This is the second installment of my blog’s feature Poem for Your Eyes — images that make a certain sense together. The first version is here. You’ll find all image credits at the bottom of this page. Hope your eyes enjoy wiggling through the warps.
This is the third in a series about photography techniques that provide artistic distortions.
Dali re-constructed, a slitscan photoby Duncan Creamer via his Flickr page
I fell in love with this photograph and asked the artist where he took it, thinking a Chinese New Years parade. Good thing I asked. Duncan Creamer’s explanation makes a great primer for slitscan effects.
It was actually shot with my iphone 3Gs on my back deck. The vertical bars are the light shifting as it filtered through the trees and the horizontal lines are the stucco on the house. I put the small Dali sculpture on a rotating base to get this shot.
Here’s another way to understand slitscan. To read what’s going on in this image start at the right. As our car pulls up at a stop light there’s a red car ahead of us and in the left lane. The wide red rear end counts out the duration of the red light, the slitscan continuing leftward at a steady pace. When traffic begins to move again we see the left taillight then some empty road where the car had been.
Photographer’s notes: From a 3 day experimental and testing session in August 2010 with the Camera Donkey III, an experimental camera device. It’s a slit scan, the effect is out of cam. And also, Wouldn’t actually know how to reproduce this picture, one of those nice random outcomes with slit scans.
Photographer’s notes: Taken with an Ilford Envoy box camera modified, using black paper, to take narrow slit images. One afternoon in August I took the Number 1 Vaporetto (water bus) in Venice from the Bacino San Marco, along the length of the Grand Canal to the Piazzale Roma. The journey of 3.5km takes about an hour. Every few moments I took a photo and advanced the film by 1/8th of a turn, moving to 1/10th of a turn towards the end as the take up spool grew in diameter as the film built up. There were 133 exposures in total. This image shows the entire width of the film.
133 slices of the Grand Canal by pho-Tony, detail view the image at its original 8749 x 709 pixels here
This is the second in a series about photography techniques that can provide artistic distortions.
Slitscan photography and videography. Artists are already at work in it. Here is Slitscan Carnival by Carl Rosendahl with music by Ergo Phizmiz
Rosendahl’s slitscreening doesn’t happen in-camera. He took the video at a carnival, then wrote post-processing software to create the slitscan effect. What started with cameras and film has emerged as parallel digital technologies. Post-processing, Rosendahl’s and other software, and also now two iPhone apps that take the doing back inside the camera. (Topic of the next blogpost.)
Relativity, slitscan photograph by Ansen Seale via his website
Ansen Seale takes the art of slitscans seriously. This is what you long to see — someone who understands the technology but cares about the image. I love in Relativity (above) how the movements of one bather mass together at the lower right while everyone else is a cipher. Look how skillful is his Red Flag (below) taken in China. He’s got the flags, minimized the personalities.
Red Flag, slitscan photograph by Ansen Seale via his website
Distortions have been part of modern art for over a century. Manual artists can create a three-elbowed arm on a figure. Maybe it ends up being a good painting, maybe not. Likewise photographic and digital technologies offer their devotees manipulations. Sometimes the images are splendid art, sometimes they’re technically apt but aesthetically the equivalent of paintings by talented gorillas.
Panning Peripheral Portrait of Linda by Andrew Davidhazy via his website
Look at this photograph and ask yourself, Could Picasso visualize such distortions in his head?Andrew Davidhazy made this experimental photograph 20 years after the master painter died. For me at least there’s deep satisfaction in the artistic warping of human form. It tells us truths we can only feel, that realism conceals by our staid reliance on the ordinary
Years ago I discovered Andre Kertesz’s book of photographs Distortions at the library. Took it out so many times I finally begged my own copy for Christmas. What Kertesz created with his nude models and the funhouse mirror is timeless, wondrous and beautiful. Or you may yelp Not for me. But for those of us with the affinity there’s endless fascination in the work and in the artistic techniques that create distortion.
Distortion by Andre Kertesz via quatemases on Tumblr
A good place to go for inspiration is the website of Rochester Institute of Technology professor Andrew Davidhazy, author of the gorgeous image at the top. The site’s a bit overwhelming — I’ve suggested some pages at the bottom here. Here are some of his images which may inspire you to your own camera experiments.
Peripheral portrait with improvised digital camera, Sarah by Andrew Davidhazy via his website here
I find I’m most fascinated by Davidhazy’s peripheral photography techniques but you may find that something hooks you in his many other studies, such as his Conical Panoramic Photographs (his Eiffel Tower is below), his Vortices in Water here, or his Splashes here.
He appears to relish communications so I will query him on his improvised camera peripheral portraits. You may have technical questions he can answer too.
Coda: I couldn’t stop myself. I’ve just ordered a rolled plastic funhouse mirror. Always wanted one. I think there’s an unrolled place for it in my house. Will others agree?
• In 1933 Kertész was commissioned for the series, Distortion, about 200 photographs of Najinskaya Verackhatz and Nadia Kasine, two models portrayed nude and in various poses, with their reflections caught in a combination of distortion mirrors, similar to a carnival’s house of mirrors. In some photographs, only certain limbs or features were visible in the reflection. Some images also appeared in the 2 March issue of the “girly magazine” Le Sourire and in the 15 September 1933 issue of Arts et métiers graphiques. Later that year, Kertész published the book Distortions, a collection of the work.via Wikipedia here
• The photographs are characterized precisely by the pure formal investigation into the shapes of the female nude reflected in the wavy surface of the carnival mirror. Kertesz began the Distortions as an assignment for the humor magazine Le Sourire. Before 1933 Kertesz had already experimented seriously with distortions which were created by various surfaces, such as water, mirrors and glass spheres. For instance, around 1930 he had made several distorted, humoristic portraits of his friend and caricaturist Carlo Rim in the mirrors at Luna Park. Kertesz accepted the assignment from Le Sourire, and had two mirrors from Luna Park placed in the studio which was made available to him. Very quickly he became so fascinated with the disorienting results that he decided to make a larger series than was necessary for the commission. via HubPages here
see also my blog post of July 26, 2012: In New York: Mirror Mirror