The Fundamental Units by Photographer Martin John Callanan

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Photographer Martin John Callanan, a Teaching Fellow at the University College (London), an intense researcher, Editor of Leonardo Electronic Almanac and Publisher at a online artworks site called Merkske. That’s the kind of informed background he comes from.

His work over the years has included translations of “active communication data into music; freezing in time the earth’s water system; writing thousands of letters; capturing newspapers from around the world as they are published; taming wind onto the internet and broadcasting his precise physical location live for over two years.”

With scores of published and displayed works in Europe, The Americas, Asia and Australia, we loved his absolutely tech savvy project – The Fundamental Units.

With the bitcoins being all the rage and global economies facing a currency crisis here and there, countries constantly revamp or abolish their lowest denominations time and again.

Categorized as “worthless coins” in the economic setup, Callanan initiated to save all such currencies from across 166 countries. Not by taking up a anti-wipeout campaign but capturing these lost coins with his lens.

The creative series was first kickstarted with the works of Horrach Moya Gallery. The artist teamed up with the National Physical Laboratory(NPL) in U.K, that boasts off having Europe’s best 3D microscope.

The coins are photographed with 4,000 individual exposures and processed over a span of three days to produce these marvellous single photogrraphs shown below. Each of them weighs approximately 400 megapixels and measures 1.2X1.2 meteres, a good 3.9 square feet.

Martin opines that the high defination photography reveals the the “material makeup of the coin, marks and traces from their use as tokens of exchange.”

An interesting tidbit about currencies before you can check out these beautiful reproduction of coins from Australia, Chile, The Euro, Mynamar, Kingdom Of Swaziland.

Every coin the US State Treasury mints to produce 1 cent coin costs them 2 cents. Its best to undesratnd the value of the metal and the human resources that go into producing a small denomination of the currency. With people dealing everyday in millions and billions, probably the value of a cent goes unrecognized.

Do have a look at Martin’s samples below.

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Big photos of little coins: National Physical Laboratory

National Physical Laboratory (NPL) wrote:

Martin John Callanan of the Slade School of Fine Art at University College London contacted the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) as he wanted to put together an exhibition featuring large images of the lowest denomination coins from around the world.

Petra Mildeova from NPL’s Advanced Engineered Materials Group demonstrated that full colour images could be taken using an infinite focus 3D optical microscope. Five coins were imaged (containing over 400 megapixels), allowing coins of less than 20 mm diameter to be printed as 1.2 m diameter images.

 

Martin John Callanan described the images as “really stunning” and is exhibiting them at the Galleria Horrach Moyà in Mallorca, Spain, in an exhibition entitled ‘The Fundamental Units‘ (referring to the smallest denomination of coins on display and not as a result of working with NPL, the home of fundamental constants in the UK). He now hopes to enhance his exhibition by imaging a further 161 coins, one from each of the other countries around the world that use them.

 

The images have attracted interest from the British Museum and were featured by New Scientist as their image of the day on 4 December 2012.

 

The mapping of large areas at very high resolution is becoming a more regular requirement. In fact, the capabilities of the microscope used to produce the images of the coins were barely stretched, as they were only in 2D. Using the Alicona Infinite Focus optical microscope NPL is able to acquire 3D datasets from large areas, which can be used to study worn surfaces on a gear, drill bit or metal punch and hence produce a detailed measurement of the volume of material lost by wear of the component. Such quantified volume measurements can then be used to determine the best material or operating practice for a given material grade.

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