It all started back in the Winter of 1999 with a circuit board, and the need for a quick photo. I was pre-digital camera at the time, so I slapped the thing on my flat-bed scanner. Not recommended, you scratch the glass. Then I flipped it over, needing to scan the component side, which was deeper, and the components I wanted to see, farther from the platter, darker, but there
all right. It got me thinking. I flipped the scanner on its side. Provided some light, lots of light, got in front of it, and began to experiment..
The equipment is just that, a flat-bed scanner, much like the one you probably own, and a light, preferably a really good one, with a nice big reflector. The CCD (Charged Coupled Device) moves across the glass slowly, and if you were to sit very still, you could take a reasonably accurate image of yourself, of whatever. But if you move.
The Birth of Scanoramic Photography..
From the get-go I began to see the possibilities of this setup. As the scanning head moves, you move with it, or against it, stop, and move again, or dance, capturing time in slices, the motion fixed in two dimensions. It's up to the brain to decipher what all these shapes mean. And that's where the fun begins..
I got my clothes off pretty quick, amazed by the forms my moving body was producing. Suddenly I was female, or some monstrous creature, thin as a stick, or fat like hippos are, or all of those things at once.
I am split up, reformed, shattered and re-built, my solid body becoming liquid, flowing over time and space. My butt becomes my shoulder; the knee-bone is not connected to anything at all. The more I danced in-front of the scanner, the more I was able to predict the effects of motion. I became tuned to the process, and began to work less randomly. There is so much undiscovered possibility.
With everything still, the open scanner produces a stretched, panoramic-like image, hence the term, "scanorama". The original images are quite small, the necessity for a single-pass limiting the DPI to little more than screen resolution (I had a much slower computer at the time), and for an earth-based exhibit they would need to be enlarged by some magnitude (and if someone has a gallery, money for the enlargements, and a desire to see and share these pieces life-size
, do email me!
), certainly doable. But for sure, nothing is lost in their smallness; these ccd images fuzz and blur anyway, the motion cannot be caught perfectly at any resolution, and in all senses this adds to the textural and contemplative quality of the work.
Often it's infuriatingly difficult, trying to get the image you know is possible. There's a certain amount of chance involved in the process, so often no small amount of trial-and-error. I haven't always been entirely successful, but often I have, and this is a selection of some of that work, pieces that resonate along the right lines. There are still many things I'd like to represent using scanoramic techniques, and I'll be doing more work along these lines in the future. Someone else might also want to. You might.
The scanner itself is an old "Colorado Direct 9600" parallel scanner. Quite slow, but still works away in XP, contrary to what most every other Colorado owner will tell you!
The Light was a standard 500W tungsten photographic bulb in a large metal reflector - when I bought this light, for a tenner, the guy said to me "this thing could take down a plane". He was right.
The "twister" types are scanned vertically, the other types, horizontally, in case you fancy trying some yourself (and so far, everyone I've shown these too has wanted to try it for themselves, very cool!).
For the record, none of these images have been edited in any way, save for minor brightness / contrast / colour adjustments; what you see is what you get; everything happens in a single pass. Three seconds, or thereabouts.
By the way, if you have one of the scanoramic business cards I was putting out circa Summer 2000, and you look *very* carefully, you can see my penis. Sorry about that.
After eventually deciding to let this stuff out into the public, I thought I might Google around and see if anyone else had tried this in the interim (I'm quite used to kicking myself in this manner, no problem), and while there have been similar things done with traditional photographic process, and expensive custom "slit" cameras (going back many years, in fact), no one seems to have considered simply throwing a regular flat-bed scanner on its side. But if you know different, do let me know. Okay, on with the show..