T MAGAZINE - Steven Sebring’s Fourth-Dimensional Perspective
“It’s dope, isn’t it?” asked Steven Sebring in his Lower Manhattan studio. He was gazing at what he calls the Rig, a 10.5-by-15-foot igloo-like silver contraption (or “geodome”) designed to capture the form and movement of the subject standing inside from every imaginable angle. Sebring, a fashion photographer and award-winning filmmaker, used the device to create “Revolution,” a three-year effort on display for three days at the 69th Regiment Armory. The multimedia exhibition pays simultaneous tribute to the 19th-century English photographer Eadweard Muybridge and to Marcel Duchamp, whose abstract classic “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2″ drew inspiration from Muybridge’s pioneering stop-motion imagery. The device contains 100 synchronized cameras that shoot in predetermined sequences, allowing Sebring to capture form and movement from numerous perspectives simultaneously — for example, his muse, Coco Rocha, spinning and dancing (as seen in “Discovery,” the first clip above). He can then present the results in numerous forms, including film, photographs and sculpture.
“Revolution,” which Sebring financed through his fashion photography for such companies as M.A.C. and Coach, is a technical quantum leap from his previous film project, the excellent but conventional Patti Smith documentary “Dream of Life.” The genesis for the project came to him while he was studying “a way to photograph humans as art,” explained the usually secretive artist, dressed in his signature brown fedora and heavy black horn-rims. “This is a true collision of Muybridge and Duchamp. It’s a vision — or video — of the minds of those artists.” He describes it as a peek into the fourth dimension because of the way it allows viewers to experience a singular moment in time from multiple viewpoints. “If people say this isn’t the fourth dimension — then show me it. Because nobody’s ever seen it before.”
Visitors to the armory will encounter 25 works of photography, sculpture and film that use Sebring’s technology. The exhibition comes 100 years after Duchamp scandalized American audiences at the legendary 1913 Armory Show with the stateside debut of “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2,” and Sebring wouldn’t object if his work elicits a similar reaction. “The possibilities are monstrous,” he exclaimed. “This could change the future of fashion photography. Why would anyone want to see flat portraits anymore?” Whatever happens when expected guests like Patti Smith, Donna Karan, Delphine and Reed Krakoff, Johan Lindberg, and Coco Rocha descend upon the official opening of “Revolution” on Wednesday evening, Sebring will be enjoying himself. “I’m just going to step back and watch,” he said with a puckish grin. “I’ll be a complete voyeur.”
“Revolution” is on view from May 21 to May 23 at the 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue, New York; sebringrevolution.com.