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"Telling Time: The relationship between time and the still image."
2000-10-18 until 2001-01-14
National Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Paintings could be described as timeless - you can't talk meaningfully about a picture's beginning and end. But when painting stories which develop over time, or which depict movement, artists have often tried to put time into their still, unchanging images. 'Telling Time' explores the fascinating relationship between time and the still image through paintings, prints, drawings and photographs dating from the 12th to the 20th centuries by artists as varied as Rembrandt, Munch, Turner and Hockney.

One area explored in the exhibition in the Sunley Room is how artists have depicted or described movement, from freezing instants of imbalance to the use of the blur. Another technique was employed by one of the most sustained of all the investigators of motion, the American photographer Eadweard Muybridge. In 1887 he published his 11-volume 'Animal Locomotion', an extraordinary compendium of men, women and animals engaged in a wide range of actions, each one depicted by a sequence of still photographs. Muybridge's experiments proved an important forerunner of the cinema, but they also had their artistic antecedents, as suggested by Rubens's fascinating sheet of studies of dancing peasants which uncannily foreshadows Muybridge's plates.

If still images are timeless they cannot be seen instantly. Looking takes time and an innovative display in Room 1 explores the process of looking. It will include the largest-ever eye-tracking experiment, devised and designed in collaboration with the Applied Vision Research Unit from the University of Derby, which will allow members of the public to observe their own eye-movements as they look at pictures. The experiment will provide an unprecedented amount of data on how we look at paintings and an update of its findings will be posted on a special website during the running of the show.

Time Trail, an audio tour around the Gallery, available from the Soundtrack desks in the Sainsbury Wing and Main Building, will also lead visitors to other paintings in the Collection which have time as their subject or preoccupation.

IMAGE:
Detail of Eadweard Muybridge,
'Dancing Couple' (from 'Animal Locomotion'),
London, Victoria and Albert Museum.


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