DEFINITION AND DEVELOPMENT OF ROBOGRAPHY
An Interview of Mark Lindquist by Meta Naratuh ( in 2008)
(This article incorporates several of Lindquist's writings on the subject of robography)
 

Meta:  Mr. Lindquist, I'm pleased to be discussing robography with you.  I hope to be able to uncover the definitions and your involvements with robography.

Lindquist:  Yes, of course.  I'm pleased to have this opportunity to discuss robography as it is something I have been involved with from an early age working with my father, Melvin Lindquist who was a quality control engineer for General Electric in Schenectady, NY in the 1950's.

Meta:  Oh?  Was it your father who first began robography?

Lindquist:  Oh, not really, it's just that he introduced me to certain principles that lead me to thinking about robography.  For instance, once while down in the basement shop in Schenctady, NY, I was playing around with a DC voltmeter, you know, one of those old panel mount types with the 1/4 x 20 threaded nuts on the back, the heavy duty kind...

Meta:  Oh yes, of course, the black bakelite  type?

Lindquist:  Yes, the very one.  As I was saying, I had the meter in my hands as a young boy and I hooked it up to an AC lead with alligator clips that Mel used to test things.  To my surprise, the meter instantly pegged past 12 Volts and it shocked me but good.

Meta:  Oh dear!

Lindquist:  Ah, yes.... one of those childhood memories that becomes emblazoned in the brain... At any rate, while I threw the meter on the floor it kind of danced around and skidded during the time I was recovering from the shock.  At that moment I heard my father simultaneously shouting and laughing, telling me to let go and scolding me for playing with his electrical test lead.  This was an early very enlightening experience, particularly as the process burned my hands black, and created quite a weird, random pattern on the shop floor. mostly because I managed to kick the meter while I was suffering the affects of the current coursing it's way through my body.  There on the floor was an odd, skiddish, pattern created by presumably carbon residue from sparks, scrapes of bakelite, and scars from the brass posts behind the meter face.  Maybe it was during a state of shock I saw the design as heightened, but it was like a flash that stayed with me for years.  Ironically, on the workbench where my dad was working he had some papers, an article I think, about hysterisis, the magnetic properties that accompany motors.

Meta:  "Oooooh, what a hair raising experience for you".  I get what you're saying about the markings on the floor of the shop being graphical in nature, but I dodn't understand how this equates to the "robo" in robograph..."

Lindquist:  "oh, well, actually the robo refers back to that involuntary action, the spasms that occurred that mimicked robotic movement.  It was as if my body had been taken over by a separate force (which in fact, to some extent, it had, considering the electrical current over-riding the electrical impulse of brain/muscle activity.  It's important to remember that the 1950's was all about space and robots and the idea of "the new" (modernism...).  We had toys, cars, all kinds of things that were remote controlled.  I had cars that had wires hooked up to funny little boxes controlling movements.  There was no wireless control, even remote that I had access to, but unquestionably it was something my father was working with at GE. The spasmodic jerking reminded me of the herky-jerky action of robots I had seen on TV.  I was always interested in robots... as a boy I made Halloween robot costumes, went around the neighborhood scaring kids - the stuff good American boys did back then.

Meta:  "hmmmm, I see."  "So you're saying that the origins of robography date back to that time when you were shocked by electricity, inadvertently made a scratched etching on the shop floor through an autonomic response?"

Lindquist:  "Oh, not exactly."  "What robography really is, I couldn't say."  "What robography really is to me, personally, that I can say..."

Meta:  "So there is no actual definition?"

Lindquist:  "Formally, not that I'm aware of."  ""I've been working on a definition that applies to my artwork, but it is a personal usage of the word, the way I appropriated the word "Stratigraph" for some earlier works I did using a chainsaw to make drawings on wood panels."

Meta:  "Interesting, can you elaborate?"

