Dividing Time: High Speed Compression of SingleCrystal Magnesium 

Accordion book in walnut case


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These images are the result of an experiment with a 36 microsecond duration. That is 0.000036 seconds. A average blink of the human eye lasts 350,000 microseconds.

 One of the most extreme aspects of HEMI’s research is the degree to which they break down time in their observations. When I learned they had a camera capable of recording 7-million frames a second I could not even fathom how to imagine that. As an artist, I am always working out analogies to relate complex information into creative and unusual forms, but that slicing of time is so far beyond our human experience, no analogy will make it easier to picture. Photographers are especially proud of their understanding of fractions of time, so I was especially distressed. I discussed this feeling with HEMI graduate student, Vignesh Kannan, and pitched the idea of turning one of his Magnesium compression tests into a very long accordion book. It transforms images that are typically only seen on a screen into a heroic form that, like the test, gets compressed into the fitted case. It is an exaggerated shrine to human imagination, the fact that we can still somehow learn from abstraction and observation many levels removed from our natural human senses and experiences. 

Fully extended, the 180 page book is 90' long

Laser etched interior

Original Compression Test, courtesy of Vignesh Kannan and Dr. KT Ramesh

View of book spread out

On display in custom vitrine.

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