Time & Motion: Alex Gutzwiller

According to Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips, from their book entitled, Graphic Design: The New Basics time and motion are closely related “principals” of design. As Lupton and Phillips explain, motion represents a kind of change and change takes place in time. However, designers face a dilemma of how to portray time and motion. As stated on page 233, “Motion can be implied as well as literal . . . Artists have long sought ways to represent the passage of time within the realm of static, two-dimensional space”. To create movement through time on a non-moving, flat-surfaced medium, an artist can use several techniques – scaling, cropping, repetition, overlap, rotation or shaping, allowing an artist to imply movement by their own design or illustrate literal movement of the object, such as flying off the medium.

An example of the changes in motion through time can be found in the picture book by Maria Kalman called Looking at Lincoln. In this children’s book, Kalman chronicles Abraham Lincoln’s life from his birth, presidency, slavery, Civil War and assassination. On pages 2324, from this unnumbered book depicts the sad labors of the slaves. To create literal movement, Kalman’s illustration of the undeniable use of a whip towards slaves, creates the idea of motion due to the whip’s back and forth action. As seen here the whip has the height of an arch and the extension of the tip giving the feel of an object flying across the medium.  Several principles combined together develop the implied motion moving from left to right. The horseman is static and centered on the left edge or frame. As a result the viewer’s eye sees him as stationary, with the use of the whip moving the slaves forward to the right. Additionally, the foreman’s body appears somewhat larger in scale to the standing slaves as well as larger due to sitting on a horse. As a result this scale element gives the impression of moving forward to the right because the slaves are smaller than the foreman giving movement from high to low. The slaves are drawn in a diagonal shape within the cotton field. Lupton and Phillips explain that objects placed on a diagonal evoke motion. Also, the slaves are cropped in a pointed, triangular shape with only their upper bodies shown suggesting motion and rotation forcing the eye to see the slaves move across the field rather than pick cotton. Repetition of the slaves walking and following in straight lines also shows movement forward. Lastly, as the sun is beginning to set some rays overlap the leaders of the line to show movement and time, because those last in line will either reach the light of the setting sun or the darkening of day.

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