GJON MILI

was a photographer for Life Magazine between 1938 and 1984. He did lots of interesting things during his photographic career, but for me the most interesting work he produced was this series of images which capture sequences of movement on film using a STROBOSCOPIC flash (something which was apparently first invented by JOSEPH PLATEAU in 1832).

The images pictured above have probably already made their way around the Tumblrsphere multiple times, but they’re so striking and interesting that I had to make a post! Images captured using a stroboscopic flash give the viewer the opportunity to compare all parts of the movement sequence on one exposure. Quite different from the technique developed by EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE who famously ‘filmed’ the movement of a running horse by setting up a bank of cameras along a path, which were mechanically triggered by the movement of the horse pulling a thread as it moved past the camera. Muybridge’s technique was revolutionary for it’s time (not to mention a bit crazy), but it doesn’t produce the same ‘overlayed’ quality that Mili achieves. The overlay allows you to really make comparisons between each stage of the movement (the detail of which is obviously determined by the frequency of the stroboscopic flash) - The subject matter Mili chose was also really interesting. The “how we sleep” series must have had fairly long intervals between ‘flashes’, but shows the body relaxing from the position it begins sleeping to the position it assumes when ‘fully’ relaxed.

The flashes are presumably at regular intervals, so it’s also interesting to see how this technique reveals the speed at which something (like the hand dropping or the arm raising) varies throughout the sequence and you get overlayed areas which become either really sparse if it’s a quick part, or really dense if it’s slowing down.

Despite the fact that these images are only 2D and static, they give you so much information as to the nature of a movement which, in turn implies information about things like the weight of an object or a fabric, or the expression of the movement i.e. is Gene Kruper playing an aggressive or a gentle beat. It’s like playing back a film, but without the element of time. Anyway, there are lots of ways you can talk about these images, I could stare at them for hours… Even though they stay the same…

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