Slit-scan contexts – moving image as output

This page is intended as a repository for references to artists’ work, thinking and critique featuring the use of slit-scan where the final output is moving image.

Don Whitaker has produced some astounding slit-scan video pieces, for example ‘Surfing the 4th Dimension’ featured below.

The final video is a combination of single line scans taken from each frame, advanced over time.

Whitaker explains “So each frame of the final clip represents the change over time of a stationary spot. As the video advances, the spot we are seeing moves through space. Normally as a video advances we move through time, so we’ve sort of swapped the two.” (Whitaker 2010).

The video processing technique employed here, although simple in principle, is ‘expensive’ in terms of computational requirement and (for now) could only be feasibly produced in realtime with a very small image, so small that the effect would probably be lost.

What is the effect? Perhaps it is that the mutation of organic form via temporal distortion results in shapes and movement that are at once alien and yet familiar. I’ll be creating a separate critical appreciation of Surfing The 4th Dimension which I’ll link to once it’s finished.

James (Jung-Hoon) Seo, formerly a student at the MIT Media Laboratory, has produced a series of interactive video works which allow a user to control temporal effects via realtime interaction. For example, Smudge City (2006), which offers a ‘smudge tool’ device enabling selection of an area of video image that shows a time-advanced frame. The ‘smudge’ effect is created by graduating from ‘now time’ to ‘advanced time’ so that rather than a simple ‘hole’ being created that shows an image variant, a collection of layers showing incrementally time-advanced images is progressively revealed.


Interestingly enough, Seo describes how his own work started off life as a set of tools – “I started these sketches at first because I wanted to be able to easily try different ideas for layout while making split-screen videos. It can be frustrating to use consumer-level video editing applications for this purpose, because they require several steps (and possibly long rendering times) to generate each multi-layered shot, and you can’t play with many ideas quickly.” (Seo 2009).

This is a frustration I share and similarly a good reason to investigate realtime control of video manipulation.


Seo, J. (2009) Asynchrony [Internet] available at ‘’ Accessed December 2012
Whitaker, D. (2010) Surfing the 4th Dimension [Internet] available at ‘’ Accessed November 2012

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