6.Chronophotography & Marey

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6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by glegrady » Mon Oct 25, 2010 4:06 pm

Please post your response to Steve Mamber's article here: "Marey, the analytic, and the digital"

So far we have read from the following:

George Dillon, professor of Language, Literature, semiotics, electronic text
http://depts.washington.edu/engl/people ... .php?id=15
http://faculty.washington.edu/dillon/ho ... illon.html

Roland Barthes, influential semiotician, Structuralist and post-Structuralist
http://www.amazon.com/gp/entity/Roland- ... sr=1-2-ent (just to get the list of books - I am not an amazon agent)

Gabriele Peters, prof of Computer Science, and visual computing
http://www.inf.fh-dortmund.de/personen/ ... en/peters/

Coming up:

Steve Mamber, prof of Film Theory & Media Culture, UCLA

Paul Virilio, influential french cultural theorist on Technology, Vision, Virtuality, Art
Last edited by glegrady on Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
George Legrady

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Re: Chronophotography & Marey

Post by arothstein » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:51 pm

This article by Stephen Mamber is an analysis of the relationship between artists and scientists as exemplified by French artist/scientist Etienne-Jules Marey. Marey graphed visual information through movement across time using chronophotography.

Mamber argues that Marey's work was not a prologue to cinema. Marey wasn't interested in depicting real life. Rather, he focused on representing things that were BEYOND human perception. In 1887, Marey published his La methode graphique , an introduction into his practices of graphically representing physical change in relation to movement, sound, schedules, nature, etc. It can be described as a compression of visual information: simultaneous frozen motion. This transformation from analogue to the grid manifests in his chronophotographs, which are essentially compositions of lines, bars, shapes, and patterns.

Marey was critical of the progression to photography; he looked at the camera was another TOOL capable of documenting movement when graphing changes but recognized the potential downfuls, such as issues with perspective. He didn't see photography as in accordance with strict science.

Marey's purpose always remained purely scientific. He was not interested in entertainment or the outcome of his short films/ series of chronophotographs. He was focused on the ANALYSIS of them.

What interests me is the relationship between the idea of the microphone discussed in lecture and the work that Marey was doing with motion. In the same way that the human voice can be digitized through sampling averages and replaying all samples together fluidly, Marey wanted to gather data at "discrete regular intervals" which would demonstrate the original motion as a whole. The transition into the world of digitial media is based so completely in Marey's works.

Mamber's conclusion was to find the importance of looking at Marey's work as a unique inspection of the overlapping of time and motion through an innovative systematic process of documention that was revolutionaly for his time instead of as a prologue to cinema that stopped short before accomplishing the later goals of 'movies'.

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Re: Chronophotography & Marey

Post by BritRollins » Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:47 pm

Pelican in Flight
images.jpg (6.42 KiB) Viewed 6788 times

At first what came to mind when we began to discuss Etienne-Jules Marey and read about him in the article written by Stephen Mamber was that I had recognized and remembered his work, particularly the image of the Pelican in Flight. Although from past experiences of looking at his work I had only viewed a piece such as this as merely an aesthetically beautiful work of art. I knew very little about the meaning behind his work other than he was doing stuff with cameras that many had not attempted. Through the Mamber article I learned that since Marey and many other artists were anticipating the technological change that was starting to happen, Marey wanted to bridge that technological change through an aesthetic. What does this mean? That he wanted to incorporate a more expansive understanding of the medium and place it almost above technology. Marey was an artist as well as a scientist.
What interested me most about the article was the part where Mamber says that Marey’s work was “taking apart and putting back together [which] is not the same as just simply recording or capturing”. Marey’s work went beyond the naked eye and Mamber continues to write that the ‘at-a-glance’ characteristic creates a relationship that is quickly evident where long columns of numbers could not have revealed their patterns so easily and clearly. It is easier for the audience which may not have an extensive background in technology to understand it through its aesthetics and art. We understand things easier and more clearly when they are visually presented to us.

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Re: Chronophotography & Marey

Post by klmurphy » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:12 pm

In this article by Stephen Mamber, the details of Marey's medium, the effects of this medium of science art, and the importance of his invention of this process and product are played out for us. Mamber conveys to us that Marey was an artist, working with a digital medium. A pioneer in the category of science-art. Marey thought digitally as apposed to analogue. "Marey didn't jump fromth graph to the photograph, an important step intervened which also shows a mind thinking digitally. Marey was a pioneer in developing devices for automatically registering movement- recording-strip-like machines which sometimes unspooled their results in a manner spookily like unwinding film" (Mamber 2006pg.84).
Concerned with the topic of movement, Marey mathematically broke down different moving processes and turned them into stagnant images. The progression of these still images show movement over a period of time, such as a portion of a birds flight, the gallop of a horses run, the movements of an athlete.... This breakdown of the movement of images is a huge part in the time line of science-art. Mamber articulates to us that cinematography is although a digital art, it is not on the time line of science art nor is it a result of Marey's work but something that happened a step behind or apart from Marey's work. Although it would seem to make sense having the progression of cinema from Marey's medium, especially since the Lumiere's were Marey's material providers for creating his medium, Mamber says this is not the case. Digital media encapsulates any form that had been through a computer, Mamber says."One can say that digital media have blurred the line between work and play, between science and art, between product and process"(Mamber 2006 pg.85).The relation of Marey to cinema is the interest in movement; capturing moving pictures. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information was crucial in the development of science art and looking into the capturing of such insightful intricacies which we have overlooked concerning movement. Movement was Marey's interest in the arts. The tools he invented and his product are a huge part of science art today and have paved the way for many new forms of mediums.

