Symposium Video

Here’s the video I made for the Symposium and the text that accompanied the mini show we had afterwards.


This video briefly introduces the work of artist Tim Pickup on a Digital Arts MA at Camberwell College of Art.

The final outcome of this project has been to render life-size, full colour sculptures of the space passed through by a human being in motion; effectively a long exposure sculpture.

The bulk of my time on the course has been spent working out exactly how to use a mixture of java programs and 3D modelling packages to convert animated motion sequences into a format that can be physically rendered. The final sculptures are constructed from over 1000 meticulously cut out and glued pieces of corrugated cardboard, which are then covered in papier-mache and painted. Apart from being a fun hands on solution, the contrast between the high-tech ‘behind the scenes’ calculations and the low-tech finish adds a friendly element of intrigue to the pieces – just exactly how were they made?

Throughout the course I have carried out experiments in long exposure digital photography and video as a means of checking progress, and have also contextualised my work by examining historical artists and scientists. The key inspiration has been the chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey, and the way in which twentieth century avant-garde artists, and in particular the Italian Futurists, interpreted his images almost exactly 100 years ago.

I have chosen to model two actions which both address issues of balance. One piece models the artist falling off a plinth (or has he been pushed?), and in the other the artist vaults over the balcony of a stairwell. Both pieces could perhaps also be read as metaphors for my future life as an artist, which too is in the balance.

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At the symposium Jonathan Kearney raised an interesting question:
Is it possible to make the viewer experience a sense of time displacement?

I had one idea to explore this a while ago. It ties in with the method of the Cubists. You have a series of 3D frames of some action. Then each frame is rotated about the vertical axis by a few degrees from the previous frame in modeling software and then all these frames are boolean unioned. Then if the viewer moves around the sculpture at the appropriate rate (walking speed say) does the static sculpture animate in some way?

Ed Kelly suggested that strobe lighting would do the trick. I’m wondering whether the eye could do this on its own (to an extent it is also strobing or sampling reality). The interesting question is then what happens if the person moves around the sculpture in the wrong direction – presumably if this effect works at all the animation should reverse. Something like looking at the wheel of a car go in reverse.

Sometimes when I walk around a large sculpture I do feel as if it is slightly animating, or moving through space, but this is a fleeting effect. I’d definitely like to try this idea out in the future. I will need to choose a suitable action to maximize the effect – if each successive frame covers up too much of the previous then I think the effect would be diminished. Its probably one of those effects where you can’t tell if anything is happening until you really look at it with your eyes – not on a screen.

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