Experiment 15



October 5, 2012 - January 6, 2013


At the conclusion of its 15th experiment, Le Laboratoire presents Figure Studies by American artist David Michalek. The work applies the technology of high-speed HD video toward capturing scenes and subject matter reminiscent of the famous Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey photo-studies of human movement.

David Michalek filmed men and women at 3000 frames per second, so that products an exceptional slow-motion.

The human subjects are specialized bodies shaped by athletics, dancing, and physical labor, as well as non-specialized bodies. Within each group, there is a broad range of ages and body-types as well as ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Each subject is seen executing a particular movement sequence or concept that was arrived at through both artistic as well as scientific considerations – the latter in conjunction with Harvard Biologist, Dr. Dan Lieberman. He helped to define a variety of biomechanical categories.

Figure Studies is displayed on large projecting screens. The visitor discovers the captivating force of gestures decomposed by slow motion, which places them somewhere between phantasmagoria and scientific analysis, inviting the gaze to settle in a space where time is suspended.

Download the press release.

View the film.



About David Michalek

David Michalek is an artist who takes the concept and techniques of portraiture as the starting points for the creation of his works, on both a large and small-scale, in a range of mediums. His focus over the past ten years has been closely tied to his interest in relational aesthetics—specifically using performative and interactive techniques—storytelling, dialogue, movement—relying on the input and responses of others— subjects, collaborators, and audience—as integral to both the creation and the experience of his art. Early in his career, he worked as assistant to noted photographer Herb Ritts. In 1991, he began his professional photographic career and worked regularly as a portrait artist for publications such as The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Interview, and Vogue. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Michalek began experimenting with performance and installation, and developing large-scale, multi-dimensional projects. He has collaborated with director Peter Sellars on two staged works: Kafka Fragments and St. François d’ Assise. Other film and video work for theater includes collaborations with The Tallis Scholars; John Malpede and L.A.P.D.; and with the Brooklyn Philharmonic in a project for The Brooklyn Museum’s “Music Off the Walls” series. Michalek’s installations, mixed-media projects and public art have been shown nationally and internationally, including at Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Museum, LA Music Center, Paris Opera Bastille, Venice Biennale, Sadler’s Wells, Luminato Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Yale University, and The Kitchen. He is a visiting faculty member at Yale Divinity School, where he lectures on religion and the arts. David Michalek lives in New York with his wife Wendy Whelan, principal dancer of New York City Ballet.