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 physicist 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.

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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 –and as a corrective for the often mistaken idea that persistence of vision is responsible for the fusion of sequential images into the illusion of full motion.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Where Muybridge represented the successive stages of motion in individual frames, Marey captured them on a single photographic plate. In the late 1880s Marey undertook a photographic study of the flight of birds, which had until then defeated his technical ingenuity.

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.   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 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