Tin Toy #6 (2021)

A final clutch of bird-based photographs, kicked-off by The Kick-About #33, and the method was a little different this time. An animation sequence was created from this previous set of photographs, which was then layered twice, with new stills exported from the resulting composite. I wanted to see if I could further efface the original subject, while dailling up the ‘flutter’. I enjoy the delicacy of the resulting images, evoking birds, of course, but also butterflies and other more exotic wisps. At time of writing, the mechanism inside the blue bird has worn out. We’re both done with all this for a while at least.

Tin Toy #5 (2021)

With the addition of an old mirror, I was now able to get my little pecking blue bird ‘ice-skating’ in imperfect circles, producing these barely-there photographs that somehow bring to mind decorative motifs of the 1950’s. Again, the illustrative effects of long-exposure on this little tin toy and its lo-fi domestic set-up fills me with satisfaction – and ideas for more ambitious games one fine day. I’m quite a long way from Herzog’s dancing chicken now.

Tin Toy #4 (2021)

A change of light and space for the little wind-up blue bird toy, the camera working harder, the subject of the photograph softening still further, with the highlights rim-lighting the toy’s outline producing whirling white propellers. I always love it when the in-camera transformations are so unexpected; I clapped by hands with child-like pleasure at some of these images – at the unknowability of their more matter-of-fact provenance. Surely this is magic, these games of time and light. This is what I’ve come to so enjoy about The Kick-About, the way it gives me license to pick something up – in this instance, something as unlikely as a dancing chicken – and then run with it until my curiosity expires or other commitments intrude. More transformations ahead!

Tin Toy #3 (2021)

Another day, another tin-toy, and this time a rather wonderful clockwork ‘blue bird’ that pecks elegantly at the ground while turning in circles. Inspired by the creative gauntlet set down by The Kick-About #33, I continued to enjoy the vanishing effects of movement + long exposure, with the design and motion of this particular toy promising lots of enjoyably ephemeral outcomes and ideas too for further play.

Tin Toy #2 (2021)

So, recap… The Kick-About #33 got me thinking about dancing chickens and long-exposure photography, and in lieu of actual chickens, I sufficed with the clock-work variety. One of the tin-toys I sourced to meet this latest creative challenge was a little pecking chick, which, once wound-up and released, bounced around frenetically. I particularly liked the way the longest exposures transformed the pecking chick into a vibrating little molecule.

Tin Toy #1 (2021)

I was struck by the folksy, pop-culture qualities of Herzog’s dancing chicken – our prompt for The Kick-About No. 33 – and I was keen to investigate the movement of these performing animals too. The rather forlorn spectacle of these animals, in boxes, existing to entertain through repetitive actions, got me thinking about mechanical toys, so I acquired a mass-produced tin toy clock-work chicken and set about trying to capture its efforts to entertain me in the form of a series of long-exposure photographs. I tried a bunch of stuff – different exposures etc – and really enjoyed the unpredictability of the process, not least the waywardness of the clock-work rooster itself. Ultimately, there is something inescapably comedic about chickens, though I loved the way the object itself was effaced by some of the longer exposures, becoming something dreamier, ephemeral and odd. Suitably inspired, I turned my attentions to some other tin-toy birds I’d sourced, and soon kicked-off another series of photographic investigations, the results of which will follow on here over the coming days.