Pictures of passing time

A book by Stephen Wilkes

By definition, a photo something static - like every picture which just freeze for a moment, but can not play development over time. Actually. Because keep trying artists in different ways to create images of passing time. Doc Baumann has the new book "Day to Night" by Stephen Wilkes looked at where the changing times of day with Photoshop montages was visualized.

Bilder der vergehenden Zeit

A couple embracing in the middle of the river of pedestrians on London's Trafalgar Square, 2013 © 2019 Stephen Wilkes

It is confusing: On one side of the large-format photographs dawn just breaking on - in the center, we see the same scene in the bright midday light - and on the opposite side of the night is already raised. But that is not presented to us in several adjacent staggered Photos, additive and strip-wise, but in a single image.

can photograph you something is not (or should we say. not The camera and cell phone manufacturers can be always with something new, so it would not surprise one if at some point would be also those "Photos" thanks to built-in camera-KI) ,

You and me can not fazed this kind of course. For almost everything you see on pictures and can thus not take pictures easily, we know the magic word: Photoshop! And in fact, that explains how the images have come in this book into being.

Pictures of passing time are so far something unusual as she usually - photos anyway - show something spatial, timeless, a frozen moment. There objects are next to each other to detect. Unlike in the film, which also shows us such objects, but also - apparently - extended by the dimension of time: to juxtaposition the succession comes.

In the pictures of Stephen Wilkes, we now have both. We see a scene with all the objects and people that populate it; In addition to her together - at least that the static objects - remains intact, as it should be in an image. but also prevail in the same image in different places, different times of day. The usual DC-timeliness of the image portrayed is canceled.

Bilder der vergehenden Zeit

Wilkes fought in Paris against the miserable weather with a 18-hour shooting of high traffic Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower, from a 13 meter high lift truck, 2014. © 2019 Stephen Wilkes

Pictures of passing time: Day to Night

Wilkes had to wait for Photoshop offering layers and layer masks and could manage pixels amounts sufficient for very large prints.

Then he could with his camera with 4 x 5-inch digital back and very stable tripod suitable locations for his recordings Find (or these sometimes first set up) and take in a day, sometimes up to 36 hours, many, many photos which he then mounted on the computer later.

Although the preface of the book by Lyle Rexer to these technical aspects, tells little - as Photoshop users, we can well imagine how much work goes into this assembly. Let us take the clouds: In the course of a day they change constantly. but a panoramic assembly may represent only a few of them. However, the horizontal extent of a cloud is usually far greater than the gradually takes place over this route brightness changes.

And even when an identical image section - if need be levels can in Photoshop yes align precisely - there is much work to insert with layer masks persons or mobile objects at the appropriate place.

A simpler application: Day and night

2014 you could read from page 54 in DOCMA 57 a tutorial from me, which concerned a similar problem. However, there should not be the continuous passage of time shown but only two states combined day and night. At that time I wanted to not broach the passing of time, but only solve a technical installation problem.

If you have a night shot of a scene and want to enlighten some of it bright, that will not do on the road, simply lighten the section in question vigorously. Which offers neither a solution to this that there are bright and dark areas of object surfaces and shadows because of daylighting (both come at night because of the uniform non-lighting is not available). In addition, the artificial lighting at night is completely absent on the day; that affects light sources as well as illuminated objects.

The solution is a montage of day and night scene. The principle is the same as in Wilkes - but with an "either / or" instead of a "both / and".

Bilder der vergehenden Zeit

A simpler and non-continuous mixing of a night and a day scene shows this assembly from a tutorial in DOCMA 57 | Photos and Assembly: Doc Baumann

Drop Shadow: Inconsistent photos of passing time

However montages with an apparent temporal dimension are facing a hard to solve problem: When to be combined photographing under diffuse light rather than all day long, they inevitably contain drop shadows. And its direction will change once in the course of a day by about 180 degrees.

In DOCMA 79 I had imagined in my Bildkritik a work of former documenta 14th Also a large-scale installation, which had compiled Panos Kokkinias of tourists in a barren landscape on Nisyros. The initial photos were apparently taken in the course of several hours, so it was inevitable that the shadow of the people assembled indicated in different directions. (The course of the landscape as well, but here can be even on a single photo fall back on.)

Most documenta visitors will hardly be noticed this break. But if you are often busy with Bildkritik the example of failed installations, one such contradictions fall on course.

Even with the assembly Wilkes this non-uniformity of the drop shadow is unfortunately seen again and again. Mostly he creates while it was to stagger the shadow directions continuously and adapt. For a number of works, however, drop shadows fall juxtaposed seen people in different directions, cross each other even in the worst case, or some people have completely without its drawbacks.

Given the high quality of the photo and assembly assembled in this book works such criticism might seem a bit petty, but the demand for perfection is this lack of uniformity in the way.

Bilder der vergehenden Zeit

The popular South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the 70-foot Desert View Watchtower of view. Arizona, 2015. "I slept on top of a watchtower during the 36-hour shoot. There was of course no artificial lighting, so I had to wait for the moon, so he lit the canyon. For the exposure was only an hour to me. © 2019 Stephen Wilkes

Side by side and one after the other

Sometimes it helps if you as an artist - or someone who writes something about the pictures - a little familiar with art history. Then a painting by Pieter Brueghel in which several periods are side by side to see (or could be), do not celebrate as a great discovery because there was visually translated into a juxtaposition a succession you have for example.

there was such images earlier centuries, many old books and murals testify. the timing was often there has been translated into a spatial, such as stations along a path. It was not until the later "contest of arts" led to considerations and discussions, what is appropriate to a particular art form or not. can isolate a single moment of an action - unlike the seal - crucial the "Laocoon" -Aufsatz of Lessing, in which he stated that painting and sculpture had. In the optimal case which culminated in the pre Walking and following gives an idea at least.

A few decades later, the photography was invented, and - actually unwanted - blurring proved due to long exposure times that even a really static medium is quite capable of reproducing time characteristics.

But we do not have to keep track of the whole course of art and art history here. With or without precedent: The photos and montages by Stephen Wilkes worthwhile to deal with them.

Pictures of passing time - the book

In the large-format illustrated book in landscape mode, as always excellent at Taschen regard to printing and paper quality, many of these day-night assembly of Wilkes are summarized. Many of them are complemented on the next page by the enlarged reproduction of a detail that reveals more details. Almost all photos are double-sided play, sometimes even double fold-out pages.

Wilkes deserves that one is concerned as a reader / in extensively with its assembly and allows the look long and hard travel through the scenes. However, you should leave this time and not go through the whole band in one go. Otherwise, a certain fatigue effect could be set but in view of the ever same theme.

Stephen Wilkes: Day to Night. Edited by Reuel Golden, bags Verlag 2019. 260 pages, bound, large size 32 x42 cm, introductory text in three languages ​​English, German, French. 100 euros




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Hans Baumann

Doc Baumann is primarily concerned with installations (and their critics) and with the unmasking of image forgeries, also with digital graphic and pictorial techniques. In the media again and again as "Photoshop Pope" dubbed dedicated since 1984 to the digital imaging and writes since 1988 about it.

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