With his project Stereovision, photographer Chris O’Donovan offers something rather different. He has created a set of gifs, which brings a new perspective to 3D stereo photography.
Stereo photography – a form of stereoscopy – is a 3D perspective created by capturing a pair of 2D images, which together give a sense of suspended movement.
O’Donovan has exhumed old 3D cameras manufactured in the 1980s, which never saw their true potential realised, and liberated them with new techniques and innovative lighting.
Stereovision sees impossible psychedelic realities created with huge physical depth, giving an illusory perspective, which seems to reach around its subject.
These shots look spectacular on large digital screens, but paradoxically they have emerged from a studio where everything is stubbornly analogue – particularly the standard 35mm film and the elaborate costumes and props, created by O’Donovan, his muse, his assistants and a makeup artist.
O’Donovan says: “I’m fascinated by the strangeness made possible by these old cameras, a world where the image moves and the mind wonders.”
Back in 2012, O’Donovan chanced upon a Nishika N800, a boxy 1980s camera with three plastic lenses. Before long he acquired two more. Now his favourite is a four lens Nimslo.
The stereoscopic method was pioneered by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838, and it was later improved on by David Brewster who created the first portable 3D viewing device. French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) experimented with stereo photography. Its principles are the same as those employed in the eyepieces Victorians enjoyed looking through on seaside piers.
While stereoscopic images are called stereograms, the images produced on the Nishika and Nimslo are endearingly known as wiggle grams or wiggle gifs.
O’Donovan’s Nimslo uses four lenses, which imprint an image across half of a standard 35mm frame. When the second half of the frame is captured in the next photo, the template for the gif is complete.
For this project he has moved beyond the constraints of the camera; his wiggle gifs are brought to life by his imagination, experimentation and technical wizardry.