Algorithmic Photography is an innovative technique developed by artist Alex May, which explores the concepts of motion and time within contemporary digital photography.
May uses digital cameras and computer code to create composite images from thousands of frames of video, capturing the world in motion in a single frame. Taking inspiration from traditional chemical photography, May replaces the pinhole camera with a viewfinder-less GoPro and photographic film with an algorithm, watching the image develop in his ‘dark room’ software.
Like using different types of film, each algorithm is designed to capture specific information, from bold swathes of colour as people travel through the shot, or subtle movements in nature that are too slow or small to be perceived by the human eye, such as the movement of clouds, raindrops, and insects.
“I’ve always worked with moving images” says May. “I find still photography somewhat alien to how I experience the world since it traps and preserves a moment in time that can no longer be moved through. The images that I’m creating with this technique celebrate motion and use digital technology to bring the world to life beyond the ways we are normally able to physically perceive.”
The resulting photographs usually feature visual noise and video compression artefacts that are an inherent part of the digital process. May is keen to preserve such glitches within the image and rarely uses post processing filters.
“These visual traces, which would normally be hidden or edited out, are fascinating to me in that they reveal details about the equipment and processes used in the capture of the image. If you look at early photographs, such as daguerreotypes, they don’t just capture what’s in front of the camera, they also embody the state of the technology at that time.”
Trails of Birds Around Merlin’s Cave was shortlisted for the British Photography Awards 2019.
The first exhibition of Algorithmic Photographs was part of the “Anna Dumitriu and Alex May: Recent Works” exhibition in the Wright Gallery at Texas A&M University, March 5th-8th 2018.
See the latest images on Alex’s Instagram account.
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