Exercise 3.2: Traces

31st March 2021

Then, using slow shutter speeds, the multiple exposure function, or another technique inspired by the examples above, try to record the trace of movement within the frame. You can be as experimental as you like.

OCA EYV (2014)

Objective

To show creative movement within images of everyday objects and household scenes using the strip-scam method.

The Images

Self-portraits: “Hear My Silent Scream. My Lord, My God, My King!”

The Fan

Why?

The Posters

Contact Sheets

Technical

  • iPad
  • SUI*2: Slit-scan Camera App

Developed by Hayato Kuno, Sui*2 also known as SUISUI is a camera application that uses slit scanning technology.

Opposite is a screenshot taken on my iPad of the open app. Here we can see the view through the camera app before it is moved to make the slit-scan image.

Below are a few chosen images from a variety of themed series of shots that I had taken using the Sui*2 slit-scan app.

Slit-scan photography is a technique where the film moves past a narrow slit in the back of a modified camera. The image that the camera creates is made up of many narrow slices which lay side by side rather than the typical one shot exposure that we usually gain with a camera. The image is recording a timeline of events occurring in the same position over a slightly longer period. Guerin, J. (2015:94)

Other names that slip-scan is known by are line-scan, linear strip, strip scan, photo finish or streak photography. The technique of slit-scan was first used as a device to look at the finishing line of horse races when photo finishes were needed to determine the winners. Other early uses were for photography and film effects to show movement of subjects. The Star Trek Enterprise in the introduction scene to the show is seen going into warp speed, the warp effect is created by slit scan photography which elongated the back end of the ship.

Image descriptions

“Here my silent scream. My Lord, my God, My King.”

The self-portraits show myself screaming and to make the images stronger, I experimented by moving my head on a couple of the images. The ripple effect coupled with the head changing positions produced visually interesting outcomes.

To emphasise the feelings of isolation, something that I often feel, I erased some of the image in the SketchBook app on my iPad to give the feeling of detachment from ones surroundings.

The series title, ‘Hear my silent scream, my God, my Lord, my King’ represents how I feel that no one, even when I am desperately explaining about the abuse I suffered behind closed doors from my ex-fiancé, are actually understanding me. I feel as though they cannot hear me, I also wonder if my screams to God must be silent ones as well or perhaps they fell on deaf ears, because he has never helped me during the battles I have had to endure as a victim of mental illness or abuse.

I find the images very satisfying in that they show the movement of my mouth which emphasises the scream multiple times over. Another visually interesting aspect of these images relates to how they have developed into looking like charcoal drawings, this was emphasised further because of the erasing of some details which visually can represent dissolving into a nothingness. This feeling of being dissolved into a nothingness is also explored in Assignment 2, Jail House Punk.

The Fan

The fan provided an interesting form to photograph using the slit-scan method. With its circular lines, central solid circle and text broken into sections which also showed blurring, the movement patterns were strong and interesting to the eye.

The black background blinds provided a strong contrast within the composition and the silver of the fan was brought forward in the image.

Why?

‘Why?’, consists of a pile of torn up papers that I was discarding and an empty anxiety pill blister packet. This still life is staged on a large cutting mat chosen for its squared lines. Having completed the fan shots, I knew lines were extremely strong visually when used with the slit-scan technique.

The anxiety pill references the title, ‘Why am I anxious?’. The question ‘Why?’ is also made important because the dominant text within the image on the right is the word ‘think’ which adds an interesting question, ‘ Why should we think?’ I also wanted the mixture of textures to see how they would combine in movement, the polyethylene plastic of the cutting board, the matt of the torn papers and the plastic and silver foil from the blister packet.

The combination of the materials and the lines and shapes of the objects in motion worked well together. I purposefully chose the horizontal setting on the app so that it followed the lines and edges of the objects, but specifically it followed the direction that we read text naturally so I gained a smoother and more natural feeling of movement within the composition.

The Posters

I often work with text in both my artwork and photography so I chose a couple of my posters to photograph using the slit-scan method. Both of the posters are iconic images and I selected them because of this as I was interested to see if they would create an exciting new design.

I was very surprised at the end results where the text seems to dance around the page and the posters integrate with each other. The David Bowie poster is intriguing in it’s own way because of how his hand moves down and to the right of the picture plane and looks as though it has come out of the two-dimensional poster.

Both of these images are strong and inspiring and other designs in the wider environment, such as street signs, adverts and graffiti could produce very exciting images as well

Slit-scan technology: Creating the images

To create the slit-scan photograph the direction that the scan will run is chosen first. The choices, vertical, horizontal and diagonal, emphasise visual information differently depending on the direction that the camera is moving and whether or not the subject matter is still or moving within the frame.

To gain an interesting composition, the objects position within the frame, their form and other details, for example light and shadow within the image are considered in relation to how the slit-scan and camera will be moving.


