Exhibition at the National Media Museum, Bradford

In the Blink of an Eye is part of imove, a Cultural Olympiad programme in Yorkshire.

The purpose of this exhibition was to explore the relationship between media and movement, and how artists and photographers have responded to this through different times and technology from  the 1800’s to modern day through a mix of media such as photography and video. I was looking forwards to this exhibition and seeing some of the ways in which motion had been captured photographically and its evolution.

Some of the most famous examples of movement were in the work by Eadweard Muybridge, but just seeing the series of images didn’t help to convey movement to me at all. I was more impressed by the work of Etienne-Jules Marey who had worked through photographing movement, using models of birds in flight through to his very modern invention in the 1880’s of a motion capture suit.  Marey seemed to be very forward thinking in his work to understand movement, his invention of the black suit with white lines down the arms and legs which reduced movement from a visual form to a graphical representation that could be analysed is technology that’s still used today, albeit improved to capture even more with reflective sensors.

Gallery two was more interesting for me as it featured more photography including slow mo, images with fast shutter speeds capturing the action and freezing it, and then slow shutter speeds were you see some of the subject but there is more motion blur and shape leaving a very ethereal and ghost like presence.

Looking at some of the images, it made me think of how photography has gone from being carefully measured taking as much time as it needed to now being disposable and fast, and I feel that a balance needs to be made between the two. I’m glad that when we’re taking portraits and people in action images that technology, both film and digital, have moved on where the subject doesn’t need to hold a pose for minutes. Looking at ‘Pasha and Baydere’ by Roger Fenton is a good example of this as the dancers wrists are tied to the ceiling with rope. I’ve included this postcard of the image as it shows where our photography has come from and the improvements made over the decades.

Overall the exhibition was interesting but it felt a little disjointed spread over two galleries and with the mix of film and photography, some of it didn’t flow as it should have. On the other hand some parts were inspiring; the milk drop by Harold Edgerton was something that I might experiment in replicating myself at some point.



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