Chronophotography +

Wikipedia defines chronophotography as “a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion.” The term chronophotography was coined by French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey to describe photographs of movement from which measurements and study of motion could be derived. It is derived from the Greek word “chronos” (time), combined with photography. Marey’s pioneering work in the field of chronophotography can be seen to have lead directly to the development of cinematography.

Étienne-Jules-Marey_Portrait
Paul St. George’s paper, Using chronophotography to replace Persistence of Vision as a theory for explaining how animation and cinema produce the illusion of continuous motion, published in Volume 4 of the Journal for Animation Studies, reconsiders chronophotography as seen from the position of the post-cinematic era. However his paper does little to dispel the idea that persistence of vision is directly the result of retinal after images.  One reason disagreements over the nature of persistence of vision occur is one of nomenclature. The usage of the term visible persistence (or visual persistence) is one way of distinguishing it from simple retinal afterimages, however the popular use of the term Persistence of Vision is confusing as it is still often equated with Retinal Afterimages.  It appears that visible persistence is caused by a complex set of sensory processes which are still not fully understood and thus are field of study with great potential for continued study.  In their 2015 paper, Visible Persistence of Single-Transient Random Dot Patterns: Spatial Parameters Affect the Duration of Fading PerceptsResearchers Maximilian Bruchmann, Kathrin Thaler, and Dirk Vorberg wrote:

“Visible persistence, as studied by Efron and others, cannot be due to retinal afterimages only, as afterimages increase with duration. Moreover, visible persistence decreases with stimulus intensity (inverse-intensity effect, which, again, is the opposite of what holds for retinal afterimages. Cortical processes are thus likely to contribute to visible persistence, but how, where, and why these processes work is not completely understood, although models exist, which will be discussed later”

The eye is not a simple camera, but a complexly evolved extension of the brain. A small area of the retina called the fovea contains a far higher concentration of light sensing cells than the rest of the retina. Although we have the impression that we can process the entire visual field within our gaze, in reality we would be unable to fully process the information outside of foveal vision if we were unable to move our eyes. In some sense the act of seeing is an act of imagining since what we are seeing is held in the visual cortex of the brain as a detailed image constructed from rapid scanning of the eye. Wherever we look we see a highly detailed image even though at any instant that detail is only being sensed by the eye in area about 0.1% of the retina’s visual field. Motion is essential.

.

Gréco Casadesus composed the music for Sept Mouvements de Vie a half hour film he conceived as an homage to the importance and formal beauty of Marey’s work.  An excerpt, Marey, precuseur du Motion Capture is show above.

From the French language Wikipeida entry on Gréco Casadesus:
“In 2007, inspired by the work of Étienne-Jules Marey , Gréco Casadesus began writing three symphonic works entitled “Marey-Sept Mouvements de Vie”, created with the Cannes Regional Orchestra Provence-Alpes-Côte d ‘Azur under the direction of Philippe Bender at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival The following year, from a selection of chronophotographies and films put together by director Sylvie-Jeanne Gander, he composed the missing movements and creates a “Concert of images” during the Rencontres cinématographiques of Dijon.”

.

As with Marcel Duchamp’s seminal painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2, Norman McLaren’s Pas de Deux was inspired by the chronophotography of Étienne-Jules Marey. McLaren’s studied use of the optical printer for creating dynamic temporal and spatial offsets can be seen to share similarities with the compositional devices later used by John Whitney Sr. and Larry Cuba in films such as Arabesque and Calculated Movements. Similar approaches to structuring and revealing image flow may also be seen in many contemporary real-time digital works.

.

Butch Rovan has this to say about his interactive installation, Let us imagine a straight line:
Let us imagine a straight line is an interactive work about movement, the first installment in my ongoing project for dancer, video, music, and live electronics called Studies in Movement. I take these titles from two French thinkers of the late 19th century: physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey and philosopher Henri Bergson. Marey conceived the apparatus for the modern scientific study of movement. He invented instruments to measure human and animal locomotion—a beating heart, a bird in flight—and developed technologies that eventually led to the modern cinema. Bergson responded to these advances with a philosophy that rethought the relation between space and time, matter and memory, physical and psychical movement.”

.


