English photographer Eadweard Muybridge became a pioneer of capturing movement when he took position on a popularly-debated question of the day: his photographic sequences proved that all four feet of a horse were inexplicably off the ground at the same time while trotting. Late Dutch artist Peter Jansen took on a similar study when he began his series of dynamic sculptures titled “Human Motions”. The project observes the dynamism of the human figure in motion and the visual magic that occurs when we slow things down, frame by frame.
Viewing Jansen’s work through a computer screen is deceptive, as his work looks more like a scene out of The Matrix set to “pause”- sculpted out of materials like bronze, chrome, and the metal-looking alumide, his art work is in fact, entirely real created using Materialise.MGX, a method employing 3D printing and rapid manufacturing techniques such as stereo-lithography. Soccer players, runners, and the classical nude, a nod to Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.”, are portrayed in trailing sequences of movement expressed in a single sculptural image.
At his website, Jansen explains that his work is based on his ideas about transposition and movement, using the shapes of the human body to create energetic spaces. “I was curious how the total shape of a human in motion in time would be,” he explains, adding that while stunning, the results can also be a bit absurd- “What I found out and didn’t realize in the beginning, is not all movements in real life are beautiful to look at, or produce sculptures that are nice to look at.” Even after his passing in 2011, Jansen’s use of interesting poses continues to redefine our perceptions of time and space as we share in his fascination.