This is a photograph of the artist Max Ernst by Frederick Sommer. Ernst was connected to the Surrealists who were interested in the world of the unconscious and dreams. In dreams the everyday mixes and creates strange juxtapositions. In this photograph Frederick Sommer has created a sandwich negative in the dark room by placing two negatives on top of one another. He would have had to alter the exposure time to compensate for using two negatives. Like the surrealists Sommer has Juxtaposed two images - an image of Hass and an old textured wall. Is he making a connection between the decay effects of nature on a man made wall and the ultimate aging effect of time on the human body?
Album cover for Travis '12 Memories' 2003 - photographs by Anton Corbijn
This album cover is similar to Sommer's image. Each band member has been photographed from a distance (a view that includes some kind of texture) and then this images has been merged with a close up portrait. Here we see a trickle down effect from early twentieth century pioneers to early 21st century commercial packaging. However, even in 1949, when Sommer created his image of Hass, the act of combining images together was already established.
Some of the earliest examples of merged images are found in cinema. Early films were often just one long take but soon film maker were editing several scenes. Pioneers such as George Melies (and others) creatively experimented with the way you could cut from scene to scene and the art of editing was born (watch 'The Cutting Edge - The Magic of Movie Editing'). Also watch Lois Weber's 'Suspence' 1913.
Dziga Vertov 'Man with a Movie Camera 1929
An eye is superimposed with a lens ('I am kino-eye, I am mechanical eye') and a mans face is superimposed with a machine. Dziga Vertov's revolutionary film 'Man with a Movie Camera' (watch an ongoing modern remake here) experimented, expanded and reinvented what could be done with a camera and how you could edit the film. The moving image is the ultimate Photomontage but rather than a static image you have multiple images, one after the other, creating strange juxtapositions and new meanings. Vertov's films are like a living Dada Photomontage. Vertov wasn't making art - he was making work for the people. In doing so he helped create the language of cinema. Like the juxtaposition used in Surrealism, editing film together creates new meaning.
It was in scene Transitions in cinema where we see images that look like a sandwich negative or a multiple exposure.
Stills from Pather Panchali (directed by Satyajit Ray) 1955
Satyajit Ray first ever film, made with an inexperienced crew and untrained actors, is one of the most beautiful films ever made (sit back have a cup of tea and watch it here). At several key stages transitions are used - blending scenes into one another - mixing everyday reality with a dreamlike quality. These moments pass quickly in the film but frozen they reveal themselves as rich, layered multiple exposures. Many modern films use this technique - there will probably be one in the next film you see.
Still from Pather Panchali
As well as transition shots 'Pather Panchali' juxtaposes images within the same scene. In the famous train scene Apu and Durga run to catch a glimpse of a train. Apu and Durga come from a poor traditional rural village and the train represent industrialisation and the future. By contrasting the modernity of the train with the children's simple life style juxtaposes the traditions of the past with the possibilities of the future. Today a lot of people pine for a simpler less consumer led life but here industrialisation is shown as a positive force.
Rene Magritte was a surrealist painter who often combined or juxtaposed two images together. Most of us have seen rain and we have seen men in suites (Magritte used these figures as short hand for the bourgeois) – they are both everyday sights. In our dreams it could rain business men - as in this above painting by Magritte. These are the kind of Juxtapositions the Surrealists liked to play with.
Rene Magritte 'The Explanation' 1954
Rene Magritte 'le modele rouge' 1935
These images by Magritte show how he would juxtapose two images to create a new strange image. A carrot becomes a bottle or shoes become feet (man made objects merged with natural forms). Magritte was a Surrealist who were interested in dreams and the unconscious. In a dream you will combine everyday things but by combining them they become strange. You may dream of a hat or a piece of cheese - both very ordinary. However, in your dream they appear to you as a hat made out of cheese - this is an element of surrealism.
Salvado Dali 'Telephone - homard' 1938
This is a photograph of Salvador Dalí's 'Téléphone-homard (Lobster Telephone)', 1938. Dali was a Surrealist and one of the key themes of Surrealism was the unconscious mind. Again Dali, like Magritte, has used juxtaposition. We have all seen a plastic lobster and we have all seen a telephone but by combining them together Dali has created something Surreal. The surreal look has slowly merged with popular culture and many adverts today have a surreal quality. Surrealism is now the norm.
