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News Processes of creating art revealed through time-lapse photography

26 September 2014 Daniel Curtis
Super Mario Chalk Time-Lapse

Chris Carlson draws 3D-style Mario out of chalk.
(Click the image above to watch the video)

An art form in itself, time-lapse photography has long been reserved for professionals.

The process of taking images at set intervals, then piecing them together into a video is a fantastic, different way to view the world. The majority of top photographers reserve such talents for the natural wonders of the world, or as documentation of the daily routine in a busy city.

We have continued to develop aesthetically pleasing time-lapse into a multi-purpose tool – providing both stunning visual photos and a way for clients to monitor their projects.

However, it is not just professionals who are now monitoring, or rather reviewing, their work with such techniques. Artists are now using the power of photography as a tool themselves. It can help us to understand how much effort goes into producing a piece of work. Their intricate workings come to life through a short video, capturing every last detail of their project as it takes shape. Both their methods, that are so easily overlooked, and their skills are showcased, allowing us to peak behind the curtain of the secretive “artist’s studio”.

Take hyperrealistic art, for example. These pieces of work create the illusion of reality, despite the viewer knowing they are, in fact, just pieces of art. No matter what the artist is drawing – a person, landscape or building – the time taken to produce such detailed images is significant. But thanks to time-lapse, we can now see this arduous process in a bite-sized chunk. And who would not want to see a sweet packet drawn with stunning precision?

But the new uses of the technique do not stop there. As ever, the Internet throws up some weird and wonderful videos from time-to-time – and there is a fair share of bizarre time-lapse videos. Statues and sculptures have been around since the dawn of civilisation, but who would have thought a model Statue of Liberty could be carved out of cheese? As ludicrous as it sounds, it’s more than impressive to see over 500kg of dairy product transformed into a work of art in 150 seconds – cut down from the 35 hours of work it actually took champion cheese carver Troy Landwehr to create the masterpiece.

And keeping it with the weird, have you ever wondered how long it would take to build a model mansion out of lollypop sticks? Probably not. But thanks to time-lapse photography, you now can!

For the more conventional art projects, like the sweet packet drawing, time-lapse is becoming ever more popular. This intricate, 3D chalk drawing of Mario is decoded through a lapsing video. Seeing stills of the production would have been one thing, but to see the level of planning the artist Chris Carlson takes is on another level. The video opens up every detail of the process, which involves pain-staking precision to produce the 3D illusion through chalked markings at set measurements.

Of course, in this digital age, time-lapse also helps the digital artists. Producing art through the physical mediums of sculpting, drawing and building are permanent (at least until the cheese melts and the chalk washes away!) So how can we capture the process of those who work on computers, with digital editing software? Again, time-lapse has a solution.

South Korean artist Seok Jeong Hyeon (better known as Stonehouse) made the news recently with his latest video, depicting the life of a woman from baby to old age through time-lapse. Instead of simply seeing seven or eight different stages of a woman’s life, we see the transformation of the baby, into a child, then a teenager and so on, right before our eyes, through the sequence.

The ability to view time at such rapid intervals but still understand what is going on is a significant benefit of time-lapse photography, one that artists will continue to use as a way to showcase their art, but also as a form of art itself.

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