Slow motion footage is all the rage at the moment. Shooting at a high frame rate to capture the hidden nuances of rapid motion has gone from a novel luxury to something your dad can do on his new iPhone. Videos of rupturing watermelons, unraveling water balloons, and slapped flesh rippling like a pond all inundate the pages of YouTube. So when The Learning Connexion was granted access to a slow motion camera for one day, the challenge was to think of unique things to shoot, befitting a school of creativity and art.
The RED Epic arrived – a camera capable of capturing high quality video one hundred times faster than usual. Along with it came a macro lense for filming close up, and powerful lamps for blasting the required amount of light into the rapidly gnashing shutter. We filmed charcoal breaking and splintering as it made its mark, ink blossoming onto wet paper and paint splashing across the surface of a plaster statue.
The staff of TLC were all to keen to be involved in our experiments. Caretaker Michael Crump took a slap to the face and Robert Franken’s magnificent moustache transformed into a bizarre sea anemone as he blew a raspberry at us at 300 frames per second.
The real magic for me happened when we took the camera to the Hot Arts department. Having filmed a bronze pour before, I knew how amazing the sights and sounds down there are to behold – and the slow motion footage didn’t disappoint. The flames that lashed out of a red hot piece of steel when kerosene and detergent were added were barely visible at the time, but were a brilliant fireworks show on film. The energy release of molten lead hitting cold water could be seen in the form of shock waves travelling through the fish tank.
I had experimented with video art before while studying for my Advanced Diploma – filming inks and fluids up close and out of context they became abstract elements. But using a slow motion camera for the first time introduced a new field of play – that of time. Being able to see the unseen reactions of artists' materials gave me a new appreciation for the science and physics that occur in the fraction of a second when materials touch a surface and a mark is made.