Berkeley-based filmmaker Peter Chang likes breaking boundaries in his work, be it in space or time. His latest oeuvre, Deus Ex Homine, is a beautiful stereoscopic 3D motion-controlled time-lapse short film. In it, the camera sweeps around the Bay Area: taking in server farms in Silicon Valley, indoor gardens, Berkeley’s Gather Restaurant, and Oakland artist Jeremy Mayer at work building astonishingly lifelike robots out of old typewriter parts.
Chang, who majored in English at UC Berkeley and worked for many years as a photo-journalist, established his production company Cinefugue in San Francisco in 2006. He said it focuses on innovative uses of cutting-edge technology with themes related to humanity’s future and the young generation. A previous project, Lightscapes, a TV show for Discovery HD Theater, was the first television program to feature mostly time-lapse photography.
Chang says he likes to think of time-lapse photography as a “god’s eye” technique that compresses time. “It’s a way to get people thinking about the future, by making it seem as if time passes quickly. We show subjects that change imperceptibly slowly in real time and create an impression of motion. Subjects that are already moving quickly become frenzied activity. It’s an ideal way to capture the movement, patterns, and activity in cities. Things that are usually subtle to our eyes like the clouds, sun, moon, and stars can be pulled out and emphasized. Adding 3D and motion into the mix helps immerse the viewer in this ‘god’s eye’ perspective or quasi-dream state.”
Jeremy Mayer, who can spend up to 1,400 hours creating one of his pieces, dissembles vintage typewriters and then recombines the mechanical pieces to make anthropomorphic sculptures — without welding, soldering or gluing. In a story for Wired.com, he described his work as a cross between Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical drawings and the futures imagined by sci-fi maestros such as Philip K. Dick.
He said he was thrilled with Chang’s film. “I must have watched it a hundred times and just couldn’t believe how cool it is. It means a lot to me — it’s like a chronicle of my time here in the Bay Area since I moved from Tahoe. It starts out with the servers, like I experienced in Silicon Valley, then goes to me, then shows all the scenes that I’ve been taking in since I’ve been here. Quick zip across the Richmond bridge and back to my studio. Just like my life. This really means a lot to me.”
Note: The film clip above is in 2D. To view in 3D, watch this YouTube version, hover over the 3D button in the bottom right corner of the video and select “Change Viewing Method…” Pick from several anaglyph (colored glasses) and stereo modes.