Lindquist:  "Uh, yes, I can try to explain, I'm still working on more formal definitions."  "Here's what I have so far:"

"     In my world view, a robograph is:"

An image created by any means of image recording technology, i.e. traditional photography, or digital imaging, or engraving (graphical rerecording) done (largely) by remote control, i.e., through the use of a sequence initiating device, such as a button, relay, integrated circuit, wireless transfer switching mechanisms, including all historical photographic exposure systems, with the intent of capturing (crafting or creating) an image for purposes of artistic, documentary or scientific means or expression, and created for the purposes of capturing or documenting motion of:

  1. A moving object (object in motion)
  2. The motion of the recording device itself
  3. A combination of the recording device and the object in motion.

The image may exist in or on any medium (film, transparency, paper or related media such as canvas, linen, parchment, wood, clay, etc.etc.,) or as a digital file.

The method of capture implies that motion (impulsion) is inherent in the process through:

RECORDING DEVICE

  1. Initial positioning of the recording device
  2. Pre-prescribed path of the recording device
  3. Co-incidental result of motion inherent in process (i.e. accidental or free-style movement of recording device created purposely as part of the process or resulting as serendipitous to the process ( for example a random motion creates a unique capturing)
  4. Duplicative or repetitive means (CNC , remote control within specified tolerance paths)
  5. Non- duplicative means through remote control but along similar prescribed paths
  6. Motion pathway of recording device is referred to as linear or circulinear or combining elements of the two throughout the duration of the recording process (act).

OBJECT (SUBJECT / OBJECT)

  1. Subject is in motion
  2. Subject is not in motion
  3. Subject is in or out of motion throughout the duration of the recording.
  4. Subject is in view or not in view throught the duration of recording (ie, the subject enters into part of the phase and exits at another part of the phase, repeats, or completes).

Meta:  "Oh dear, this is becoming technical, isn't it?"

Lindquist:  "Absolutely."  "This is precisely my point, that robographs are technical, and they result from a synthesis of man and machine."  "It's very simple really, but it's easy to become bogged down in jargon or nomenclature, particularly when entering a technical realm such as photography"

"Here is more regarding the actual processes I'm thinking about and experimenting with:"

MOTION OF BOTH RECORDING DEVICE AND SUBJECT

  1. Combining the aspects of motion of the recording device and the aspects of motion of the subject or object.

Method of capture implies remote or robotic control.

Remote, meaning that the recording device is held by mechanical or non-mechanical means:

  1. Device is clamped or fastened in some manner that implies control (i.e., a camera is clamped to tripod or external holding/fastening device enabling stability throughout movement, via a tripod, ball head accessory, etc.), or a router, lazer, etc., (any graphical recording device ) , is held in a position connoting control.

  2. Device is hand held using control techniques designed to promote stability and control, such as bracing, or "locking in" techniques employed by craftsmen, for the purpose of achieving specific level of quality in process (i.e., using a chainsaw as a stylus in order to create drawings or carvings on wood), or using an engraving tool in order to mark a signature, etc., using a "free-hand" technique. A highly advanced technique employing movement of a tool along a practiced and/or mastered path to achieve high-level results. Any precision motion mimicking the prescribed path of making or recording of an automated process recording or making device by a human using a jig or free hand to produce sophisticated end product.

  3. Device is actual end-effector on remote or robotic device (Robot). Robot employs recording device to create "robograph". (Robotically controlled camera creates motion image (video, digital file, etc.), and the resulting image is printed using a computer, controlling a printer (CNC output device). (In robotics, an end effector is a device or tool connected to the end of a robot arm. The structure of an end effector, and the nature of the programming and hardware that drives it, depends on the intended task.)

Production robots mimicked human work/object scenarios to achieve repetitive process and quality control. Similarly, now, humans mimic robots in repetitive process and quality control.

Repetitive process in the manufacture of art and/or craft mimics robotics in 20th, and 21st Century making endeavor.

RECORDING DEVICE | RECORDING METHOD | RECORDING MEDIUM
OUTPUT MEDIUM | OUTPUT METHOD | OUTPUT DEVICE

REPETITIVE MOTION: (of Recording Device) (see replication) (see reiteration)

Images captured through repetitive / duplicative process

Images captured through repetitive / non-duplicative process

Images captured through a duplicative process involving exact replication under precision computer numeric control through programmed execution. (Programmed Capture using Robotic Arm)

Images captured through a non-duplicative process involving sequential capturing under precision remote, non-programmed process involving jigs, or highly developed bracing techniques to assist in precision capture.

