The Unconventional Time/Motion Studies of Mike Mandel #ArtTuesday

In the early 1900s, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth performed studies to analyze and refine workers’ movements. To record visual data on movement, they captures movements in a still image they called the chronocyclegraph by attaching pulsing lights to the workers’ hands and making 3-D, time-lapse images. This technique inspired Mike Mandel to use the same technique to create his wonderful artwork. Here’s more from JUXTAPOZ:

[Mike Mandel] discovered the stereographic imagery of efficiency studies created by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, and he began to photograph his own time/motion studies of everyday life which resulted in the book Making Good Time, self-published in 1989. In the early years of the 20th century, the Gilbreths competed with Frederick Winslow Taylor in the new field of Scientific Management to study the work methods of laborers in the newly created factories to save time and increase production for their clients. Later, Frank and Lillian and their twelve children became America’s favorite family after a series of books were published about their efficiency-conscious household in the 1950s. The movie, Cheaper By the Dozen, 1950, celebrated their obsessive efficiency as a situation comedy, but few people are familiar with the Gilbreths’ contribution to the history of photography that uniquely changed how workers were managed by their employers. The Gilbreths employed small, strobing lights that they attached to a worker’s wrists to measure the “one best way” to do work. They made time exposures of factory workers, typists, soldiers, and surgeons.

They naïvely believed that their photography would reduce fatigue on the job and that the worker would share in the benefits of increased production. In Making Good Time Mandel responds with his own time/motion studies.

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