Cinemagraphs Reveal Beauty In and Out of Focus

by Bruce Goldstone on April 21, 2014

A cinemagraph shows Central Park in focus through a pair of glasses, revealing the beauty of corrected and uncorrected vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

Is clarity always best?
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

Natural Vision vs. Corrected Vision

Autumn leaves flutter in and out of focus in a striking image from Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg’s series of optical animations.

The effect is enchanting. But my reaction to this poetic series is perhaps atypical.

Am I the only one who gazes at this work and sees a powerful argument for the beauty of both corrected and natural vision?

The Secret Life of Photos

Beck and Burg have captivated the web since they created a new style of animated photograph to capture the excitement of Fashion Week in New York city. They call their moving creations cinemagraphs.

A cinemagraph of Anna Wintour at a fashion show, illustrating the beauty of correct vision and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

Cinemagraphs can capture both rapid and subtle movements.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

The technique stitches together photos to create a simple but persuasive illusion of movement.

Each cinemagraph is a single compelling burst. Like the contrasting images in a fine haiku, stillness and motion battle for the viewer’s attention.

A cinemagraph of a taxi reflected in a cafe window, illustrating the beauty of corrected and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

The ghost of a taxi in a silent reflective loop.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

You can see many more examples of the impressive and flexible technique at the artists’ site, Ann Street Studio.

Sight and Insight

A pair of spiffy Giorgio Armani eyeglass frames inspired the team to create a series of cinemagraphs in and around New York City.

But what really speaks to me in these shots isn’t how perfectly they capture the hum and throb of city life.

Instead, I’m reminded of the emphatic reaction I had to my first pair of glasses, one of my earliest “Oh, I see” moments. Though, in this case, it was more of an “Oh, I won’t see” moment.

A cinemagraph of Times Square's flashing lights, illustrating the beauty of corrected and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

Times Square in and out of focus.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

I was about eleven when I got my first glasses. I hated them.

The aviator-style frames were fashionable enough for my fifth-grade aesthetic. But the glasses made me question the whole idea of corrective optometry. Sure, the world looked different. But is different always better?

I didn’t think so. I liked seeing the world my way, blurry though it was.

Each morning, I dutifully put my glasses on so my parents wouldn’t think they’d wasted their money.

A cinemagraph showing some reading The New York Times, illustrating the beauty of corrected and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

Sharpening a morning routing.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

Then at school, I’d stash them in my desk and the world would return to normal. My normal.

I was used to seeing the world in a lovely Impressionist haze, free of hard edges and crisp details. Doctors and teachers insisted that their world was a better place, but I wasn’t convinced.

I liked my world the way it was. As far as I was concerned, nothing about it needed correcting.

A cinemagraph of the New York Skyline, illustrating the beauty of corrected and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

There’s beauty in the blur.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

The magical melding of the lights on the Manhattan Bridge in this cinemagraph reminds me of how energetically I defended my right to see the world my way.

In Favor of Focus

My battle against glasses lasted the better part of a year.

Of course, eventually I gave in. There was no exact moment of defeat. It was more of a gradual acquiescence.

In the end, the benefits of seeing where you’re going became, well, apparent. And being able to read the chalkboard turned out to be helpful, too.

And by the time I got to driving, I was a firm convert to the 20/20 world.

A cinemagraph of Grand Central Station commuters, showing the beauty of corrected and natural vision. (Image © Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg)

Crisp and chaotic commuter commotion becomes an ice ballet when blurred.
© Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg

But once in a while, I still enjoy taking a vacation from focus. Without corrective lenses, the world returns to a softer, more comforting place.

Or at least that’s how it seems until I bump headfirst into something.

I’m grateful to Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg for this series of cinemagraphs, which depicts the eloquent balance between natural and corrected vision.

If you want to create your own cinemagraphs, check out this helpful tutorial.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

 
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