Warping time, the safe and legal way.
January 19, 2006 12:03 AM   Subscribe

The Scanner Photography Project takes images with a large-format camera that uses flat-bed scanners instead of paper. The results can be interesting.
posted by I Love Tacos (31 comments total)
Ingenious & fascinating—thanks, ILT.
posted by misteraitch at 12:27 AM on January 19, 2006

wow... creepy, inventive, creative, extremely unique.
it's very interesting how the scanner deals with motion--instead of a blur it's more blob-like wavy movement.
well done
posted by blastrid at 12:41 AM on January 19, 2006

Wow, those are fascinating and beautiful. Some of them feel like they belong in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere...reality, only just a little fucked up.
posted by stray at 12:50 AM on January 19, 2006

This is similar to (yet different from) the timescape project by e.j. gone and Byun Ji-hoon.

While I do like these large-format/flat-bed images, I prefer the timescapes, with their potential to continue indefinately and their relationship to graphs. Oh graphs!
posted by miragliuolo at 1:28 AM on January 19, 2006

Holy crap - that wasn't at all what I expected, and it was Really Cool! thanks!
posted by freebird at 1:28 AM on January 19, 2006

nice one , i might be able to use the scanner software he talks about to get my epson 3490 to scan medium format now !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:03 AM on January 19, 2006

The wobble from people moving reminds me of the blob that extends forward from people in Donnie Darko.

Really interesting. Looks like it has appeared on Slashdot at the same time.

Excellent link! Thank you.
posted by redteam at 2:47 AM on January 19, 2006

I appreciate the similarity between this from his first scanner photographs section, and Neipce's own first photograph in history.

These two are my favorite. The latter especially has a Dave McKean quality.
posted by dgaicun at 3:22 AM on January 19, 2006

Also, a little disappointed in the lack of a certain animal at this link.
posted by dgaicun at 3:24 AM on January 19, 2006

posted by killdevil at 4:43 AM on January 19, 2006

That's really interesting, thanks. The explanation of the time delay and how that maps on the image does indeed "allow scanner photographs to be looked at in a different way - as a sort of 'visual score' recording a sequence of time, rather than as a single instant that has been frozen." There's a potential here to massively expand the scope of what you can do with a photograph in an artistic sense.
posted by patricio at 6:08 AM on January 19, 2006

I was just looking at this site, linked from digg (so if metafilter, slashdot and digg are all looking at it, no wonder the site seemed so slow).

The idea is impressive, but I have to say that the results are less than. They seem very flat and lifeless. Maybe it's because scanners aren't designed for a very wide range of contrasts. I was disappointed.
posted by crunchland at 6:16 AM on January 19, 2006

I'm currently arranging a new server.. be up in ten - fifteen min... thanks! Mike

Another victim of unforseen popularity. Guess I'll check back later.
posted by terrapin at 6:34 AM on January 19, 2006

I keep wondering if that could be adopted for astrophotography... The stars don't move (much), so there wouldn't be problems with the subject being in different places. I bet there would be a ton of other problems, but it would be pretty cool to have a 100+ megapixel camera attached to a telescope.
posted by jiawen at 8:09 AM on January 19, 2006

See also Slit-Scan Photography. Pretty much the same idea in old film camera format. For a low tech access to the same principle, put your head in xerox machine or flat bed scanner and turn it slowly as scan progresses.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:03 AM on January 19, 2006

The intensely irritating part of this post (and the slashdotting, and its appearance on the Make blog) is that now all the trendoid MakeHeads are going to be trying this -- driving the prices of functioning used medium & large format cameras into the stratosphere. And most of them are going to ruin the cameras through arrogant hacking and not succeed in making usable images anyway -- because it is really very difficult to make it all work. Believe me, I know -- I've been working in this area for a while myself.

It's bad enough fighting the yuppies who think putting an "antique" camera on a shelf as sculpture is cool. Now we have to fight sideburned and goateed twinks who think they're handy with a screwdriver and soldering iron. Photography is more than your equipment, guys. Start with a normal camera and see if you have something to say with THAT BEFORE you go destroying irreplacable heirloom photography equipment.

