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News Sneak Preview of Moving Image Commission

Layla Curtis used a thermal imaging camera to film runners participating in this year’s Great North Run. The camera, which sees the world in terms of heat, rather than light, made visible the heat generated by the mass of runners moving through the cityscape. With stationary cameras positioned along the route on bridges, cranes and in the underpass on the central motorway, and bespoke hand-held cameras located at water stations, family meeting points and the finish line, she was able to capture the otherwise invisible heat traces transferred from the runners’ bodies onto the surfaces they made contact with during warm up, running and resting.

Heat marks from runners

Image: Thermal body prints left on the grass following a stretching session at City Stadium

(Image courtesy the artist)

 In order to determine the best locations from which to film the Great North Run, she needed to establish what kind of heat marks runners might leave on their environment and where she was most likely to find them. In the weeks preceding the run she tested the equipment in a variety of weather conditions and scenarios filming runners from local running clubs at all stages of their training. Her team also filmed at this year’s Great North 5km run. The resulting black and white footage depicts runners’ bodies reduced to glowing white silhouettes and reveals subtle transitory traces of their residual body-heat, transferred through hand, arm and leg prints onto railings, walls, trees and pavements as they come into contact with their environment.    



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