The SIM Project: Connecting People and Places

‘Drawing on their expertise in photographic processes and jewellery, CFPR researchers Sofie Boons and Frank Menger along with artist and anthroplogist Liz Hingley, and the technical assistance of Research Technician Michael Joyce, have developed a hybrid production method employing 3D printing, analogue darkroom techniques and the craft of silversmithing, to replicate traditional Victorian keepsake jewellery with a digital twist. Using historic photographic methods, in particular the wet-plate collodion process and dry gelatin emulsion photography on glass, photographic portraiture will be created in a 21st century digital context from images produced with handheld mobile phone devices.’

Taking a 35mm analogue camera as a starting point, the team have re-designed the camera’s film compartment and created a bespoke 3D printed plate holder to accommodate a glass SIM card coated with handmade photographic emulsion, which is exposed and processed in a portable darkroom box. The resulting positive image is then inserted into a handcrafted silver pendant, designed by Sofie Boons, mirroring the design of the ubiquitous SIM card, and to be worn as an open keepsake piece of jewellery on a necklace. The pendant holder has a brass plate inserted behind the image to provide a golden glow, and to act as a backing for a personalised inscription.

Camera and 3d printed plate holder
SIM card image
Prototype SIM card pendant

Liz Hingley is developing The SIM Project as part of her residency at Kings College London with Dr Zeena Feldman. The project is inspired by ongoing dialogue with refugees about the role of the SIM card in fostering independence, belonging and imagined futures in a new place (Hingley, 2022). Through working with photographic specialist Frank Menger and Jewellery expert Sofie Boons at the CFPR, Liz has opened up a collaboration between the Digital Humanities Department at Kings College London and the Centre for Print Research, to run workshops in Bristol, London and beyond. In these generative and interactive workshops, participants will be able to materialise precious exchanges that connect loved ones across time and place through our new process. A series of these workshops showcasing the process and the newly developed equipment will launch in July at Science Gallery London, followed by an exhibition of the precious artworks September – December 2022. The team plan to tour the workshops and exhibition, and have received interest from the Royal Photographic Society in Bristol and Aalto University, Helsinki. 

Read more about Liz Hingley’s work

This project is sponsored by 4JET microtech GmbH, Germany

Image top of post: Silver pendant with glass SIM card portrait and brass backing

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