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Moving Pico-seconds

Short article by Arthur Bueno describing three works shown during DEAF_00 (2000).

By freezing a period of time in one image, reality can be strangely distorted. This phenomenon was explored extensively in photography: in a photo taken with a shutter that scans a scene from left to right while the film remains stationary (focal plane), a person can appear twice in the same picture, or deformed as he moves during the exposure of the film. Henri Lartigue's photograph of a speeding racecar is a well-known example of this type of distortion.

Transverser, a video-installation exhibited in the V2_Restaurant (Lantaren 2), is based on the same principle. The slowly rotating camera scans only a small strip of the space at a time, and gradually builds an image in which all that moves is deformed. The immediacy of the medium allows you to play with the effect as in a carnival mirror. Funny, not profound. Much more interesting is TX-Transform, also on display in the DEAF_00 exhibition. With TX-Transform a movie is built out of Transverser-like images. A short video-fragment is transformed by taking every next vertical line not from the original frame, but from a frame that lies a fraction further in time. In this way, every frame of the transformed movie scans the whole time-period from left to right. In fact, the X-axis of the image is interchanged with the time-axis of the movie. It adds up to something that is deceivingly similar to the real world, but behaves differently, and seems to become fluid. Installations like this are demonstrations of technique rather than artworks, but they seem to have a potential to be artistically exploited. TX-Transform could well have been used in "The Matrix", for instance.

An example of how the art of time freezing can be brought to the extreme was shown at the DEAF symposium by holography-pioneer Nils Abramson, inventor of a method called "Light in Flight recording". Abramson has been the first to expose holography not as a 3D representation of reality, a momentary snapshot of spatial information, but as the 4 dimensional medium it actually is. Similar to scanning panoramic cameras, a hologram catches an image over a time period, but instead of the seconds requiring the camera to pan the image, in a hologram the time difference consists only of the pico-seconds the light needs to reach all of the holographic plate. Looking into Abramson's holograms step by step from left to right, we can follow how a tiny strip of laser light progresses, how it floats over an object, or how a lens breaks it. He assembled these images in an animation that offers the incredible sensation of actually seeing light flow. Abramson can be credited with making the most extreme slowmotions imaginable. Somehow they are moving.

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