Stanley Cursiter


I came across this little known Vorticist (well he tried it for a few paintings) in the Aberdeen Art Museum.

The Sensation of Crossing the Street (1913)

Text from the exhibition:

“This hectic scene of people and trams rushing through one of the main thoroughfares of Edinburgh, the junction of Shandwick Place, Lothian Road and Queensferry Street, may seem like an impossible dream to current residents of this city, but for Stanley Cursiter in 1913 this location offered a golden opportunity to put the newest movement in art – Vorticism – to the test. The Vorticists tried to capture a sense of movement and to show modern life in a dynamic way, using bold lines and vibrant colours. Cursiter has broken up the composition into blocks of colour, all of which are patterned in one direction, so as to suggest speed and movement.

Cursiter produced just a few Vorticist paintings, quickly abandoning the style and moving to a more realistic idiom, which he developed in numerous portraits and in landscape paintings of his home, the Orkney Islands. However today it is his very rare Vorticist works that are most highly prized.”


Chauvet Cave: the world’s oldest long exposure art


“Cave of Forgotten Dreams”, Werner Herzog’s documentary about the recently discovered Chauvet Cave in France, presents the world’s earliest cave paintings, some 30000 years old.

Amongst the dozens of figurative animals are some where the artist has used multiple exposure image techniques to bring the creatures alive.

Here a multi-legged Bison.

And a Rhino below with series of frames as if part of an animation. Herzog sees in them a proto-cinema.

Interesting to see that in some of the earliest images in the world humans are attempting to move beyond the confines of a fixed representation.

Susan Collins


I was lucky enough to attend a drop in at the V&A Museum where one of the leading UK digital artists, Susan Collins, gave a talk about her work. She works in both gallery, public and online spaces, and for the last few years she has been working on a series of extremely long digital exposures, which are built up pixel by pixel over the course of a day. She calls them Time Landscapes.

A pixel is scanned from a 320*240 webcam image and sent to write over a live image in a gallery or online inexorably updating. The position of the next scan is advanced left to right, top to bottom – a second passes – and the next pixel is captured. It takes 76800 of these seconds (or 20.33 hours) to send an entire picture. Images are regularly saved into an archive. And so it goes. Collins has left cameras in situ for over a year and described the difficulty of searching through hundreds of thousands of screen dumps for something unexpected.

The three images below are from May, August and December 2005 from a piece called Glenlandia. The view is of a Scottish loch which although looking pretty natural is actually a man-made lake servicing a hydro-electric dam. The black bands on each image represent night-time. The differing thickness vividly showing the different length of the day at different times of the year. The way in which the winter day briefly looms through the darkness is concisely demonstrated. When she first saw the middle image she didn’t understand what the white smear across the black was, but soon realised it was a sketchy long exposure of the moon scrawling across the night sky.

Glenlandia (May 2005)

Glenlandia (August 2005)

Glenlandia (December 2005)

The ability to reveal new ways of seeing the familiar is what fascinates Collins about using new technology, although she is keen to avoid common tech strategies. The idea initially came about as an attempt to transfer an image using the tiny amount of bandwidth left over from a full screen live video conference which Transported Skies between Cornwall and Sheffield. Pragmatically one pixel per second was chosen – and in that simple decision a new art work was born which would over the years create millions of images of landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes and even ghostscapes.

The picturesque blandness of the chosen landscape lends itself to the ‘dumb looking’ web camera and the painstaking accretion of image. Yet despite all this limitation the set up still caters for an unexpected combination of pixels – and an occasional alchemy of information.

You can read all about this piece and others on Susan Collins website.

All images copyright Susan Collins 2005-7 not to be used or reproduced in any form without prior permission from the artist.

Iavor Lubomirov


I discovered another long exposure artist on the net, this time working with layers of paper to make an amazing piece called ‘In Hind Sight’.

Iavor describes how he started with a video of two dancers and then…

“… traced the performers’ outlines from each frame of the film onto a sheet of 300gsm Fabriano Watercolour paper and then cut this out using a scalpel. I assembled (glued) the individual pieces inside a simple frame I constructed for the purpose. There are 850 layers in the sculpture, which at 24fps is just over half a minute of movement. It took me just over two years of working on and off on this to complete the process. I used about 200 blades (standard 10a) and worked with 2 handles in rotation.”

Here is another angle, the piece is less than 20*20*20cm.

