richard whitlock

 Photographs and films in orthogonal parallel projection

   moving pictures      artist's statement


Expanded view photography

We are so used to seeing the world through a lens - on TV, at the cinema, in photographs - that we have almost forgotten how to see it any other way. If we think of the perspective produced by a lens at all we think of it as something correct, somehow inevitable, not as one of many ways in which we could stage the things we see.

By taking many photographs, with the camera pointing not at a single object but at many different points in parallel, I found it possible to create an ‘expanded view’ photographic image. This positions the viewer, impossibly, in many places at once. The component parts of the picture fit together seamlessly, as though it were a single snapshot, to accentuate the interplay between the photographic medium and the non-photographic perspective. The resulting pictures show a reality that cannot be registered by a single lens, or, indeed, seen by the human eye. It was as though you are seeing through a single vast flat eye:                        


Other non-perspectival projections are possible. With a trimetric projection the angles formed by the sides of a single object (the marble slab in the following illustration) are applied to all the other objects in the space. This lifts the viewer up into the air, as in the computer game 'Sim City' or in a Chinese scroll painting:

Each system of perspective, or non-perspective, brings along with it its own way of viewing the world, its own philosophy. An orthogonal parallel projection creates a feeling of monumentality. Without the vanishing point everything begins to look more real, more present. The eye has a little extra work to do reconstructing the scene, but perhaps this is what makes everything so vibrant and new, as though you were seeing everything for the first time, as though you were looking at the raw material of reality rather than reality itself. I found that the composition came to hang more and more on colour, small colour adjustments creating continuity: the feeling that one object belongs next to the other in a convincing flow-of-things, like in a film.








What about films? To make a moving picture without perspective, in the parallel projection that we are interested in, would seem impossible, as video cameras use lenses and the elimination of perspective from each frame would be an enormous task. With certain limitations as to subject matter, however, and by using fixed camera positions I have made some close approximations to moving photographic images with no perspective, using video material taken from many vantage points. In The Street (2012), I filmed from positions high up on neigbouring buildings, as well as from ground level: 


Just as parallel projection causes space to be flattened into the picture plane, it also causes the collapse of time. The ‘huge eye’ of the spectator of parallel projection is still there but it is attracted to the various moving elements in the ‘scene’, one by one, or all together. It is as if the entire plot of the ‘movie’ were available to the eye simultaneously, allowing you to look at the various episodes of the story whenever you like, as in a medieval painting. You can skip the dull bits, and go to the end first if you like, as with a book. But there is no real beginning or end. The narrative takes place in the present continuous tense, with all the elements in the picture ‘doing their thing’ all at the same time. Just as in non-perspectival still images each object acquires a fullness of meaning and a richness of visual qualities, but this now includes qualities of time. The cars are moving, parking, moving off again. The woman is shaking out the carpet. The washing is moving in the breeze. And these are not just any cars, any woman, any washing. They are The woman, The cars – the particular ones that were there on that day – but they have also become generalised examples, paradigms of themselves.