Meta:  "Most interesting, Mr. Lindquist."  "I am am curious how you define your terms, how you come to understand these aspects of robotics."  "How is it that you know about such things, mainly being an artist?"

Lindquist:  "As discussed, my father was an engineer and worked for General Electric Co., in Schenectady, NY.  He taught me very early about making things and we made many things together.  One project was a Soap Box Derby Racer, and I learned a lot from that."

Lindquist:  "When I was young I worked on go-karts and mini-bikes (basically motor driven carts which were of interest to many kids during the 1950's - 1960's."



Lindquist:  "Our next door neighbor, Hugh Rosa, was a physicist who also worked for GE.  He was a farm boy, actually, who had gone on to become an engineer for GE too, but he always preferred just hanging out, working on motor type stuff.  He'd come home from work and get his jeans and T-shirt and come over to work on the go-karts and mini-bikes with Mel and me.  Hugh was a great mechanic and it was always a job for me to keep up with him.  He smoked a pipe and had a great sense of humor and was a relaxed pleasant guy.  We worked on many projects together and began designing a custom harness type of helicopter.  When Mel found out about it he wasn't happy.  When I dug out his old aeronautical engineering books and started designing propeller blades he shut us down.  Said he just new I was going to kill myself.  After that Hugh just kept things kindof low key, so I guess something must have happened between them.  I kept on making mini-bikes and kept getting into trouble with the local police for riding them on the streets of Niskayuna.



Meta:  "Wow, so you had an interesting upbringing!"

Lindquist:  "Oh yes, definitely.  It was a special time growing up in Niskayuna, learning from guys who had worked on farms with lots of equipment who had both gone on to get degrees."

Meta:  "Were you thinking about going to college to become an engineer too?"

Lindquist:  "Ah, not so much."  "I wasn't good at math and I didn't like the math they were both pushing so I shied away from that stuff.  Go-kart technology was really my speed, I was happy to just work on that level.  I got a lot done with just a few principles and learned to push what I knew well."

Meta:  "No doubt."  "Have you gone on, ever, to learn engineering?"

Lindquist:  "Nope.  Never did, except what I have taught myself in order to continue making things and experimenting."  I needed to consolidate several controllers in order to be able to work more efficiently and taught myself a level of electronics that allowed me to accomplish my goals, but I never took it beyond that."  I am more aligned with the inventor, the experimenter, the hobbyist, or perhaps what you might call a gadgeteer."  "I like that - the idea of playing with things, keeping a playful spirit, playing games with the tools and the materials and the ideas.  I've used "go-kart technology" (What I refer to my brand of gadgeteering) to make some interesting robotic tools for my work in wood sculpture, and of course, those aspects have crept over into robotics with photography.  This is a robotic setup I've used for many years incorporating hand / remote control of tools and equipment/process:

Meta:  "So have you ever come up with a specific definition of robography?"

Lindquist:  "Why yes, actually:"

ROBOGRAPHY

The creation of (analog/digital) Images, in or on (varietal) media, with/by recording device(s), by robotic means, (including remote, end-effector, jig-held, or technically evolved hand-held means).

The recording, and/or display of image information (light, hysteresis, etc. through analog or digital devices/means).

Meta:  "There...OK, now that we have that cleared up, I see now, what you mean."

Lindquist:  "Yes, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Meta:  "So have you documented how you came about doing robography?"

Lindquist:  "I wrote an essay on the history of the development in a personal sense: 
LINK TO ESSAY  but beyond that, I have been developing a website dealing with aspects of my robographs."

Meta:  "In further exploring robotics and the applications to your photography, could you explain more?"

Lindquist.  "Sure."  "To begin with, it's important to define terms."

TERMS:

A roboticist, is someone who designs, builds, programs, and experiments with robots.

Roboticists develop mechanical devices that can move by themselves, whose motion is modeled, planned, sensed, actuated and controlled, and whose motion behavior can be influenced by the programmed task as well as by the environment in which the robot device operates. Robots are called "intelligent" if they succeed in moving in safe interaction with an unstructured environment, while autonomously achieving their specified tasks.