Iavor has also displayed an intagliio print of the cutting map used for this mammoth operation, thus adding a further layer of time and compression.

O#1 (Time and Time again) Detail
Intaglio Print (Edition of 20)

His work is currently on display at the Angus-Hughes gallery London E5 until May 2011 and you can find more about that show and his other projects on his website.

Double Vision


A lot of these type images have appeared on the net recently,

This one is Uma Thurman with doubled features designed as an optical illusion. I suppose because of the giddiness it induces it shows how the layout of the human face is hard wired into the brain and mixing up this layout causes confusion.

Anyway it reminded me of a Welsh artist called Evan Walters who was trained at Swansea art school. He started out as a traditional figurative artist with some success but by the 30s was experimenting with his own very personal response to Modernism and Cubism’s idea of a fractured perspective in particular.

(Stout Man With Jug)

Walters developed an unconventional and unique approach which he called his ‘double vision’ paintings where he closed one eye at a time and literally combined the two images that he could see with either eye into a single painting or drawing. He called this his totality of vision and suggested other artists should do likewise. They didn’t. His popularity declined.

Although not strictly long exposures, Walters work offers an unusual approach to capturing objects in space. Essentially he was attempting to create 3D images.

Raphael Perret


Raphael Perret is another artist who has produced rapid prototypes of bodies in motion. In his case both small and life size renderings of Mestre Corisc, a Capoeiro artist. Rapheal states that his specific interest is in the personal usage of space and the ability to cultivate and develop that usage from the habitual to the skillfully considered.

His goal was to produce the sculpture in lifesize as a positive and negative. The latter meaning a solid block with the movement carved into the material. So the visitor can crawl into the space and explore the space of the body from inside.

Motion tracking was used to record the motion and then this was applied to a 3d body model.

Raphael discusses three technical approaches to the task in an interesting essay on his website:

“theoretically, the innumerable stages of the movement could be added up by means of a so-called Boolean Join Operation. If, however, the volumes are not saved after each step, the computer is bound to crash after a short time. The second approach would be a virtual version of Schlemmers soft, plastic material, also called volumetric pixels, or voxels. The voxel is a three-dimensional equivalent to a pixel and is used to transform 3-D surfaces into an evenly screened bitmap. This means that out of voxels, the exterior volume of an avatar could be calculated, which would again accumulate an enormous amount of data. Much more elegant is the third approach. On each vertex of the avatar a particle is placed, which produces a point cloud while the movement is progressing. By employing this point cloud, a net of polygons can be construed.”

The third elegant approach was used, giving the project its name – BodyCloud. I think the technique is to cull interior points and then wrap a surface around the remainder. The resulting sculpture has a smoothness (oddly like squeezed toothpaste) which brings out the rhythmic dance and grace of the action. Raphael rendered several mini sculptures and showed them at Kinetica this year. You can read about the project on his website.

New 3D Printers


Two new 3d printers have caught my eye.

Mcor Matrix

First the Mcor Matrix from Mcor Technologies which uniquely uses plain old A4 paper as the medium. A special knife cuts each sheet and then the layers are glued together with a PVC variant. The paper makes the models 50 times cheaper than the nearest polymer rival. The resolution is the thickness of the paper – so about 0.1 mm which again is finer than some of the Zcorp machines. The models produced have a wood carved look, and are monotone – or striped as shown above using colored paper, but can be easily painted. The company is from Ireland and very friendly. The machine is out of my price range (about 24000 Euros) but I will be trying out one of the recommended print bureaus:

  • The Royal College of Art has the Matrix and they provide a bureau service through Rapidform
  • 3D Worknet also have the Matrix and they provide a bureau service


Secondly there have been a rash of build it yourself rapid prototyping machines in the last few years but one called Personal Portable 3d printer (PP3DP) is a little different. This one from Japan has all of its mechanisms hidden away in metal casing, rather than the usual skeletal rod aesthetic. The photo shows how small and tidy the machine is. The cost is a little more than the build it yourself machines at about £2000. The quality of the models is comparable to the other DIY machines at about 0.35mm resolution – you can see the spool of ABS plastic hanging off the machine.

Life-Lines & Pink Worms


“Life-Line” is a short story by American author Robert A. Heinlein first published at the dawn of WW2. In the story Professor Pinero, builds a Chronovitameter machine that can predict how long a person will live.

