E3.2: Gestures

Labour and the ‘process document’

In the early 1900s, as a response to ‘Taylorism’ and ‘scientific management’, photographers, Lillian and Frank Gilbreth invented a technique that they claimed could measure the
efficiency of a labourer, eradicating wasteful or unnecessary human movements within the factory and manifest this visually as an image. Using time-lapse photography they connected small lamps to the body parts of workers and measured each worker’s movements through the use of long exposure photography whilst they worked. These long exposures, with their illuminated lines tracing out gestures, were then compared to that of other workers in an attempt to identify what they called ‘paths of least waste’. The findings of this quasi-science were then presented to the factory owner, often in the form of a wire sculpture inspired by the photographs to indicate the ways in which the worker’s every move could be better controlled. In these photographs the human beings are literally erased and only the residue of their act of labour remains.

TASK: Choose a simple gesture that you or another subject can perform. For example, a hand movement, pose, or facial expression. Represent the same gesture through static and moving media: for example a photograph or drawing, and moving image or a short animation.
Compare the results. Are there different aspects of the gesture that you are able to capture in each of these media?
Write a short caption for each that tries to capture these differences. Upload them to your learning log.