Rene Magritte - 'Empire of Lights' 1953-54
In this painting Magritte explores the relationship between night and day in one image. The sky is blue and scattered with cloud but the ground is dark apart from a single street light illuminating the scene.
Jerry Uelsmann 'Untitled' 1969
An old house grows from the stump of a tree and another tree floats above an island. These Photo montages by Jerry Uelsmann have the surreal quality of a Magritte and seem to have been pieced together smoothly using a layer mask in Photoshop (read tutorial here or see video tutorial here). However, they have been made in a darkroom using burning and dodging, masks made out of cardboard and patience. Uelsmann came to prominence during the 1960's during the Pop Art era. Photography is famed for its objective, mechanical eye. It can be used as evidence in a court of law. However, these images are clearly fantastical - and with the invention of Photoshop most photographs are altered in some way. In the digital age is photography still an objective medium?
Wanda Wulz - Self Portrait 1932
In this image Wanda Wulz has used the sandwich negative approach to merge herown image with that of a cat. The notion of a human turning into an animal is called anthropomorphism and has been used repeated in literature - for exam Franz Kafka's - 'The Metamorphosis'.
In this contemporary advert a human figure has been merged with a collection of brass instruments. The curves of the figure has been replaced with the curves of object. In this instant Photoshop has been used.
E.J. Marey 'Geometric Chronophotograph of a man in a black suit' 1883
Etienne-Jules Marey created images of the moving figure (also see Eadweard Muybridge). Marey was a scientist who used art whereas Muybridge was an artist who created pseudo-scientific images. However, Marey's images were slow shutter speed shots and he used a strobe light. As the strobe flashed it created an image of the figure - therefore creating multiple figures showing the subject move though time and space.
Photography is, in many ways, where art and science meet and these images show Harold Edgerton’s experiments with high speed photography. This image was created by having the camera on a tripod and using a slow shutter speed. However, Edgerton used a strobe light – each time it flashed it captured the figure in mid movement.
Umberto Boccioni 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space' 1913
In this sculpture above the futurist artist Umberto Boccioni has captured in three dimensions a figure moving through time and space. Notice how the calf muscles are repeated - like a slow shutter speed photograph made solid. It is similar to Marcel Duchamp's 'Nude Descending a Staircase' where we see a figure repeated going down stairs.
'Duchamp Descending a Staircase' Life Magazine 1952 by Eliot Elisofon
Marcel Duchamp 'Nude Descending a staircase (No2)' 1912
'Nude descending a staircase (No2)' was the painting that changed Marcel Duchamp's life. The figure hardly looks nude because it hardly looks human. You can just about make out the form of a figure move diagonally across the composition. triangles and semi circles of brown and yellow hues add vibrancy to the image. When Duchamp submitted Salon des Independants, it was coldly received. The cubist painter and theorist Albert Gleizes asked Duchamp's brother to ask him to 'Voluntarily' withdraw it. It did not conform to what the cubist circle wanted to represent their ideas (Cubism showed the world from multiple viewpoints). It seemed too futurist to them since it contained movement (Futurism, although sharing a certain look of Cubism, showed objects moving through time and space).
The Cubists wanted to clarify and strengthen their position against other 'ism' that were cropping up. Embarrassed Duchamp's brother asked him to concede, which he did without making a fuss. However, the incident did affect Duchamp -
"This affair helped me to totally escape my past, my own personal past. I said to myself, 'Well, if that's how the way they want it, then there's no question about me joining a group; one can only count on oneself, one must be a loner.'"
Soon after Duchamp would turn his back on painting and start to question the very nature of art. He started placing objects from the world into gallery spaces, he called them 'ready-mades', most famously in 1917 with 'Fountain'.
Cecil Beaton - 'T.S.Eliot' 1956
Cecil Beaton often used Multiple exposures in his portraits to show different views of the same person in one image. He would have used a tripod to keep the camera in the same position so the back remains the same but the figure moves. This could be achieved by exposing the film four times in the camera (though you have to lower the exposure time accordingly), exposing the same piece of photographic paper with three different negatives or blending Layers in Photoshop.
Alvin Langdon Coburn 'Ezra Pound' 1917
This photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn creates a vortex effect from a simple portrait shot. It is an image of Ezra Pound who was a key member of the English Vorticism group (Vorticism shared qualities with Cubism and Futurism). In the darkroom the paper has been exposed three times - with each exposure the image has been re sized and refocused. Exposure time would have to be reduced so the paper did not become over exposed.
