I recently conducted a dance research experiment, formulating a hypothesis to guide a study of the body in 60 minutes. For my study I wanted to use long exposure photography to track movement over time. For my specific research I chose to photograph a small phrase, and then retrograde the same phrase (dancing it from end to start rather than start to end) and take a photograph of that movement. I wanted to see if the two images, one dancing start to finish and the other finish to start, created the same movement picture. And with this study I hypothesized that my pairs of images would look the same. In an earlier post I have created a gallery with the 20 images my study created.
I made 10 small phrases (20 total when the retrograded versions are added) that I would move through and photograph for my study. I set these movement phrases to specified counts and time measures, replicating the same counts for both the original and retrograde, so as to make the phrases as similar as possible before I moved and photographed them. I wanted to see how nuanced the differences would be.
After conducting my study and analyzing its data, I found that while at first glance the images for phrase 1 and retrograde phrase 1R appear to be the same, but upon further analysis they have nuanced differences. This was true for all sets of movement across the different phrase types. I appear darker in some spots than others, showing that I spent more time in that position, and in others my body is angled differently throughout the movement when the pictures are compared. General movement pathways were the same, but the intentions and placement of different positions showed that movement cannot truly be replicated.
This project was only the beginning to my research in the dance field. I am interested in continuing to use long-exposure photography to see movement over time. Using this tool, where the shutter speed is decreased to expose the photograph for longer periods of time (allowing one to move freely throughout the photo and create ghost images of themselves), I can hopefully work more with studying my movement and others’. In the future I would like to do another study, this time in a more light-controlled environment, and use a longer exposure to explore and learn from my personal movement tendencies in a more improvisational setting.