He stepped up to one of the reporters. “Suppose we take you as an example. Your name is Rogers, is it not? Very well, Rogers, you are a space-time event having duration four ways. You are not quite six feet tall, you are about twenty inches wide and perhaps ten inches thick. In time, there stretches behind you more of this space-time event, reaching to perhaps nineteen-sixteen, of which we see a cross-section here at right angles to the time axis, and as thick as the present. At the far end is a baby, smelling of sour milk and drooling its breakfast on its bib. At the other end lies, perhaps, an old man someplace in the nineteen-eighties. Imagine this space-time event that we call Rogers as a long pink worm, continuous through the years, one end in his mother’s womb, and the other at the grave. It stretches past us here, and the cross section we see appears as a single discreet body. But that is an illusion. There is physical continuity to this pink worm, enduring through the years. As a matter of fact there is physical continuity in this concept to the entire race, for these pink worms branch off from other pink worms. In this fashion the human race is a vine whose branches intertwine and send out shoots. Only by taking a cross section of the vine would we fall into the error of believing that the shootlets were discreet individuals.”

He explains that the pink worms conduct electricity along their entire life-line and that by sending an electrical signal from the current cross section, which will echo back at the extremities, you can measure the moments of birth and death.

This contrasts slightly with Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorian idea of a human life as a long millipede with baby legs one end and old man legs the other. The difference is just a matter of resolution. If you make up the 4d body by taking snapshots 1 second apart then you would be able to distinguish the legs at different positions as they walk through space and you get the millipede effect. If you take all positions continuously then the legs merge into Heinlein’s worm.

The Adjustment Bureau

To complete the set, a third Sci-Fi author, I recently saw The Adjustment Bureau (based on a short story by Philip K. Dick), which also contains a life-lines theme.

In this story each human is followed around by a crew of adjusters (like guardian angels but they have to wear hats?). The adjusters have a book which contains the subjects life-line. only in this case the life-line isn’t completely prescribed, Matt Damon is allowed to mess around a little with it , and fall in love with Emily Blunt in a toilet. But then the adjusters come in because the animating life-line book warns them that Matt is going off and they use various powers to get him back on the straight and narrow. For example they trip a few people up. In the end none of it matters because Matt is allowed to rewrite his own fate anyway, so the previous 2 hours were pointless. However the life-line book is an interesting idea.


Since the availability of cheap and accurate Global Positioning Systems several artists have used their ability to trace a path as virtual pencils which can make drawings on a grand scale. These edited trails are subsets (or edits) of the artists entire life-line.

Jeremy Wood has made star drawings over 5000km long using GPS and Ryan Air and on a smaller scale displayed GPS renderings of lawn-mowing trails which I saw last year at the Tenderpixel Gallery in London and which had an unexpected ethereal quality.

A strange thought: if the lawn-mower accidentally mowed over a worm would it then spread its flesh over the forthcoming path?

Gjon Mili


I’ve had a busy last year with art group Genetic Moo – not a long exposure project but some of our documentation has been. (Have you tried documenting video installations?)

It’s Alive – Genetic Moo 2010 – Old Vic Tunnels

I’ll be rebooting this blog and looking at what happened or didn’t happen with my long exposure project, catching up on rapid prototyping, and other 3d inclined technologies and digging out relevent artists.

But I thought I would start by putting up a few more Gjon Mili images which I had lying around. As a major long exposure photographer of the 20th century. He was lucky enough to work with Edgerton and pioneered the use of flash and strobe photography. He produced images for LIFE magazine for over 40 years and typically was interested in revealing the inner ‘beauty’ of motion. He often photographed dancers, actors, sportmen or other skilled movers (including Picasso doing what is now called Light Painting). He even had a go at Duchamp’s Nude. So his work raises a question – is it only the few who move beautifully?

Ben Laposky


I visited the V&A exhibition Decode: Digital Design Sensations. It was a lot of fun of the waving your hands in the air variety. The V&A is running a series of Digital Art events and another show tucked way upstairs in an empty gallery displayed the work of several pioneers in Digital Art (or New Media, or Computer or Process Art as it was variously called back then). There were some fascinating prints by Harold Cohen, and early Paul Browns, and even one by James Faure Walker. But my favourite were the simple pleasures offered by Ben Laposky’s Oscillons. Described as one of the forefathers of computer generated art, he took long exposure photographs capturing the fluctuating electrical signal from an oscilloscope.

Here’s one, Oscillon 40 from 1952