Whale Hunt: a photographic heartbeat timeline

Whale Hunt: a photographic heartbeat timeline

Although everybody seems to be raving about video on Flickr, I just like to bring something totally different – yet photo-related – subject under your attention. It’s a really interesting photo project by Jonathan Harris called The Whale Hunt. For some of you, this might be old news as it’s published six months ago, but I don’t want to risk that other people miss this incredible photo series. Moreover, I think that some media art doesn’t hurt this blog. After all, our main purpose is to inspire you.

Eleven months ago, Harris traveled to the Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow, Alaska, to see how they hunt on whales. Before you ask, his project is not a political statement whatsoever, he just wanted to cover a ritual that has been going on for ages.

His photos series of the whale hunt is quite special, since it’s a new way of human storytelling:

The photographs are presented in a framework that tells the moment-to-moment story of the whale hunt. The full sequence of images is represented as a medical heartbeat graph along the bottom edge of the screen, its magnitude at each point indicating the photographic frequency (and thus the level of excitement) at that moment in time. A series of filters can be used to restrict this heartbeat timeline, isolating the many sub stories occurring within the larger narrative (the story of blood, the story of the captain, the story of the arctic ocean, etc.).

He collected the photos by making one pic every five minutes, even when he was asleep. The result looks something like this:

Whale Hunt

I think Harris discovered a new interesting way of telling a story. Imagine how this would look like when you cover a soccer match. You can tell by the heartbeat when the match turns interesting. Or a political debate. I hope to see some examples of that. Or do you know one already?

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