Paul St George


Late in the nineteenth century, researchers (Londe, Brissaud, Dessoudeix, et al) used chronophotography to help doctors analyse the distorted movements of psychiatric patients. It was assumed that the patient was possessed. If the doctors could find a correlation between the pathological movements of the patient and the pattern of movement of some other creature they would then uncover what had possessed the patient. If, the theory went, the involuntary movements of the hysterical patient were those of a jaguar then, explaining ignotum per ignotius, a jaguar had possessed the poor madman.

Later, in the twentieth century, researchers (Gilbreth, Shaw, Talbot, et al) used Chronocyclography to determine the most efficient way to perform an act such as typing, making an apple pie, filing record cards, performing surgery or assembling a manufactured item. Their findings were used to design kitchens, keyboards, workplaces, operating theatres and assembly lines. Their nascent method was time and motion study and their technique was to attach a small light to the wrist of the subject and then to record the trace of the subject’s movement whilst performing a task. The trace of an efficient person’s movements would be recorded and this unique and ideal line of movement could then be used as a template. Less efficient apprentice workers would be trained to follow the track of the efficient worker and workplaces could be laid out in the most effective pattern. The aim was mechanical efficiency; more work done in less time. Clearly this training method sacrificed physiological and motivational differences between individuals on the altar of uniformity and measurability.

My work uses a mixture of these two chronophotographic approaches but for quite a different purpose. My aim is not to discover what has possessed a person or to find the best way to exploit their labour, but to visualise what they imagine.

The chapter would draw out a narrative from methods of recording movement, through methods of analysing and presenting the recordings of movement to an understanding of the aesthetic, social, cultural and political implications of this field of movement capture.

In doing this research I have also discovered that these images, when seen in pairs as stereo-chronocyclographs reveal something profound and significant about the discreteness of events, causality, binary relations and dimensionality.


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