07 March, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye: Installing a Timeslice

Blogger: Beth Hughes, Exhibitions Assistant

Installing a new exhibition involves facing many challenges - it's not all just hanging pictures on a wall - and today we tackled quite a challenge. As part of our forthcoming exhibition, In the Blink of an Eye: Media and Movement, we will be displaying a Timeslice.


A Timeslice is a large ring with a series of cameras facing into the centre of the circle. When an object passes through the circle, all the cameras simultaneously take a picture. When shown in sequence it seems as if the camera can pan around and see every angle of whatever has passed through the Timeslice. The object is frozen in time and space. This technology is widely used in both television and film, most notably in the Matrix films.

The Timeslice can take hundreds of images capturing one moment in time. Unlike a normal camera, there aren't any lenses or shutters, just a single strip of film around the inside. When an object passes through the circle a flash goes off exposing the film through a series of tiny pinholes. This means that the images have to be taken in the dark to ensure no early exposure.


Although not too heavy, the Timeslice is a tricky item to handle. Standing at eight feet in diameter, it took five of our best employees to safely install and secure it.

The Timeslice on display was donated to the Museum by Tim Macmillan who pioneered the technology in the 1990s. This will be the first time we have displayed it in the Museum, but it had a starring role on an episode of Tomorrow's World in May 1993.


In the Blink of an Eye reveals our fascination with movement and our desire to capture it through photography, film, television and new media. The exhibition is on display in Galleries 1 and 2 from 9 March – 2 September 2012.


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