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by amirzaian » Sat Nov 13, 2010 4:34 pm

The article by Stephen Mamber dealt with Etienne-Jules Marey’s contribution to the study of movement. He bought forth a new way of perceiving movement in time. In the article there was debate on whether Marey’s chronophotograph was a precursor to the development of video or if it had more implication than previously perceived. The idea that Marey’s chronophotograph was just merely a precursor to the development to cinematic video is to overlook the intrinsic and technological values of this technology. According to Stephen Mamber, “to understand Marey’s genius, one must not see his work as pre-cinema, but as an alternative system.” Marey’s work, according to Mamber, should be seen as an alternative system than pre-cinema due to the fact that Marey’s interests did not just deal with capturing movement but to seek a deeper representation of understanding the basic elements of movement and do deconstruct what was actually occurring. Stephen claimed, “Marey does not seem at all interested in the life-like; rather, he finds ways conceptually to display traces of movement hidden or obscured by everyday perception.” He wanted to document the intricacies of movement, which were beyond the bounds of basic human perception and to deconstruct what the human eye could not perceive and reinterpret the information to where we could understand what was actually occurring. A key factor in why Marey’s contribution was so crucial was his concern “with how to represent change,” which was “already a larger idea than simply depicting movement…” Another reason why Marey’s work was so influential was the idea that, “chronophotography could be seen as in the mode of digital thinking in that, by its very nature, it breaks down a continuous, on-going activity into a set of measurable, discrete components.” Chronophotography had many parallels to that of digital technology in that both used analog data and convert it into digital. The idea being that the rhythmic and smooth act of motion was converted and broken down into basic elements and recomposed. Marey’s obsession with movement led to a new understanding of how we perceive change and motion. His methods, “can be detected anywhere in the digital world where visual databases have sprung up, especially as represented by spatial interface.”

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by gclassen » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:17 pm

In Stephen Mamber's article Marey, the analytic, and the digital, Mamber discusses Etienne-Jules Marey and his contribution to art and science. He describes Marey's obsession with movement. This movement can be seen in all of his work; the horse running, the bird flapping its wings, the woman walking down the stairs. These chronophotographs are beautiful sequences of pictures, but they are more than just aesthetically pleasing. They serve as a scientific way to analyze what is happening in the real world, and what our human eye can't see. We can stop and analyze the meticulous details of the anatomical position of a woman in motion. We watch her body move and change position as she walks down the stairs. We now compare what we think we see, to the reality of what is actually happening. Mamber explains that Marey's invention can't be classified as pre-cinema, but as a system that allows us to view an image(s) outside of our everyday perception. The introduction of the chronophotograph opens doors to a new realm and gives a viewer an alternative way to see and observe.

Mamber also compares digital media in 2004 to where film was in 1898...invented. Even now in 2010, the introduction of 3D films into the cinemas is just starting to take place. Soon we are going to be experiencing digital media and possibly currently unknown aspects of media/art in alternative forms as well. The differences between art and science are getting smaller and smaller by the year, and the technical possesses by which we can create art are continuing to grow and expand into different realms of everyday life.


Above is an example of Marey's process of thinking digitally. Mamber talks about this chart of the Paris/Lyon train schedules as a way Marey overlapped information and walked a thin line between science and art. Thinking digitally, a website is made up of the same type of thing. Layers of information stacked on top of each other with different actions leading to different sources of info. Mamber discusses how a computer can be used in the same way Marey's chronophotograph gun was used. It captures motion through a process of overlapping images.

All in all, I think Mamber's point was to show a different way of thinking. By challenging boundaries of science and art, Marey sparked an onset of thought that opens the doors to ways of perception.

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by tcecchine » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:21 pm

This article was interesting to me because I enjoy analyzing images dealing with motion. And this article was all about the ways in which motion and time play a role in art. This art explicitly is based both off of aesthetics but also off of scientific fact and procedures. In some of the images done by Marey, that Mamber talks about they are explicitly based on a time and motion. The science that plays into this is an essential part of how the image is created and analyzed and I think this was a point that he brought up and it plays a huge part in the images, and their beauty.
The way we perceive things, images, and everything else, and how we process the information is based on a very instilled way of thinking that we grow up with, that we are exposed to from the very beginning. there is one right way and a thousand wrong ways, but through the points brought up by Mamber, we can analyze images through every wrong way, and often times come up with a more interesting result. then if everyone just went along, and never tried anything new.
the implied message remains that motion in images is based on more then just aesthetic beauty. there are many other variables that play into the creation of such images, and how they are perceived by the viewers, depend on the amount of knowledge they obtain on the topic.