SEE:  The Robotics WEBook
An online textbook about robots and other mechatronic systems
(http://www.roble.info/robotics/robotics/)

Types of robots:  Intelligent Vs. Dumb
Intelligent robots use closed loop computerized control, dumb robots do not.  (Dumb robots are controlled through remote or human assist means).

ROBOT-ASSIST : ([neologism-ML], employs robotic means in the accomplishment of tasks)

Dumb Robot: ("Human-Machine Interfaces") a mechanical system that includes human involvement within the loop, i.e., a remote controlled robot used for specific tasks, repetitive or precision in nature, to assist in the completion of tasks. Conversely; human activity that includes mechanical means or devices within the performance of activity.

According to this definition of (dumb robot) both a car and driver are part of a dumb-robotic system. The car would be a dumb-robot being controlled by human involvement, and/or the human would be a dumb-robot, employing the mechanical device (car) in order to perform a task (driving). In this sense, the robot (car) aids in the completion or a repetitive task (moving objects) in a precise manner (speed, safety, comfort) in a symbiotic relationship. The car does not drive itself (yet), and the human is not able to move through time and space precisely, (yet), without the aid of the vehicle.

Thus in photography, the camera accomplishes specific tasks through electromechanical means: It internally actuates a shutter mechanism either (externally) through pushing a shutter button that actuates the shutter for exposure, and it may accomplish the task of capturing an image with human involvement in the loop, or remotely, programmed or unprogrammed, tethered to a computer or intervalometer to accomplish the exposure. If the camera is actuated, tethered to a computer, programmed to execute specific repetitive tasks (i.e. make a certain number of shutter actuations in a certain sequence for a certain amount of time, etc.,) and is controlled by the program of the computer, the process would be robotic, in that the execution of the task was automated, carried out with a degree of "native intelligence", where after programming, human involvement was no longer required. When a human (dumb-robot) actuates exposure through the means of a remote control, (wired, or wireless), the process becomes innately "dumb-robtical" in that the human/machine symbiosis exists. The camera is a dumb-robot component, the operator is a dumb-robot component: together their relationship is "dumb-robotical", or bio-robotical (to imply biological/mechanical mechanism [HMI]), or robomimical (mimicking a purely autonomous robotical activity) at the very least human and machine become counterparts. Robomimical behavior is most apparent in repetitive task human involvement, whereby activity becomes 1) learned, 2) practiced, 3) skilled 4) mastered 5) transcendent. In transaction of mundane tasks, such as manufacturing, robotic systems excel. In certain aspects of manufacturing, humans excel, where robots fail. In art, the missing component of roboticism is nuance, or original expression. A musician may perform and the performance may be recorded and played back exactly, but rarely, if ever, can the human perform the same piece again, exactly as before, and rarely, if ever, can the recorder (robotic device) come up with an equivalent masterpiece of original expression, similar to what the maestro could do.

Some terms that apply to the idea of robography:

AUTOMATION: meaning "self dictated" (from the ancient Greek) - the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system, operate automatically (using electro/mechanical devices obfuscating human control.

AUTONOMATION:
(Jidoka) ("automation with a human touch" ) Jidoka, means, in the production context, not allowing defective parts to go from one work station to the next. It specifically refers to machines or the production line itself being able to stop automatically in abnormal conditions (for example, when a machine breaks down or when defective parts are produced). This Autonomation (as it is also called) allows machines to run autonomously, as they will stop when a problem occurs. Ultimately, it is about transferring human (or better) intelligence to machines.

Jidoka is also used when individual people encounter a problem at their work station. They are responsible for correcting the problem - if they cannot, they should stop the line rather than let the defective part do.

The principle was first used by Sakichi Toyoda at the beginning of the 20th century when he invented a loom which stopped when the thread broke.

( http://syque.com/improvement/Jidoka.htm )

ANIMATION is the rapid display of a sequence of images of 2-D artwork or model positions in order to create an illusion of movement.

INSTRUMENTATION: use of instruments (devices) for observation, measurement, or control.

