ters and envi­ron­ments that pos­sess an ecto­plas­mic and ethe­re­al qual­i­ty, while inhab­it­ing an alter­nate plane of exis­tence.”


“I seek to cre­ate art­work that shapes our per­cep­tion beyond the real­ism of every­day life. Rather than approach pho­tog­ra­phy as a doc­u­men­tary form, I employ the cam­era as a device to cre­ate shifts with­in the urban envi­ron­ment, where works slip into a dis­solved meta phys­i­cal state — mak­ing the intan­gi­ble tan­gi­ble, per­mit­ting the invis­i­ble to be revealed.”

“Part of the work is char­ac­terised as an altered real­i­ty, to con­sid­er the metrop­o­lis as an orches­tra­tion of reflect­ed light, stream­ing and oscil­lat­ing the sol­id form. Through this lens, even the most inan­i­mate object is in a state of flux — there is the poten­tial to sus­pend the per­ma­nent state, and dis­in­te­grate into a hid­den cor­ri­dor of time and ener­gy. Once I immerse myself with­in this mind­set, I become an enti­ty which inter­acts with­in this sea of ener­gized pho­tons. A pho­ton is a par­ti­cle rep­re­sent­ing a quan­tum of light or oth­er elec­tro­mag­net­ic radi­a­tion. …It car­ries ener­gy pro­por­tion­al to the radi­a­tion fre­quen­cy but has zero rest mass — as such, the pho­ton is a fine sub atom­ic medi­um, many thou­sand times fin­er than par­ti­cles of paint, giv­ing the pho­to­graph­ic medi­um the scope for intri­cate mark mak­ing capa­bil­i­ties.”

“Pri­or to pho­tog­ra­phy, I was an elec­tron­ic and mechan­i­cal engi­neer, as an artist, my view is to inter­pret an under­stand­ing of the world with the­o­ret­i­cal sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts, to vision worlds with imag­i­na­tion. With my long-term cura­tor, Samia Ashraf, we are cur­rent­ly the Artist in Res­i­dence at the Genome Dam­age and Sta­bil­i­ty Cen­tre, part of the School of Life Sci­ences at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex. The Bax­ter Lab is a lead­ing DNA research lab and our col­lab­o­ra­tion has led to a body of pho­to­graph­ic work Still Points & Sea Beams. Here, the inten­tion is to visu­alise and make pal­pa­ble the DNA in its for­ma­tion, when mol­e­c­u­lar activ­i­ty occurs inside the cells. Set­ting a work­ing brief, I devel­op as an amino acid mov­ing through the city, the conur­ba­tion rep­re­sents the nucle­us of the cell.”

“By using sci­ence con­cepts to shape and for­mu­late a method­ol­o­gy for devis­ing pho­to­graph­ic tech­niques, enrich­es the pos­si­bil­i­ties for the work; for exam­ple, by under­stand­ing DNA is fun­da­men­tal­ly a mol­e­cule assem­bling process — I shoot var­i­ous urban set­tings using sev­er­al angles of view, these are assem­bled and lay­ered to achieve a com­plex image that retains a high den­si­ty of infor­ma­tion.”

“To have a human sto­ry work­ing along­side the sci­ence inquiry, one that touch­es the view­er on an emo­tive lev­el, as well as a polit­i­cal ele­ment which observes the volatile peri­od soci­ety is fac­ing is key. Still Points and Sea Beams illus­trates par­al­lel con­cerns, the cycli­cal bat­tles of the bio­log­i­cal field and com­plex­i­ty of human exis­tence through an emo­tive sug­ges­tion. Sev­er­al pieces rep­re­sent abstract­ed bat­tle­fields and the mass move­ment of peo­ple, the depic­tion of the human fig­ures is reduced to ambigu­ous marks sug­ges­tive of mol­e­cule strand struc­tures.”


The works shown here are from projects Cas­tle Keep, Dream­ing of Le Gibet & Still Points and Sea Beams — for more infor­ma­tion, please go to: www.jamesdeandiamond.com