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A Seminal Duchamp Work Was Re-Imagined As A Kilometer-Long Light Painting

"Human Tide" is a long exposure/time-lapse ode to the legendary Dadaist.
March 17, 2014, 8:20pm

Last past August marked the hundredth anniversary of legendary artist Marcel Duchamp's stay in Herne Bay in England, a summer which many believe marked a turning point in his work. To celebrate the anniversary, an arts festival was organized called the Marcel Duchamp I Am Not Dead Festival, which included a variety of creative art pieces (though no urinals, to our knowledge). One work stood out, a series of short films called Human Tide that interprets one of Duchamp's art pieces into a kilometer-long stretch of light painting, suspended across the Bay.

Created by Rob Lawrence with support from digital agencies, Syzygy and Unique Digital, Human Tide is a re-imagination of La Maree Humaine, a study of drawings Duchamp made before 3 Standard Stoppages, his attempt to concentrate the idea of "chance" through canvas slips, glass panels, black leather, and pieces of thread.


Human Tide, however, captures "chance" in the form of three separate kilometer-long walks of light, preserved on film. As the sun went down, a small group of people carrying light sticks were shot using a 3D mirror rig (originally developed by James Cameron) that allows two cameras to see the same image from different viewpoints. Long exposures were captured on one camera while a time-lapse was captured on another, together forming a light painting on a moving background "just as Duchamp intended," according to the team.

More from the creators: "At the same time, the walkers were using a smartphone app that recorded their location via GPS. The result was a 'digital tide,' a counterpart to the film that painted the path of the tide not in light but in data. It is free to download, re-use and remix."

The whole project is visually stunning and a striking ode to one of the leaders of the Dada movement. It's also a beautiful rendering of the Bay Duchamp spent a summer gazing at, though modernized to fit the tech-art landscape that now exists 100 years later.

See more of the making of Human Tide on theHuman Tide blog.



Lead image via Design Boom