Alvin Langdon Coburn 'Vortograph' 1917
At his best Coburn experimented with unusual viewpoints and created some of the first abstract photographs with his 'Vortographs'. They were created by using three mirrors to create a kaleidoscopic images.
Warhol 'Triple Elvis' 1963. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
In 'Triple Elvis' a promotional photograph of Elvis is overlaid three times using the silkscreen process. This creates a visual Jump - creating movement in a static image. It also suggests that celebrity is shallow - that stars are turned into products to be consumed by the viewer. When you see a Warhol in the flesh you notice that each silkscreened image is slightly different to the next. Little imperfections give the initially mechanical image painterly qualities.
Eugène Thiébault - 'Henri Robin and a Specter', 1863
"Partial Dematerialization of the Medium Marguerite Beuttinger," ca. 1920, by an unknown photographer.
These images above are from the exhibition 'The Perfect Medium - Photography and the occult'. These images are from the late 19th and early 20th century - an age when photography was relatively young. The fact that some people believed these images were true could say something about gullibility, but also the magical power of photography. In our age of Photoshop manipulation these images are obviously fake. However, we forget how these images would seem unfathomable to their contemporary audiences. Slow shutter speeds, double exposures and photographic trickery were used to create these strange images.
Idris Khan is a contemporary photographer who overlays the work of others on top of one another. The top image shows where Khan overlaid the Bechers water tower series. This has given the image the feel of a charcoal drawing and the images have an eerie, ghostlike atmosphere. Although these images are not fast shutter speed examples they show a life times work in an instant – warping time by showing the work in an instant.
Harry Callahan 'Alley, Chicago' 1948
Edward Steichen 'Rockefeller Center, New York' 1932
Edward Steichen has sandwiched two negatives together to create abstract forms from the urban environment. Geometric black forms are created and contract with softer patterned areas.
Charles Sheeler 'New York No.2' 1951 Oil on Canvas
Charles Sheeler 'Study for Improvisation on a Mill Town' 1948
Charles Sheeler 'Study for Improvisation on a Mill Town' 1948
Charles Sheeler 'Improvisation on a Mill Town' 1949
In the three images above we can see the process of the artist Charles Sheeler. Sheeler worked across a variety of mediums throughout his career. His sharp and tonal black and white photographs of industrial buildings and machinery have a stark beauty. These photographs have a look of the work of Paul Strand (who he collaborated with in his early career on the film 'Manhatta' 1921). During research for his painting 'Improvisation on a Mill Town' (1949) he created a photomontage by using the sandwich negative process. Where the two images merge new dramatic shapes, forms and lines are created. He then used these photomontages as the basis for final painting.
Charles Sheeler 'Millyard Passage' Photomontage 1948
Charles Sheeler 'Manchester' 1949 Oil on Canvas
Dan Mountford - "Double Exposure Series"
Aspects of Dylan Culhane's and Dan Mountford's experiments with multiple exposure have a similar feel to the work of Sheeler. Frederick Sommer created a sandwhich negative in the darkroom, Jerry Uelsmann used the burning and dodging technique in the dark room but Culhane and Mountford have exposed the same piece of negative twice in the camera (all these techniques can also be done very easily on Photoshop). You could also put one film through a camera twice (you could retrieve the leader with a film retriever). Many old cheap cameras like a Holga, a Sprocket Rocket, a Matchbox Pinhole, an old box brownie allow you to open the shutter as many times as you want and wind the film on when it suits you.
Double exposure using a Holga
Mark Adamson - 35mm film through a Kodak Dualflex
My Double Exposures experiments using a Box Brownie No2 with 35mm film.
Images are rarely scene on their own. From the moment we wake up we are bombarded with images - serial packets, breakfast news, billboards, bus stop adverts, the morning paper - and that is before you have started the day or looked at the Internet. By juxtaposing images together you encourage the viewer to make links and connections in their own mind. This happens in moving images (from scene to scene), gallery walls (the way you walk from picture to picture/room to room) and photo books from (page to page) - we view these images in a sequence.
However, with a merged image we see it within one image - a build up of several images, juxtaposed, in one frame.