(see http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/instrumentation)

ACTUATION (implies) human action or human activity > to put into mechanical action or motion - to move to action (see http://www.wordreference.com/definition/actuation), (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=actuation)

REPLICATION: (see Merriam Webster 4: "performance of an experiment or procedure more than once")

SIMULATION: (see Merriam Webster 3a: "the imitative representation of the functioning of one system or process by means of the functioning of another <a computer simulation of an industrial process> b : examination of a problem often not subject to direct experimentation by means of a simulating device) (see mimicry)"

MIMICRY: (see Merriam Webster 1a, and 2:

1 a : an instance of mimicking b : the action, practice, or art of mimicking

2 : a superficial resemblance of one organism to another or to natural objects among which it lives that secures it a selective advantage (as protection from predation)

ROBOMIMICAL *: Concomitant* Human/Machine involvement combined in a symbiotic relationship of simulation/replication, where the human employs mastery of movement techniques in order to accomplish transcendent goals in making art / objects, etc., while using an electromechanical device to achieve those ends. *(This is a neologism created by Lindquist).

*See: Webster's: 2. concomitant

Function: noun

: something that accompanies or is collaterally connected with something else : ACCOMPANIMENT

(Note: in the traditional sense of "instrumentation" (using an instrument to perform artistic acts), i.e., a figure skater cannot accomplish the feats of skating art/craft without the use of skates or blades.

The figure skater might be a glorified dancer, gymnast, etc., were it not for the device (skates) but without the "gadget" simply could not achieve glorious heights of a variety of spins that result from the physics unleashed through the process of applied motion within that specialized process. An electric guitarist cannot accomplish feedback or other process specific effects with an electric guitar without the use of an amp and other electronic accessories. I contend that in the modern world any and all human/electromechanical counterpart / complementary involvement is Robomimical, given numerous electro magnetic forces (EMF) that enter in that effect outcome. As we use devices powered by electromagnetic energy (EMF's) we enter into a specialized state of being that is distinctly different from a lesser charged simpler use of "tool". Being plugged in, we partake of the realm of metaphysics, the realm of the mysterious that we mostly don't understand, yet employ to our benefit.

We think of a car as just a car, yet it is a most sophisticated machine that moves elegantly with us and we with it, as we are in tandem; we are as though schools of fish or flocks of birds (see swarms, Synchronization, flocking process, Tamas Vicsec (http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/1998/A/199800332.html ), Navier-Stokes equation, the basic equation that describes fluid motion.
The movements in natural phenomenon inevitably become the model for motion study and robotic process. Nature is our teacher, we can only imitate and learn from it.

THE PHYSICS OF FLOCKING. "...Studying one of the more remarkable examples of collective behavior, scientists at IBM and the University of Oregon have developed a physics- based theory of how a group of birds manages to move together as a single unit, even if the individual birds make frequent misjudgments and can only see an extremely small fraction of the other birds in the flock. In their model, the researchers capitalized on similarities between certain features of flock motion and several phenomena in physics. Like a group of tiny bar magnets, the birds in the flocking model line themselves up in the same direction by interacting with their closest neighbors. Like dust particles in a fluid, nearby birds may soon find themselves far apart. Like parcels of hot material spreading their heat through the process of convection, birds spread information about the direction which they are moving by circulating themselves through the flock. By incorporating the well-developed mathematical descriptions of these processes in the model, and plugging in typical values of such parameters as how fast real flocks move in the air, Tu and Toner came up with realistic predictions of such things as how densely the birds are packed together in certain situations and how this density fluctuates. (John Toner and Yuhai Tu, Physical Review E, October 1998; more at www.aip.org/physnews/preview) (http://www.physicist.org/pnu/1998/split/pnu395-2.htm)

SEE ALSO: IGERT 499 Study Group

Swarming, Flocking, and Applications to Multi-Robot Systems

(http://lims.mech.northwestern.edu/~lynch/IGERT499/ )

Electromagnetic Field: is a physical field that is produced by electrically charged objects and which affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction, one of the four fundamental forces of nature. The field can be viewed as the combination of an electric field and a magnetic field. The electric field is produced by stationary charges, and the magnetic field by moving charges (currents); these two are often described as the sources of the field. The way in which charges and currents interact with the electromagnetic field is described by Maxwell's equations and the Lorentz Force Law.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field)

