Timescans by Robert Bodnar

This time I’m presenting you with another great photographer I’ve come across at a small exhibition of reunited academy graduates in Vienna. The space was small and quite shabby, with perforated walls and smoky air, but the artworks were definitely not. Especially one photograph caught my eye, as I didn’t quite understand what it showed and would also only find out when I met its creator at another exhibition later. Then and there I finally got to know the brain behind the photographic jigsaw, Robert Bodnar. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna some time ago and has been working on his photographic technique which allows him to create these mystique images of day and night in one single frame ever since. So, not to torture you any longer, I’ll try to explain his photographic practice. Robert is shooting thousands of images over a period of hours and days, which he then reassembles in vertical or horizontal stripes into one photograph, reminding of the chronomatographies of a Muybridge and Marey, showing the course of time, movement, change and coincidence.

In his own words:

“In order to visualize time and dynamics, in 2004 I developed the fundamentals of “Time Scans”.
 Intrigued by extreme long exposure works of Michel Wesely, I worked on a customizable virtual slit scan camera, which combines long exposure, multiple exposure and the idea of slit scan in a new way.

Looking at a time scan photograph, thousands of images shot over various periods of time compacting hours or days in one picture can be seen.
I am interested in presenting particular places, which show a high amount of dynamics in form of movement, alteration, expansion and decay.
Each photograph is build up out of thousands of moments, trying to tell the story of becoming.” 

Hence, Robert’s “Time Scans” freeze time and present an abstract construct of reality, as he compresses it into one single moment. In other words he is creating a kind of flip-book of time that also reminds of impressionistic works of art. From afar you can see the whole picture, a landscape image capturing the course of a day starting from the early hours on the bottom and going up to the dark shades of night, for instance. Taking a closer look, however, the photograph reveals its abstractness as a composition of thousands of vertical or horizontal stripes, revealing each short moment of that same day.

So no wonder I was that puzzled and enthralled by Robert’s artistic approach to photography at first sight. Robert has not only invested a lot of effort and resources into developing his “Time Scans”, through which he is demonstrating the mechanical side of photography, but moreover he is presenting a static documentation of the course of time and freezes it on one medium forever. Not to forget that they are aesthetically appealing at the same time!


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