Simultaneous Cinema: Sam Burford

Curator: Cavan Huang
date: November 15, 2012
Categories: Design for Entertaining, Experience Design, Motion Graphics
Tags: Cinema, Film, filmmaking, narrative, Photography, Time lapse photography
Photo by Cavan Huang from Fiumano Fine Art (Affordable Art Fair NYC)
Playtime, time lapse photograph

Ever wondered what it would be like to experience an entire feature length film in a single moment? I came across that very thing at an art exhibition in New York this spring. Sam Burford’s Playtime is an amazing time-lapse photographic transcription of the entire Jacques Tati film.

Burford, a UK artist, developed a technique involving a record player and camera that allows him to capture the light that emanates from a film screen and transfer it onto hundreds of layered strips. He then prints them using a metallic C-type process of Diasec, Perspex and aluminium.

Playtime isn’t his first time-lapse transcription. Burford has been mastering this technique for several years now, transcribing famous films like The Wizard of Oz, The Godfather and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like the films he transcribes, each transcription produces remarkably unique and beautifully intricate compositions that warrant closer examination.

When you step closer to the distorted abstract patterns, you can read the story from left to right and top to bottom, making out colors and faint shapes from scenes in the film.

Wizard of Oz, time-lapse transcription

2001: A Space Odyssey, time lapse transcription

Chinatown, time lapse photograph

The Godfather, time lapse photograph

Not only do these time-lapse transcriptions encourage us to look at linear cinematic narratives in a completely different way, but they also celebrate the process of photochemical filmmaking in a time when digital filmmaking is becoming the standard. You can view more of Sam Burford’s work at Fiumano Fine Art.
  • Kiya Kush

    I shall refrain from maligning any individual or body of work. But when I do, I criticize work that solely relies on reprocessing the work of another individual or team. Pushing the limits of remixing is definitely part of where the “edge” is, and I respect the importance, in some cases, of the basis for remixed work being a work viewers/watchers/listeners are likely to be familiar with. But right about now, I’m having one of those moments when I realize that there’s still space for many of us to make worthwhile contributions. I love art when it’s like that; it says to you, “You can do better than this!” But I refrain from maligning any particular artist or body of worth.

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