Yet another chronophotography based installation based on a dancers path in space. Made by Humans (2012), installed in the Hyundai Vision Hall of the Hyundai Motors Corporation, is a collaborative work by the Universal Everything design group and The Creators Project.

.

9nude8.jpg.CROP.article920-large

Shinichi Maruyama has produced a contemporary extension of Marey’s technique using the compositing of up to 10,000 images of a dancer shot with a camera capable of capturing 2,000 images a second. In contrast Marey began his chronophotographic studies shooting 12 images a second

.

Etienne-Jules-Marey-Flight-of-gull-1886i

Whereas Muybridge represented the successive stages of motion in individual frames, Marey represented them as a single photograph showing overlapping phases of motion. In the late 1880s Marey undertook a photographic study of the flight of birds, which had until then defeated his technical ingenuity.

.

marey_flight_gull
Marey was so pleased with the resultant images from his flight studies that he created wax models based on them, which were subsequently cast in plaster and bronze.

.

MareyMiroscope

In 1887 Marey created a large zoetrope that when spun would animate a series of 10 plaster sculptures based on his chronophotographs of birds in flight.

.

KatieGrinnan_Mirage
Katie Grinnan‘s sculpture, Mirage (exhibited at the Hammer, February 26, 2013 – June 16, 2013), is formed from casting Grinnan’s own body moving through the different positions of a portion of her yoga routine. The resulting form is both an approximation of motion and a solid thing, a singular figure and many. Mirage focuses on the concept of peripersonal space, the space that your body encompasses at its most extended point in every direction, which describes the body’s potential boundary. Although one might consider the artist, Étienne-Jules Marey as a reference point for Mirage, the Hindu sculptures from South India, where different gods are portrayed with multiple limbs are of equal importance. Both references reflect Grinnan’s interest in the expansion and compression of time and “everyday superposition.”

.

peterJansen_01
Peter Jansen (1956-2011) pioneered digital sculpting of sequential human movement in space and time. He worked with 3D CG software to create overlapping frames of movement and then had the result made into physical form via the thee dimensional printing systems of rapid prototyping technology.

.

invisibleshapes_video

Another approach to chronophotography has been taken by Joachim Sauter and Dirk Lüsebrink of Art+Com in their extended series of works, The Invisible Shapes of Things Past.  These works are parametric translations of movies into space. Single frames from a film sequence are lined up in space, according to the camera movement with which they were shot.  The accretion of frames forms a three dimensional volume that can then be manipulated in various ways.  The construction of the volume is a bit like reversing the strata-cut process developed by CalArts Experimental Animation graduate David Daniels (who studied at CalArts before William Moritz joined the faculty thus David thus developed his technique unaware of the history of Oskar Fischinger‘s wax slice experiments)   With the strata-cut animation technique, a layered volume is constructed from colored clay in such a way that when thinly sliced and photographed slice-by-slice, a representational moving image is created from the compiled “frames” of each slice.  Time extrusion is the common ground in these otherwise very different works by Art+Com and David Daniels

Flora Lysen describes the early history of slice animation in her paper, Grey Matter & Colored Wax. Joachim Sauter makes reference to clay (or perhaps Oskar Fischinger’s combined clay and wax slicing experiments) in the following:

“Influenced by the emergence of film and multi-exposure photographs, cubists and futurists disintegrated the linear representation of space and time in their pictures and sculptures. They aimed at finding ways to represent movement and introduced the display of multiple times and perspectives of one object.
At the same time, artists like Fischinger, Rutmann and Eggeling developed the “absolute film”. Its mission was to free itself from the display of everything representational, to produce abstraction with cinematic means according to abstract painting. Next to many other techniques, thin slices were cut off from a ball of modelling clay, and the continuously changing cutting plane was then filmed with a film camera, image after image. The result was a decomposition of this object into single frames that when put together, presented a tracking shot through the object.

In the middle of the 90s, the project “the invisible shapes of things past” was developed to reverse this system and to generate objects and sculptures from pre-existing single frames. The work was motivated by the goal to manifest a counter position to the mania of the then widespread hyper-realism in computer graphics. Another goal was to introduce a method of finding an architectural or sculptural form based not on manual modelling but on a generative processes.
”