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Time is both concrete and malleable. Each day the Earth revolves around the sun and a new day passes — 24 hours, give or take, if we observe daylight-saving time. Albert Einstein famously stated that time is relative — basically, the idea that one’s perception of time speeds up or slows down relative to to one’s surroundings or points of reference. So in many ways time is both concrete and malleable, hours in the day can seem to take forever, and the years can pass us by in what feels like a blink of an eye.
This week we look at photographs and videos that explore the phenomenon of time. Some of these projects will compress time, while otherswill expand time to linger on the details. We will look at single images that slice up time, as well as an archive of images that reflect 20 years of a photographer’s life.
Co-editor of the New York Times’ Lens blog, James Estrin interviews photojournalist João Silva as this year’s Visa Pour l’Image festival exhibits the first 20 years of Silva’s career in photography from 1990 to 2010.
Silver is a member of the Bang-Bang club, a group of photographers who covered the transition from apartheid in South Africa between 1990 and 1994, and his long career covering conflict is recognized around the world. Silva’s career took a dramatic turn in southern Afghanistan when both of his legs were blown off below the knees by a land mine. Estrin’s interview, accompanied by a gallery of Silva’s work, looks back at the experiences that shaped the photographer’s life and career.
Photographs are known to “freeze” time, capturing a fraction of a second and etching it into a single frame. Singapore-based photographer Fong Qi Wei captures the progression of time in his series “Time is a Dimension.” The series consists of photo collages that are made from sequences of images shot over two to four hours during the changing of light, usually during sunrise or sunset. The resulting composited images reveal a progression of time and capture the rapidly changing nature of light in a single image through gradations of color, light and shape.
“A History of the Sky” is a year-long time-lapse project shot by artist Ken Murphy that captures and reveals the rhythms of the sky. Cameras mounted on the roof of the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco captured photographs of the sky every 10 seconds for a year. The final project is a grid of 365 movies cycling through, in which viewers can sit back and observe the changes in atmosphere, clouds, fog, wind and rain, sunrises and sunsets all compressed to reveal the rhythms of Mother Nature.
While on assignment in Rio de Janeiro, the second-largest city in Brazil and the future host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles-based photographer Joe Capra took time to travel through city landmarks capturing time-lapses. Capra’s latest video “Rio” reveals the beauty, light and diversity that is Rio.
“Rio” compressed time to take hours of footage into a matter of minutes. On the other hand, “15 Seconds” takes times and slows it down to linger on moments that are often fleeting. Produced and shot by John Burcham and Vongspoth, “15 Seconds” takes footage shot at 240 frames per second and brings it down to that standard cinematic 24 frames per second. Played to the song “Royals” by Lorde, the film is a fun and whimsical take that captures the magic and experiences of the county fair in glorious slow-motion.
“No Ordinary Passenger” is a New York Times Op-Doc shot by Cabell Hopkins that is a nostalgic take on time. The short film looks back on the life of 87-year-old Stan Dibben. “No Ordinary Passenger” is a testament to how a sense of adventure propelled Dibben to becoming the 1953 World Sidecar Champion as well as a nostalgic story of an early era of motor sports.
For an added bonus, animator Cyriak Harris created a music video for the song “Cirrus,” off of Bonobos’ fifth studio album, “The North Borders.” The video loops and bends time, sound and vintage stock imagery into a melodic and surreal video that is M.C. Escheresque
kaleidoscope of fun.
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