• Photographer
  • Prize
    Special Photographer Of the Year
  • Company/Studios
    Jay Mark Johnson
  • Date of Photograph
    2007 - 2012
  • Technical Info
    Digital slit scan photography

As with my two other submitted series--CARBON DATING and TRAINS AND TRESTLES--all of the images in this group are true left-to-right timeline photographs. These are ongoing projects. Locations for these images include the coast lines of Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana and Oregon as well as those of southern England, of Cozumel Mexico, New South Wales, Australia, and the Big Island of Hawaii.


All of the photographs in these series are timelines.

Produced in camera, the photographs are akin to seismographs and electrocardiograms in that they present a seamless left-to-right depiction of events that occured in front of the camera over a period of time. What appears at the left side happened before what appears on the right. The middle portion of the image represents the continuous, uninterrupted transition between the two ends. By implication, the timeline extends indefinitely off toward the past on the left side and indefinitely off toward the future on the right. Stated in an alternative manner, the “x” axis in these images represents the temporal dimension.

More simply, x = time.


When subjects move about in front of the camera they tend to be registered as unrecognizable, distended forms. The clearest images are often compared to the temporal distortions in Salvador Dali’s The Persistence Of Memory or the sort of fun mirror convolutions seen in the Distortion series by André Kertész. With practice and with narrowing constraints it is possible to trace moving subjects, bring fluid gestures into clear focus and separate subjects from the surrounding environment.

My Taichi Motion Studies #128 was the first image that registered a single dance move in uninterrupted, narrative form. The left-to-right evolution of the image is akin to the structure of a sentence or a three act play with a recognizable beginning, middle and end. But many of my images have no such linear development. Instead, subjects are captured in an abstract, featureless setting of horizontal lines extending infinitely off to the left and right--no beginning, no development and no end in sight. It is as though the photograph recorded a cross section taken through the middle of the drama, as though a slice had been cut through the middle of the verb.

Because I modify the camera, using it in a manner for which it was not designed, I find some quirks in its operation that I am able to exploit. Under the right circumstances the altered camera is able to register both the diffraction of light as it passes over objects in the environment and the refraction of light as it traverses the curved glass of the lens. It is possible to record a ground plane of dried mud or of dark, grey-brown tree leaves as a prismatic explosion of diffractive light.

The cyclical patterns of ocean waves breaking along the shore are captured, not as they are seen in an instantaneous snap shot but as they behave over time.

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