A Camera That Emphasizes Time Over Space

Jay Mark Johnson uses a slit camera to take surreal photographs that emphasize time over space. What comes through the lens looks different depending on whether it is moving or stationary. Where some folks are surprised by odd digital camera "mistakes," Johnson selects the subjects and adjusts the scan rate to come up with works of art.

Yes, it’s a confusing concept. Johnson—an architect, painter, political activist, cinematic special-effects designer, and student of cognitive sciences—probably would not have come up with the idea, himself, were it not for a chance discovery. He had purchased a $85,000 rotating slit-scan camera for high-resolution panoramas. (The camera records vast landscapes sliver by sliver.) Finding the accidental effects of motion in front of the camera strangely poetic, he experimented with stopping the rotation and honing in on one tiny area. These images are the result.

This unique look is possible because the fixed-position slit camera registers only a vertical sliver of a scene. Whatever passes that slit by gets registered in a narrow line. Over a period of time, which Johnson can control, it registers line after line. The final result is a bunch of these lines all pushed together. (In this sense, you could say each photograph is actually a composite of hundreds of very skinny images.)

Read more about the process at Slate. Link -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Jay Mark Johnson)

Previously: A slit-scan video.


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