About that stroboscope in the attic.

Creating an image showing thinking, doing and making art.

This week two things happened at the same time, potentially in the way Jung talked about Synchronicity, an idea brought to my attention by that Police album of the same name.

  1. I found a need for a single image for my blog which showed thinking, doing and making art. A Google image search for <thinking AND doing AND making> complete with search operators drew a blank. And…
  2. I went into the attic and saw the old stroboscope I got from a car boot sale.

As a 60yrs + person I remember frequently having strobes in discos before their connection to seizures was noticed and they were banned or controlled. For people who don’t know, strobes in discos were seriously cool. When switched on in a darkened room everybody appeared to be moving very slowly and your eyes tendency to retain an image for a few milliseconds and produce traces, made people look like they had many arms and legs.

Using the strobe at night in my garden I had an image of me, mysterious in black, moving in the dark through space highlighted by a series of frozen frames from a strobe.

This image could show thinking, in that I would need to think about how a stroboscope could be used with my camera and a long exposure, it would show doing as I could do this at night in my back garden (hoping the neighbours would not see it and call the police), and it would show making as I would make a photographic image.

A plan was formulated and family warned and I felt sure that if the police were called they would understand as they did do that album called ‘Synchronicity’ in 1983 and they could quietly play a bit of it to placate the neighbours should the need arise.

The camera was set up on a tripod, the strobe connected to the mains, as dusk came tests were done to give a sufficiently long exposure. I dressed in black and did a few test shots and what became apparent was that even at dusk, a person dressed in black was invisible to the camera. Kind of obvious in retrospect but hindsight always gives you perfect vision. The strobe had to be much closer and I needed to dress in white to be seen.

A shorter exposure was used with the strobe closer but my expectation that the strobe would be like a flashgun showed that it was not bright enough. Also the rate of strobing had to be increased assuming doubling the speed would double the level of illumination. I had hoped for a set of clear seperated exposures but with a faster rate of strobing the effect was more like that of a non-strobing light. I look like somebody walked by with a vape and blowing a cloud of smoke.

This image is later, so it is darker. The strobe is fast enough now it appears to be a continuous light and is much closer to me. This is a 30s exposure at f8 and I time a walk across the space to fill the 30 seconds of the exposure. Here the image is more dense the slower I go.

After some experimentation, I can use the speed at which I move to deepen the density of the image recorded. I use the 30s exposure at f8 and a 10s delay for the shutter firing so that I can control my start point and count 30s to control the point at which I finish in the frame. The review screen on my camera provides feedback on what the effect of what I do has on the final image. The image is the review in this experiential learning process.

A powerful and simple function of a photographic image is that it is a re-viewing of experience but also a significant catalyst of director of the experience. The making of the image is the experience and the re-view and as such influence thinking about how the image is made.

After about 50 exposures and an hour and a half of playing around and experimenting with using my movement to control the exposure, I got to a couple of images I was happy with.

This one has an interesting contrast between different parts of the image of the moving figure. This has some cropping and some modification of the image with dodging and burning to control highlights and darkness. To me this best showed thinking, doing and making.

This image was most interesting and was made by simply raising my arms fast at first them slowing down over the 30s exposure. As a preview, it looked otherworldly, like an angel was landing, but as a full sized image it was less otherworldly. I did quite a lot of modification to make the full-sized image look like the pleasing impact of the preview.

Summary of this as art as experiential learning.

  • This was all situational. Experiential learning is founded on learning in the here and now.
  • I had an intention and an image in my head of what the final form could look like. This did not happen but something else did, not better, not worse than the original intention, just different.
  • It was a journey of uncertain outcome. I had to change what I did over the time I was working on this. The path emerged from the walking.
  • It was an active process that emerged from an active physical experience.
  • I made something. Poiesis occurred. An image or series of images existed after this that did not exist before. Each image was witnessed by me and through each witnessing, the ideas for the next image emerged. Art is witnessed by an audience in the end but it is witnessed by the artist or maker before this.
  • Making each image was the process. The image is the experience and witness to the experience. Experiencing and reviewing are the same thing.
  • The whole thing could be understood as a form of research in which a hypothesis is formulated and tested, but each iteration of this changes the direction of the research. This makes it different from quantitative and qualitative research and can be best described as performative research. The outcomes of this research are situational, subjective, emergent and personal. This, done as research by someone else, somewhere else would produce a different outcome.
  • Thinking, doing and making art is shown in one image. An attached description or exposition helps clarify this. But without an exposition, each viewer would see a different thing. Words used to describe doing are more objective and more universally understood. But the experience was personal and subjective. The image is closer to the experience but more open to subjective response. The image is more a accurate representation, but more subjective. This is a paradox of how we do and how we show experiential learning.

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