This video of plane landings by Cy Kuckenbaker has been quite the sensation this week, amassing over 1.7 million views between postings on Vimeo and YouTube. The video is, of course, not shot in real time, but rather, a composite of all the planes that landed at a single airport over a four-and-a-half hour period.
I discovered the video on Kottke.org where Jason Kottke referred to it as another example of “time merge media,” a trend that he first spotted nearly five years ago. However, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was Zbigniew Rybczynski’s masterful short Tango (1980):
There are obvious differences between the two pieces. Tango is an animated film created using a combination of pixilation and cut-out techniques whereas Kuckenbaker’s plane landings was created through a fancy bit of live-action video compositing with Premiere. But the resulting effect of densely layered imagery that manipulates our perception of time, or ‘time merge media’ as Kottke calls it, is substantially similar in both works.