Electromotive Force: (emf) is the amount of energy gained per unit charge that passes through a device in the opposite direction to the electric field existing across that device. It is measured in volts. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromotive_force)

HYSTERISIS: The lagging of an effect behind its cause, as when the change in magnetism of a body lags behind changes in the magnetic field.

also:

"...The lag between making a change, such as increasing or decreasing power, and the response or effect of that change. It typically refers to turn-on and turn-off points in electrical, electronic and mechanical systems. For example, if a thermostat set for 70 degrees turns on when the temperature reaches 68 and turns off at 72, the hysteresis is the range from 68 to 72..."

(http://www.answers.com/topic/hysteresis)

From wikpedia: "...Hysteresis phenomena occur in magnetic and ferromagnetic materials, as well as in the elastic and electromagnetic behavior of materials, in which a lag occurs between the application and the removal of a force or field and its subsequent effect. Electric hysteresis occurs when applying a varying electric field, and elastic hysteresis occurs in response to a varying force. The term "hysteresis" is sometimes used in other fields, such as economics or biology. In such cases it describes a memory or lagging effect in which the order of previous events can influence the order of subsequent events...."

CYBORG: see (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg)

According to some definitions of the term, the metaphysical and physical attachments humanity has with even the most basic technologies have already made us cyborgs.[4] In a typical example, a human fitted with a heart pacemaker or an insulin pump (if the person has diabetes) might be considered a cyborg, since these mechanical parts enhance the body's "natural" mechanisms through synthetic feedback mechanisms. Some theorists cite such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses as examples of fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities; however, these modifications are no more cybernetic than would be a pen, a wooden leg, or the spears used by chimps to hunt vertebrates.[5] Cochlear implants that combine mechanical modification with any kind of feedback response are more accurately cyborg enhancements.

The prefix "cyber" is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology. Pen and paper, for example, as well as speech, language. Augmented with these technologies, and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before. This is like computers, which gain power by using Internet protocols to connect with other computers. Cybernetic technologies include highways, pipes, electrical wiring, buildings, electrical plants, libraries, and other infrastructure that we hardly notice, but which are critical parts of the cybernetics that we work within.

PANNING: Panning refers to the horizontal movement or rotation of a film or video camera, or the scanning of a subject horizontally on video or a display device.

In photography, the panning technique is used to suggest fast motion, and bring out foreground from background. In photographic pictures it is usually noted by a foreground subject in action appearing still (i.e. a runner frozen in mid-stride) while the background is streaked and/or skewed in the apparently opposite direction of the subject's travel. (http://www.answers.com/topic/panning-camera)


Meta:  "OK, a lot of material to wade through, and a lot to digest."  "Can you summarize how all of this applies to photography, or at least what you call "robography?" 

Lindquist:  "Of course."  "I think of the process as "breaking through to the other side:"

