Research: Images in Sequence

27th November 2019

Youtube: The Art of Photography

For the exercise 3.3 Sequence, I have researched further and found this YouTube video which has some good basic information in it. The host also covers Duane Michals in depth, so I have taken detailed notes from the video which can be read below, some extracts I have added to.


Photo sequence – a group of photographs that work together – they end up equalling a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Concept, illustration or a picture that doesn’t exist, it is suggesting that.

Eadward Muybridge in the 1870’s predates motion picture. He used complex systems of multiple cameras which would be tripped in sequence and he would end up with motion studies. People were not use to seeing photographs lined up like this and hadn’t experienced motion interpreted in this way.

Photography’s Eccentric Genius: Eadweard Muybridge. Photo: Courtesy Eadweard Muybridge via Sotheby’s Online. The link takes you to a very good article on Muybridge.

In the 1960’s a new conceptual phase began and Duane Michals is one of the photographers within this specific phase. He has thinking and concept behind the images.

Techniques he uses: Double exposure, slow shutter speeds allowing certain things to abstract in the image. He often incorporates his own handwriting into things.

Themes: Mortality, spirits, after-life, psychological undertones.

He is well known for image sequences that are more like story boarding – they tell a story. They are a sequence of images that unfold an event which usually is very simple.

Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty

In the following text Duane Michals talks about the above photographic sequence, ‘Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty.’

Duane Michals’ best photograph: French Vogue does quantum physics

‘I bought the mirror in Bath. It was the perfect way to illustrate Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle’

One day in 1999, French Vogue called me up to see if I could illustrate a feature on quantum physics for a special science issue of the magazine. I’ve always been interested in physics and I like trying to photograph things that seem un-photographable – rather than looking at reality, I aim to get deep inside it and explore. So I said yes.

When I was at school in Pennsylvania in the 1940s, our science teacher Mr Dunlap taught us that atoms had electrons, neutrons and protons, and that was pretty much it. But after the second world war, with the development of accelerators, much smaller particles were discovered: muons, quarks, gluons, bosons and others.

Then Werner Heisenberg, a quantum pioneer, said you cannot predict with any certainty the position or velocity of a particle – they interact in total chaos. That was revolutionary and it prompted Einstein to say he could not believe God would play dice with the universe. The notion that the fundamental expression of energy is something chaotic pulled the carpet from under a lot of thinking. How could anyone not be curious about that?

I bought the convex mirror in an antique store in Bath, on a visit to the Royal Photographic Society. I was so excited by its distortions, I brought it back to America. People on the flight must have thought I was the vainest person in the world – carrying a big mirror with me in the cabin.

I thought I could illustrate Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principlewith the mirror, which transforms everything in front of it. When my model moved it even slightly, her image changed completely. It was strange, liquid-like and very exciting. It seemed as if I was looking at her energy evolving and vibrating right in front of my eyes. Of course, we can’t see energy changing state at this level, but to see her distort into all these faces was still marvellous.

I made a series of shots and called them Dr Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty. In the pictures, the models lips get bigger, her eye stretches and – in the last image, when I made her look at the camera – her cheek appeared in the mirror and there was no face at all. It was just a blank slate. That seemed the perfect way to end it – like pure white energy. Interview by Karin Andreasson 2015

It is a series of images that show a women looking into a mirror – realism – duality – psychological undertone. It is not a time based study so it could be presented out of order.

Within this series, Duane is seen sitting on the right of the images.

Self-portrait, having tea with a friend. The story progresses from laughing to boredom to his friend falling asleep and finally in the last image they have left the picture frame, it is empty but their ‘set,’ cups etc…. It is a simple concept that has a beginning, middle and end. It is time based therefore the images have to be shown in order.

Chance Meeting, Duane Michals. Image from

Very simple, read from left to right, top to bottom row. You see how two gentlemen walk down the alley and there is a point in the middle where they are both together and one looks at the other, in recognition? and in the last frame the other gentleman looks back as though he has just remembered the other fellow? So you get a circle of the encounter.

What is being communicated in this set of images – What was the point of this encounter? So again it has a psychological undertone but it is up to the viewer to decide.

In this sequence time exists in a storyboard type format.

Image from Stony Brook University website

In the above sequence, ‘Things are Queer,’ you have to find your own relationship within the images because it is not a time based sequence but surrealistic.

Top left image: a bathroom scene with a picture above the sink that you cannot make out the content of.

Second image: we realise there are legs that are out of scale, out of proportion with its surroundings.

In the third image: we get to see the man in the bathroom.

Middle row left: we realise it is a picture in a book.

Fifth image: we see somebody is reading the book.

In the sixth image: The gentleman is moving down the hall.

In the bottom left image: There is a picture on the wall which we can see the details of which we find is actually image number six of the gentleman walking down the hall.

Eighth image: We get a reminder that it is the picture above the sink in the first image.

Ninth image: Finally we get the scene again from image 1.

This sequence does not suggest time, there is no traditional beginning, middle, end but we are seeing the surrealistic interpretation of what is the scene which is all inside of itself.

It is a complexed image sequence which is not time based but it is scene based.

In the time based sequences you get to see the set (constant background environment) it does not change. The sequence deals with how the actors within that set move within the scene and that is how we get the perception of time.

In the last example the set changes so it is two sets that live inside one another which creates the surrealistic quality and the loop.

If you are going to create a storyboard sequence there are two things to consider:

(A) The relationships of the images to one another eg do they have to be in a particular order, can they be taken out of order?

Another example would be Duane’s portrait of Andy Warhol which is four images of different parts of Warhols head, seen below.

Andy Warhol. Screen shot from Youtube, The Art of Photography (above)

This sequence works because (1) FAMILIARITY with the subject – most of us know who Andy Warhol is and (2) we are seeing the parts which equal greater than the sum, they give you an image of Warhol. If these images were isolated you will not know what the whole image is. It relies on the relationship of the images to one another.

(B) You have to consider time within sequence work, it either exists or it doesn’t exist, they are treated very differently.

In sequence work it is usually between four and nine images that work together. They work better generally this way because the layout works with non-prime numbers 4, 6, 8, 9 etc…

Assemble as a set.

This link will take you to another post that discusses sequencing and with it Muybridge, Michals, Arnatt, Hilliard and Ruscha.

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