Time and motion

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Our new event series, Rhythm is a Dancer explores the psychology and physiology of dance, and its impact on the body and our minds. Accompanying the series, fine art photographer Atton Conrad has created a series of portraits that track the algorithms of each dancer’s movements through light, capturing the essence of their dance form. Individual portraits will be revealed as the series progresses. Here he explains how he began capturing the motion of the human body.

It’s a rare admittance but I have to be honest, all my photographs are lacking. Missing a certain something, deficient of it entirely: motion, movement & time. They are not present. Now this lack, apparent in all photographs, is also their greatest strength, allowing the eye to linger on the wonderful complexity of a frozen moment that would pass too quickly to be perceived otherwise. Yet trying to convey a sense of movement in a still image has always required skillful manipulation of inferences such as posture and motion blur.

Light painting is entirely a creation of movement. A light source is drawn across the scene while the camera is open and so a single point creates a flowing line. A memorable example is in pictures of moving cars at night, where the head and tail lights trace out lines of white and red.

The process used in the creation of the dancers’ and performers’ portraits combined these two concepts to track the movement of the performers over time. Lights attached to the performers’ bodies trace out the motion of their movement in a pitch dark environment while a final high speed flash freezes their final position. The nuances of their action are present in the trail, visual representation of motion and movement over time in a still image. Quite literally graphic data.

Science has always been of interest to me. I always enjoyed the process of twisting my mind into unusual intellectual shapes to understand concepts in both science and art equally, along with the following awe at the beauty of both and the minds of those that formed the ideas.

Creativity is not only the preserve of an artist. Science is perhaps the ultimate creator. I use exactly those same conceptual processes in image creation, as do all artists. The same equation, just differing inputs.

To quote Einstein is a cliche, but relevant. “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious—the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

It was the work of scientist Alexei Gastev that was the catalyst for the shoot. During the 1905 Russian revolution he was a specialist in ‘time and motion’ studies. His aim was to increase the efficiency of Russian workers creating ‘cyclograms’ as they were known, to understand the movement of those workers.

Although never intended as art they retain an inherent utilitarian beauty all of there own and I hope I have done at least some justice to the original works.

Tickets for the first event, ‘Can You Kick It’ are available from today. Visit our website to book online and  watch a short film created for the event. Find out more about Atton Conrad’s work at attonconrad.com.

Picture Us

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Today is Picture a Museum Day. Across the world, museums are sharing pictures of what goes on behind the scenes, and people are taking their own pictures from museums and also sharing them.

We’re taking part by sharing a set of pictures showing the installation of materials from the Wellcome Library in our new Dirt exhibition which opens next week. You can see a selection of the photos in the gallery above, and the full set on Flickr.

Meanwhile, during the day, our Visitor Services Assistants will be taking pictures of a day in the life of Wellcome Collection, and we’ll post those at the end of the day.

If you’re visiting us today, we’d be delighted if you take pictures yourself (but please leave the flash off) showing us what you find interesting, and what the objects in Wellcome Collection mean to you. You can add them to the #MuseumPics Flickr pool. You can add your pictures to the Wellcome Collection Flickr pool today and any day of the year – we always love to see your pictures, especially of our events.

If you’re on Twitter, you can tweet the pics – use the hashtag #MuseumPics (and drop us a mention at @ExploreWellcome so we can retweet the best).

We look forward to seeing your pictures!

Drop into the pool

Glass bottle. Joseph Morningstar

Glass bottle. Joseph Morningstar

Taken any pictures at Wellcome Collection recently? Whether they are of exhibits, events, or even just a nice cake in the café, we’d like to see them in our new Flickr pool for Wellcome Collection.

Photos already in the pool that we particularly like include this vanitas by astropop, David Muir‘s Jelly Babies and this astute take on our word soup by Heather. This photo of spyderfyngers and her friends taking advantage of the free moustaches on offer to young explorers also made us laugh.

Medical London Flickr pool

Angiogram. flickr.com/dhedwards

Angiogram. Angiogram. flickr.com/dhedwards

Do you take pictures of hospitals? Are you a healthcare worker? Ever photographed your own operation? You might be interested in our Medical London Flickr group. The pool is an extension of our Medical London project, a book and website charting the history of disease and treatment in London, with a gazetteer and guided walks.

All you need to join is a Flickr account (it’s free, and if you already have a Yahoo! Account, you can use that). Add your pictures to the pool geotagging them if you can, to add to the map,  join in the discussion and help us build a composite picture of contemporary and historical medicine in London.