BREAKING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE

In efforts to gain control over the process of my work, attempting to understand the nature of my Robography, as I understand it, I am looking for pathways of expression that are uniquely my own yet are informed by traditional photographic techniques and historical approaches. While working in the field of woodturning, when I applied robotic process to certain aspects of work holding and object making, I began to understand the concept of that which is seemingly unattainable; the glimpse of which is given that inspires confidence to continue what involves many "man-years" of pursuit. It occurs to me now, after over 35 years of making machines to create sculpture or sculptures themselves, that the idea exists "over there". Now, when shooting with a camera, creating a Robograph (Robograf, Robograv), the conditions must be exactly right. The light must be perfect, the camera must be perfect, the setup must be perfect, the mood must be perfect, the approach must be relaxed, while ultimately done with fervor. The light goes away. The time to set up marches on inconsolably, the process involves setbacks. Hopefully there is another late afternoon light, but it is not always the case. The balance between work and play is critical. The approach is that of the scientist, the experimenter, but also the songwriter or poet. I have often thought about Chuck Yeager and the team that set about to break the sound barrier. Each time they approached the sound barrier the plane shook violently almost to the point of breaking apart. Finally, Yeager broke through, to the other side and things smoothed out. Then each time, going to break the barrier anew, the same thing happened: like that, with a bang, they were on the other side. So I think about my Robographical process, similarly: it requires the effort to get there, then to break on through to the other side. If it doesn't get to the other side, (where the critical elements are either not in concert, or some of the critical elements are missing from the process, then the result is less than stellar. I would call it a kind of mediocrity at its more elevated level. When the image comes back from the other side it is a new creation of what does not exist in our world as we know it. Shapes shift, colors meld, and form and line bend and warp in other world timeliness. If not in that other realm, objects are still, but tentatively recognizable and it spoils the illusion. Knowing what the object is (or was) is not what the newly recreated image from the other side is about. To know what the image came from is doom - it crashes violently back to our world of reality when it was originally headed for the dream world. Sometimes it requires Herculean effort to push through to capture that most fleeting of images, the right one may be just the only one out of gigabytes and gigabytes of attempts over days, weeks, months of tries. But sometimes, once broken through, there is beautifully smooth sailing and every image is amazingly, hauntingly perfect presenting an even greater challenge to edit down, edit down, to distill. There are easy ways to capture abstract images through night photography of neon lights or car lights moving down the road. This is a known, almost automatic technique that results in a glowing process on a black background. I am interested in pushing, moving, shaping light in any time, through control. An assistant, John McFadden, who previously assisted a professional advertising photographer, shooting outboard motors and boats for a major manufacturer, encouraged me to work toward control of the process I deemed always serendipity. In each aspect of shooting, it was dogged determination and stubbornness that got me the shot I was after - that elusive prize on the other side. Gradually, pushing to learn more and more about technical aspects of capturing and processing, using specialized tools and techniques, things begin to come together more in a controlled environment where light begins to move for me they way I am accustomed to moving wood or paint, or steel. So much of photography is about revealing the unknown. We can see the eye of the eagle that is so high above using a 600 mm lens. But I can see the image in my dreams (mind's eye) using the robomimical process and devices. Applying the studied and careful practice of the potter, methodically wading through mounds of clay, at the end of the day I have many images to be "trimmed and glazed". After firing, only a few will remain, however.

Meta:  "Would you have any examples of what you call "breaking through to the other side, and what would NOT be breaking through?"

Lindquist: "Yes, actually, in particular, a sequence that I shot to incorporate both aspects of technique is a coin series I did."

BREAKING THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE SEQUENCE

Standard product photography of silver coin:


Walking Liberty, Mark Lindquist, 2005, photograph - copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved

(Below) A ROBOMIMICAL panning shot using a robotically assisted device for special effect:

Moving Money, Mark Lindquist, 2005, Digital Image
copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved



A ROBOGRAPH (below) of the above sequenced shot, where the object is no longer discernable:

Rising Blue Sphere, Mark Lindquist, 2005, Robograph 
copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved



In the "Rising Blue Sphere" robograph, the identity of the coin is masked by the process.  The "digital darkroom" processing enabled color management, reorientation of the image (landscape to portrait) and contrast adjustment.  (Color temperature adjustment in RAW image).
Other than simple Photoshop workflow processing, the recording (capturing) of the Robograph occurred through specific technique using ROBOMIMICAL  process.

Chart illustrating distinctions between image types:

copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved

Meta:  "OK, but I know about panning, moving the camera, following an object, but I still don't understand how you got the coin to move, particularly in that straight path."

Lindquist:  "In all the shots, the coin is motionless."  Only the camera moved, and in moving, pulled or pushed the light along through the lag.  That's where HYSTERISIS comes into play.  It's complicated physics that I don't have the ability to explain - I just use the phenomenon to create the technique to make robographs.

Meta:  "Great - that's very clear, mostly, but I'm not sure how editing comes into play, exactly."  "Do you mean the editing is minimal, or confined to minimal processing, or do you actually generate the images in photoshop?"

Lindquist:  "Oh definitely the images are NOT generated in Photoshop, they are generated in-camera and ONLY processed minimally in Photoshop for the standard concerns of cropping, levels, color temp, contrast, sharpening, etc., all things digital imagers do to enhance in-camera digital images to maximize effectiveness.  RAW digital images are processed through software the way film was processed in a photo lab (and still is).  Photoshop is considered the consummate "Digital Darkroom" and is the tool of choice for most photographers today."  I use Nikon's proprietary software, additionally, toggling back and forth between the two.