Photographers Research

Ted Kinsman

On the website PetaPixel there is an in-depth look at Slit-scan imagery and technique which looks at the various techniques that create different outcomes. The visual outcomes include panoramic shots to amazing twists such as the bouquet of spring tulips below. Some of the image techniques are quite involved, the image of the tulips for example is made by placing the flowers on a turntable revolving them slowly once for three minutes,

This image was collected in camera by using a Better Light scan back camera which had the scanner parked in a fixed position. The camera has a feature that allows the taking very high-resolution panoramic images. The full image requires approximately five minutes to collect because the camera’s operation itself is slow.

Kinsman, T. (2017)
Fig. 1 A bouquet of spring tulips

Tiina Burton

Tiina Burton used slit-scan images to represent movement and time, ‘Through experimenting with the process of slit-scan I hope my photographs show more of the personality of the sitters through their movement in time, enhancing the conventional process of portrait photography.’ Burton (n.d.).

Her project ‘Family Portraits’ (n.d.) was inspired by the research of Dr Muzaffer Kaser who studies smart drugs and how they might enhance cognitive function. Burton’s theme is that of memories and she uses slit-scan images as a way to capture and recall memories of people that are close to her therefore using portraiture as a way to extend the moment of a photograph as well as showing movement.

Fig. 2 Family Portrait

Atis Puampai

… time is just a direction. And so that means time can move forward or back, side to side, and I think of it in these terms when I shoot my things. Everything I shoot is linear, moving in the direction of time… The end product itself is how the camera records time and only time. Traditional photography freezes time, but slit scan photos record a duration of time, and whatever is in motion in that time would be rendered a certain way. It captures movement and time in a mesmerizing way.

Puampai, A. (2014)

Looking at Puampai’s images on his website I am particurlalry taken with how the compositions can be so different within this technique. We have already seen above the twisting effect of a rotating object as it is slowly photographed using the slit-scan camera and the linear slices in Burton’s images but Puampai’s images have a mixture of linear stripes and distorted objects and people within them.

I have also noticed that Puampai also creates his own slit cameras so I am definitely researching into the construction of these cameras so that once I have made my pin-hole camera I will make a slit-camera, a prospect i am looking forward to immensely.

Below are a few of Puampai’s images to show how visually different images can be with slit-scan photography depending on how you modify cameras. Objects such as cars as well as people walking and riding bicycles show amazing distortions with strips as their backgrounds.

Fig. 3 – 6

Andrew Davidhazy

These are a few examples of the images contained in the mini-traveling exhibition of peripheral or roll-out portrait photographs made by Andrew Davidhazy with a camera devised from removing the linear imaging array found in a hand-scanner and installing it in a standard 35mm film camera body.

The subjects for these photographs stood on a turntable. While they were turning the linear array recorded the changing features of their heads. These were ultimately displayed as flat reproductions of the whole 360 degree circumference of their heads. 

Since human heads are not perfect cylinders and they can not stand perfectly still as they rotate, interesting distortions of the features of the face are introduced into the portraits. 

Davidhazy, A. (n.d.)
Fig. 7-8 Little Faces (n.d.)

I actually find that the portraits which are elongated are quite disturbing. The faces seem to fuse together in such a way that I recoil at them, a similar feeling that I got as a child when I watched the character Princess Leia sitting on the oversized, slimy and slug like Jabba the Hutt, I just squirm looking at them. Although the portraits using this technique might repulse me, I can see other subjects such as trees really becoming dynamic and strong with their branches interlocking and fusing together.


Illustrations

Fig. 1 Kinsman, T. (2017) A bouquet of spring tulips. [Photograph] At: https://petapixel.com/2017/10/18/role-slit-scan-image-science-art/ (Accessed 01.04.2021)

Fig. 2 Burton, T. (n.d.) Family Portrait [Photograph] At: https://shutterhub.org.uk/everything-i-ever-learnt-tiina-burton-extended-time-through-slit-scan-photography/ (Accessed 05.04.2021)

Fig. 3-6 Puampai, A. (2013-2014) Untitled, Waikiki, Waimano Home Road, Self Portrait. [Photographs] At: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/atis-puampai-slit-scan-photographs_n_5597727 (Accessed 07.04.2021)

Fig. 7-8 (n.d.) Little Faces. [Photographs] At: https://people.rit.edu/andpph/travel-exhibit.html (Accessed 06.04.2021)

Bibliography

Books

Guerin, J. (2015) ‘Slit-scan cameras’ In: Bendandi, L. (ed.) Experimental photography: A handbook of techniques. New York: Thames and Hudson. p.94

Websites

Kinsman, T. (2017) The Role of the Slit-Scan Image in Science and Art. At: https://petapixel.com/2017/10/18/role-slit-scan-image-science-art/ (Accessed 01.04.2021)

people.rit.edu (n.d.) little faces traveling exhibit – sample images. At: https://people.rit.edu/andpph/travel-exhibit.html (Accessed 06.04.2021)

Puampai, A. (2014) For This Photographer’s Eerie Slit Scan Portraits, It’s All About Time At: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/atis-puampai-slit-scan-photographs_n_5597727 (Accessed 07.04.2021)

Shutter Hub (n.d.) Everything I ever learnt: Tina Burton – Extended time through slit-scan photography. At: https://shutterhub.org.uk/everything-i-ever-learnt-tiina-burton-extended-time-through-slit-scan-photography/ (Accessed 05.04.2021)

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