Or at least make sure you don't fuck up the camera permanently before you give up in frustration. So when this all dies down you'll be able to unload it back on the market where someone who can genuinely use it can get the most out of it. Rather than throwing it away.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:06 AM on January 19, 2006

I remember doing this back in 96 or so by scanning various body parts. I found that by rotating my head on top of a scanner bed would create disturbing results. However, this guy has taken it to a level that I never even thought of at the time. Awesome - thanks for the link!
posted by afx114 at 9:10 AM on January 19, 2006

And remember boys and girls, never do anything at all unless you're sure you'll be amazing at it. Otherwise, you fuck it up for those of us who are.
posted by Irontom at 9:15 AM on January 19, 2006

Yes, and don't do anything before checking with seanmpuckett to find out if your intent, attire and social subgroup are acceptable to the activity.
posted by argybarg at 9:23 AM on January 19, 2006

never do anything at all unless you're sure you'll be amazing at it

More like don't go from a bicycle to an 18 wheeler, you might hurt someone. Maybe learn to drive a car out on the road first.
posted by dgaicun at 9:49 AM on January 19, 2006

Cool! Thanks.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:01 AM on January 19, 2006

Best visual art fpp in a long while.

And yeah, what a sham(e) that others will see it and be inspired to make something themselves. Other people ruin everything.
posted by xod at 10:01 AM on January 19, 2006

Gorgeous. Thank you.
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 AM on January 19, 2006

It reminds me of some of the work of Steven Pippin. Also posted here.
posted by xod at 10:41 AM on January 19, 2006

Preach on seanmpuckett! Email me if you figure out what to do about these high school kids finding out about my favorite band!

Seriously though, it is a great idea. It comes off like the guy is trying to claim the invention of slit-scan photography for himself; "I had stumbled across a new tool for examining the relationships between time, motion, and image." Stumbled across an old tool maybe. The use of a scanner does very conveniently combine a sliding shutter and imaging element in one device however.

I think we were on the same page ten years ago afx114; I'm sure my parents were delighted to see me sliding my middle finger across the glass of our very expensive (at the time) ScanJet. Moving things with or against the motion of the scanhead did create some mildly interesting imagery. It wasn't until I tried scanning the light from flashlights and laser pointers that I actually damaged the thing though.

I came across an interesting graphics demo a week or two ago that may relate somewhat to how these images relate to spatiotemporal volumes and the use of such images to segment subject from field in motion photography. Video Tooning (direct link to WMV) is some hot-shit computational photography.
posted by iloveit at 10:54 AM on January 19, 2006

xod: that first Pippin website didn't work so well for me (safari unfriendly, perhaps), but I'm glad I clicked further. I really liked his work!
posted by I Love Tacos at 12:26 PM on January 19, 2006

It's bad enough fighting the yuppies who think putting an "antique" camera on a shelf as sculpture is cool.

Wow, I have an antique film camera -- a 35mm Minolta from 1990. (That was last century!) I've kept it in the closet until now -- I'll be exhibiting it henceforth! Thanks again MetaFilter!
posted by kindall at 2:38 PM on January 19, 2006

posted by dgaicun at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2006

Like many others here, I've also considered the idea of modifying a flatbed scanner into a camera, unlike some, I never actually tried it, but unlike most, I posted it here on MeFi, describing the images it would produce, and thus there is timestamped proof that this idea crops up. :-)

Ok, ok, I really just wanted to post because these photos look so much like what I thought they would look like :)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:38 PM on January 19, 2006

Wow, MakeZine is trendy? Slashdot is trendy? Hacking is yuppie?

Dude! I'll get to score!

posted by -harlequin- at 6:42 PM on January 19, 2006

With regard to motion, the technique he's playing with there is called "slit-scanning" and it was, as far as I know, invented by Douglas Trumbull back in the 1960's.

A famous example of it is the "hyperspace trip" in Kubrick's movie, 2001

It was further refined by a guy named Evgeny Mamut at a company called R/GA in New York, where I worked from 1984 - 1995

Goto rga.com then on the left click on "Company" then "History" then navigate the Flash movie to 1982 and you can see this technique in action in a 1982 Renault commercial.
posted by jfrancis at 12:09 AM on January 20, 2006

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