Data + Design Project

Timeline Photography: Space and Time in One Image

Tuesday 10.16.2012 , Posted by
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These photographs may look like simple photoshop experiments, but they are actually images taken straight from a camera… a very special camera. The work of photographer Jay Mark Johnson, each image was created with an $85,000 rotating slit camera; the type normally used for capturing vast landscapes. The camera works by capturing light only through a small slit in its rotating head, effectively exposing the image slowly from one side to the other. When you capture still landscapes this is registered as a normally appearing image, but in the case of Johnson’s images which feature moving subjects, you get a highly unique result which captures both space and time.

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Because he has rigged the camera to move at nearly the same speed as his moving subjects, they are recorded as still and recognizable images in a moving background of streaked color. In these images we are not simply seeing left to right, but in fact left is the past and right is the future. A confusing concept, yes, but one which gives us an extremely different look at imagery through time.

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Johnson began experimenting with this form of imagery in 2005 and has since built up a large body of images from around the world; traveling to places like Rome, Belgrade and Venice California. If you’re curious about some of the deeper meanings behind his artworks, see the fascinating video at the bottom of this post featuring a discussion of spacetime as a threshold for both artistic and scientific exploration. You can see more of these images and where they are being shown at jaymarkjohnson.com.

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Jay Mark Johnson presents a discussion of spacetime as a threshold for both artistic and scientific exploration.

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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