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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.

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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.

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Lead image via Design Boom

@zachsokol