4-Dimensional Photography: Artistic Time-Lapse City Collages

Motion pictures aside, the nature of photographic representation implies freezing space in time – a moment captured and preserved, independent of what comes before or after.

time lapse day night

time lapse vertical sky

Yet, as photographer Fong Qi Wei points out, “we do know that time is also a dimension, like length, breadth and width. In fact, physicists have a model called space-time: suggesting that time is part of a continuum with the 3 dimensions that we are familiar with. But the print is still an instance. Most paintings and photographs are an instance of time. That’s not the way the world works. We experience a sequence of time.”

time elapsed photo seeries

time lapse rays light

His solution is this photo series, Time is a Dimension, in composed mostly of “landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes,” which “are a single composite made from sequences that span 2-4 hours, mostly of sunrises and sunsets. The basic structure of a landscape is present in every piece[, but] each panel or concentric layer shows a different slice of time, which is related to the adjacent panel/layer. The transition from daytime to night is gradual and noticeable in every piece, but would not be something you expect to see in a still image.”

time lapse waterfront attraction

time lapse urban landscape

There is a playful and experimental quality to the variety of approaches found within this set of images. Sometimes a series of casually-drawn circles spread out from a focal point. In other cases, rays like a child’s drawing of sunshine span from some implied but out-of-frame source. Each has at least one surprise upon inspection, like the changing reflections in glass over the course of a day, or the differences in artificial illumination going into the night. Overall, the results are rich in colors and shades but also do tell a story of time elapsing, quite by design.