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Photographer Creates Surreal Pictures Through Camera Errors

Jay Mark Johnson creates surreal images that record people and objects moving through time instead of space.

Carib Guerra
Carib Guerra on October 17, 2012. @statusmassage

Jay Mark Johnson was intrigued by the dreamlike effects created when moving objects passed in front of the slit-scan camera he was using for high-resolution panoramas.

Instead of correcting the ‘error’, Johnson experimented with controlling the camera’s focus and timing. These surreal photos are the results.

Slit-scan photography captures images as a series of individual vertical strips. The technique is commonly used in races for the photo finish, and in motion picture special effects like the stargate effect in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

Jay Mark Johnson, in an artist’s statement on his website, further explains his art:

I make photographic timelines. It is an engaging project with plenty of unexpected results. I use an unconventional camera system designed for shooting panoramic space. Though it has a lens up front, the device does not take static, instantaneous snap-shots. Instead, it produces smooth, uninterrupted scans of the surrounding environment. By making a few simple modifications—I click on one button and then wrap the whole thing in tape—I am able to convert it into an effective tool for shooting fluid, continuous timelines. The results can be shocking and unimaginable. Because they seamlessly blend visual depictions of space and time into a single hybrid image they provide an altered “spacetime” view of the world. In these pictures, the rules for perceiving reality are shifted.

The images seen here are cropped versions of the expansive, reality-bending, originals and don’t quite do them justice. Go see the full versions on Jay Mark Johnson’s website.

Jay Mark Johnson

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