Lindquist:  "An example of image manipulation in it's strict sense in Photoshop is below - a composite image created by layering photographs in one image to create a composition:"


Shadow Facts, Mark Lindquist, 2005, Digital Photo Collage  | 
copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved

Meta:  "Yes, I understand about the collage, but can you actually MAKE a robograph in Photoshop?"

Lindquist:  "Well, of course images that "LOOK" like Robographs can be made in Photoshop, but then they wouldn't be robographs as I have defined them."  "This aspect of what a robograph is, is still being processed.  To what degree the term is all-inclusive or exclusive has not been decided so far.  In this sense it's currently a conundrum.  I understand that the term is being used for scientific purposes marginally within the scientific community to some extent, but being as yet formalized I prefer to limit my definitions specifically as it applies to the body of work I am producing.  Just as I have the Stratigraphs and De-compositions, I have the Robographs which are currently robographicological in a narrow epistemological sense.  This means the term is strictly self-centric in my current view, and will likely be for me as it references specific art works produced by me.

Meta:  "Does this mean others should not use the term Robograph?"

Lindquist:  "I'm a live and let-live kindof guy.  Just as I have loosely appropriated the word, and use it in this context as a reference for a specific body of work I am producing, I make up words around the root of the word, playing with ideas, actually creating neologs (neologisms) that refer to the concepts and ideas I espouse as an artist/ photographer. "  "If others choose to use the term Robograph to label their photographs then they will have history to contend with, since I am the first to use this term (as far as I know) in the context of this type of photography."

Meta:  "Aren't you worried about that?"

Lindquist:  "What, me worry?"  "Hamada, the great Japanese potter said something like: "... what they do that is good will be attributed to me, what I do that is bad will be attributed to them..."

Meta:  "hmmmm... a most egotistical statement."

Lindquist:  "Agreed - it takes a lot of guts to say something like that.  I wouldn't ever say it, but I would quote it..."

Lindquist:  "Here's an example of how a normal photograph can be manipulated in Photoshop using motion blur filters, etc., to create the look of a panned photo verging on the look and feel of a Robograph.  This photo emulates that kind of work, but was not created in-camera, as my current definitions require:"

Motorcycle Rider, Mark Lindquist, 2006, PS Manipulated Digital Image  |  
copyright Lindquist Studios 2005  |  All Rights Reserved

Meta:  "If this look and feel can be created in Photoshop, why then, wouldn't you just do that?"

Lindquist:  "Actually, the look only almost gets there.  While many effects approach the qualities of Robographs, they're not specifically as "clean" as those images created in-camera.  Additionally, it's not even close to being in the same ballpark, technically.  Consider that a board can be hand-planed with a Japanese plane that has been tuned by hand, or the same board can be run through an electric planer to be smoothed.  There is a very specific difference in process, and many believe in product, ultimately, considering the aspects of craftsmanship.  In this regard, I would refer to the ideas David Pye wrote about concerning "craftsmanship of risk vs. craftsmanship of certainty" and that kind of thinking regarding making."

Lindquist:  "Anyone can send a board through a planer, but not just anyone can achieve the results of hand-planing a board perfectly, which takes years and years of practice to master.  Many would argue that the wood reacts in completely different ways to the hand treatment opposed to the automated machining.   So it is in making Robographs, it takes years and years to master the art and craft of it."  "One must first be a traditional photographer with a level of mastery that can then be "toyed" with in order to experiment.  Without the foundation of good photo technique, the opportunities are vastly limited when it comes down to consistency.  Since the process very much involves serendipity which is at the heart of Robography anyway, beginner's luck can always occur. Paradoxically, in a strictly Zen sense of thinking or making, if one can cultivate the "beginner's mind" one can be further ahead in creating Robographs, I suppose..."

Meta:  Most illuminating.

 


 

   |   Home  |  Photo Essay  | Pictorial Biography  |  Definition of Terms  Robograph Glossary  |  Gallery