“Choros” is a beautiful experimental film by Michael Langan and dancer Terah Maher. It features a single dancer layered 32 times, which each layer slightly offset in time from the previous one. The “visual echo” technique turns a single woman into a “chorus of women,” and transform the dance from single movements into waves of motion. The 13-minute video is set to the songMusic for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich.
Langan is building on the work of famous pioneers in the history of photography, including Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Mare. The technique is a variation of what’s known aschronophotography, which captures movement in numerous frames.
In the late nineteenth century, a photographic technique called “chronophotography” began to develop, whereby multiple photographs would be taken in rapid succession to study the movement of a given subject. Eadweard Muybridge famously filmed a horse in motion in 1878, providing the world with its first taste of motion pictures when the images were displayed on a spinning zoetrope.You can learn more about this film on its dedicated webpage.
Several years later, the French physicist Etienne-Jules Marey developed a stunning variation of this technique when he captured multiple poses of a subject over time onto a single frame of film, rendering a kind of visual echo. The nature of this process limited the subject matter to that which could be photographed in a black studio using stark lighting, to prevent overexposure of the background when multiple images are layered over one another.
[...] “Choros” revisits these technical innovations and attempts to contribute original innovations of its own. Using recent advancements in digital compositing, the technique developed for “Choros” introduces color, frees the film from the confines of a black studio, and allows the dancer to linger in one position without risk of overexposure, resulting in a variation of this historical technique that allows a degree of subtlety heretofore prohibited by technical limitations. [#]