Drawing Time: Linear Time


The experiments of Muybridge and Marey were undeniably of the greatest importance to the development of cinema. Jeffrey describes the ‘controlled aspect’ of the scientific experimentation of Muybridge and Marey as the aspect that links Animal locomotion (the publication by Muybridge in 1887) to Modernism as it was conceived in the 1920: ‘an aesthetic of control and management in which humanity, marshalled by designers, rehearses for a utopian destiny’ (Jeffrey, 61)


In Death 24x a Second Laura Mulvey discusses the development of a ‘horizontal structure’ of narrative (Mulvey, 28); bringing time into the manageable structure of a recognisable movement from past to future. Mary Ann Doane in The Emergence of Cinematic Time, Modernity, Contingency, the Archive suggests that emerging cinema played a crucial role in structuring time in response to capitalist modernity (Doane, 4) She draws parallels between the ‘representability’ of time through the work of Marey and Muybridge and the reconceptualization of time by modernity:
‘Modernity was perceived as temporal demand’ and the example of the diffusion of twelve million pocket watches through Germany, which at the time had a population of twelve million people, is an illustration of the obsession in western Europe with a punctual, impersonal time which would from then onwards be governed by productivity. 

In an agrarian society, a worker may have obeyed ‘natural time’ according to how he/she worked - time was passed without urgency. In an industrialized society, a worker is exchanging labour for money, rather than goods. Here his/her time is measured according to efficiency and as a result, time becomes abstracted; broken down into measurable units that can be exchanged for money. This is the commodity value, created by Marx to describe the abstracted system of exchange of labour and goods for money within Capitalist society. The need to deliver goods lead to the standardisation of railway timetables, forced the necessity of stabilised and ultimately globally standardised time.

The introduction of new technology brought about a need for a new response to time; one that reflected the new value it held as a measure of labour, efficiency and productivity. It was not simply that Time needed to be standardised to facilitate the transportation of goods, or the coordination of labour. Time needed to be visualised as constituting individual parts that could be reconstituted into an illusion of continuous movement that allowed the viewer to believe in the possibility of capturing Time.  The cinema offered the possibility of recording Time, allowing travel to other spaces and times with a safe return (Doane, 3) 

The new ability to visualize time using moving images brought about a change from thinking about Time as that which is passing and gone, to that which it is possible to preserve, revisit and study.  The use of photography to investigate the efficiency of workers by the Gilbreths is a commonly cited example of the use of static and moving images to picture the body of the worker and use the created material (e.g. the lines created by moving light points) to create working environments that heightened efficiency. 

From The Instant Garden Series, 2008

From The Instant Garden Series, 2008

Bibliography:

Green, D (ed.)

Where is the Photograph? Photoworks/Photoforum, 2003

Gallassi, Peter

Before Painting, MOMA, NY 1981

Jim Flemming & Peter Lamborn Wilson (Ed.)

The Electronic Disturbance Autonomedia new Autonomy Series, 1994

Harvey, David

The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Conditions of Cultural Change 1990 Blackwell, Oxford

Trachtenburg, Alan (Ed.)

Classic Essays on Photography 1980 Leete’s Island Books Inc

Green, David and Peter Seddon  (Ed)

History Painting Reassessed 2000 Manchester University Press

Braun, Marta

Picturing Time: the Work of Etienne-Jules Marey 1830-1904 1992 University of Chicago

Bauman, Zygmunt

Postmodernity and its Discontents 1997 Polity Press

Campany, David (ed)

The Cinematic: Documents of Contemporary Art Whitechapel Ventures Ltd, 2007

Doane, Mary Anne

The Emergence of Cinematic Time, Modernity, Contingency, the Archive 2002 Harvard University Press

 David Green and Joanna Lowry (ed)

Stillness and Time: Photography and The Moving Image, 2006 Photoworks and Photoforum

Graham Gussin & Ele Carpenter

Nothing 2001 August and NGCA

Jeffrey, Ian Revisions; an Alternative History of Photography 1999 National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford

Jussim, Estelle

The Eternal Moment: Essays on the Photographic Image 1989 Aperture

Mulvey, Laura

Death 24 x a Second Reaktion Books Ltd, London 2006

Drawing and Time:Notes on Time and Photography

The Instant Garden, 2009

The Instant Garden, 2009

From the beginning of the medium, photographers recorded moments in time, as well as images of people and places. An examination of the history of photography reveals how representation of movement and perspective lead to a new conceptualisation of Time through photography. Below is a survey of some of the key texts in Photographic Theory, along with others by philosophers on how our concept of Time changed with the development of photographic visual language. 




1. Movement

Marey.gif

In the mid Nineteenth century, the first and second laws of thermodynamics created a new backdrop for understanding the body; the discovery of energy as indestructible changed the view of nature from static to dynamic and energetic. The discoveries of electricity and electromagnetism created a new view of the body as a field of energies...read more





perspective.jpg

2. Perspective

In Before Photography Peter Gallassi discusses the social context of the invention of photography.  Although all the technology to produce photography was present before the eighteenth century, it was the large amount of what he describes as ‘Speculative tinkering’ that spawned the photograph as we know it...read more



3. Linear Time

lineartime.jpg

The experiments of Muybridge and Marey were undeniably of the greatest importance to the development of cinema. Jeffrey describes the ‘controlled aspect’ of the scientific experimentation of Muybridge and Marey as the aspect that links Animal locomotion (the publication by Muybridge in 1887) to Modernism as it was conceived in the 1920: ‘an aesthetic of control and management in which humanity, marshalled by designers, rehearses for a utopian destiny’...read more


4. Time as Illusion

In Death 24 x a Second, Laura Mulvey describes the new secular materialism that grew out of the Enlightenment project, created a new entertainment industry in illusions and uncanny experiences; a ‘new mechanical uncanny’ (40) creating. The history of illusion is a history of producing this effect.; an ‘instantaneous encounter’ with something the mind cannot explain, which exploits our repressed fear of the dead…