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by rzant » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:38 pm

Within the article "Marey, the analytic, and the digital", there are various interesting ideas which make the work of Etienne-Jules Marey more comprehensible and relevant to the development and evolution of digital art. The author primarily distinguishes Marey's work as separate and, in many ways, even more advanced than the popularized cinematographic work of the Lumiere brothers. While their moving pictures were based in realism and focused upon the world as it is, Marey's work sought to scientifically analyze and describe information outside of human perception. Throughout his life, Marey stayed true to this line of work rather than stopping short and opting for the "clear commercial value" (Mamber p. 87).

In adhering to constant scientific inquiry, Marey was able to produce a body of work that was truly ahead of his time. He seemed to skip entirely the newly developing cinema of the late 19th century and move onto topics that are more relevant to today's digital media. This is chiefly due to the fact that he was obsessed with mapping discrete data, be it the movement of bird's wings or the arrival and departure times of trains in Paris. In doing this, he was presupposing the way in which digital information is translated and recorded. As we learned previously in class, a piece of analog information is translated into a digital version by taking discrete measurements that mimic the original analog form. In taking these measurements, Marey was able to describe (unbeknownst to him) the way in which digital video, for example, would function. Like the contiguous stream of birds in flight that may be viewed simultaneously, digital video can be viewed in a similar way - "dragging and pausing to view successive frames" (Mamber p. 88). It's phenomenal that Marey's work is so relevant to today's digital media.

Another idea that I found amazing was this statement made by Mamber: "it is important to note that the digital in 2004 is about where film was in 1898: invented, as it were, but not yet in a dominant form" (p. 84). This points to the great potential and room for growth that the digital medium is capable of. Although it has been realized, the point at which the digital arts are now is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by annab » Tue Nov 16, 2010 5:55 am

Stephen Mamber introduces Etienne-Jules Marey in the 21st century perspective. That is to say that he argues about the Marey being a forerunner of technological--or data--art, relating recording of information to movement. He compares Marey's visual animations with the cinema dominated by the Lumiere brothers, using them exemplary to Marey's connection with today's perspective rather than that of his time. He notes the simplistic forms that Marey records serve more as an abstraction instead of a depiction of the literal object in motion, such that only the movement is recorded. Data graphing records information so that in our perspective, the movement is more easily conceptualized with the physical distractive details that the object may have inhibit. In this way, we have a better understanding of the motion of an object rather than an object that happens to be in motion.
Mamber seems to argue that the abstract nature of Marey's work is less superficial, in which the Lumiere brothers exhibit cinematic work and became more "popular" than Marey's due to the already established expectations of their time. In a way, they used a more appealing language--only visual stimulated realism--but not more efficient language to exhibit bodies of motion. For that, Mamber suggest that society during Marey's time were at a premature stage for cinema and Marey did not gain his proper credit because the audience could not see the range of possibilities for gathered data.
As we come to understand the 21st century, the boom of evolving technology has lead to the feasibility in fast and accurate types of information, more importantly, of different kinds of information. Collecting information is arguably, a form of communication. The representation of Marey's work communicates ideas outside of our experiences, or more importantly, prepares information so that it can relate to a greater range of audiences and broader range of subject fields. It is easier to understand how Marey's work could have contributed, in which there are perspectives outside of our born-bodies, and that tools can tell us more about the world in a way we we can't (ex. microscopes, infrared vision, etc.).
More importantly, Marey's work as an art form is argued as well. The artistic nature of Marey's work is the evidence of his obsession to movement, but also in the abstractions he chooses to make with the data he collects. Because he is communicating a message with a language that is not popular, but reveals different perspectives, it can be said that Marey is art because he was beyond his time.

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Re: 6.Chronophotography & Marey

Post by RebeccaW » Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:43 pm

This article by Stephen Mamber explains that the scientist Etienne-Jules Marey was not really pre cinema, but just a step in that direction. Mamber makes it clear in this article that the work marey was doing was not intended to become any sort of moving media. Mamber explains the scientist's movement from graph to chronograph in a slow and gradual fashion.
I find it interesting that Marey's work is a lot different then film and cinema. The idea of movies and other types of media were influenced by this research but Marey was not trying to create a moving picture. Marey was trying to look at how things move and film doesn't fulfill this quest at all, it just shows people what we already know in an attempt to duplicate reality. Marey didn't try to duplicate reality but he was trying to understand what we see every day. By breaking down the motion in that way Marey is able to create images where we feel motion without movement. The techniques that Marey used were very interesting and influenced a whole new way of gathering information, which i believe influenced the use of digital sampling.
Last edited by RebeccaW on Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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