While the world rushes around him, absorbed in the chaos of everyday life, German artist Volker Gerling has slowed right down with his project, Portraits in Motion. Driven by his fascination with everyday people, he has walked thousands of kilometres around the world to take photos of people to create flipbooks that candidly capture people in their everyday life. Jean Bell hears about the passion behind his project.
The beauty of people as they go about their everyday lives is what captures Volker Gerling's attention.
The German artist and intrepid traveller has walked more than 4000km since 2003, photographing thousands of photos of people in everyday situations for his flipbook project, Portraits in Motion.
"I stand alone on stage but I'm not really alone as all the people I met are on stage."
His curiosity about everyday people helped him capture his small yet magical encounters with others.
"The most interesting thing in the world for me is to meet people and hear their stories."
Gerling originally wanted to be a film director but was deterred by the lack of freedom that came from relying on third-party funding to make a film.
He happened to stumble upon the humble flipbook and thus the love affair began.
"I realised this is how I would like to tell stories from the very beginning."
When he is out walking in towns and cities to take photos for the flipbook, he senses the energy of people and only approaches those he feels would be willing subjects.
He does not warn people that he is taking a flipbook of them and instead asks if he can take a quick photo of them.
To make a flipbook he takes 36 photos during a 12-second period.
People tended to pose for the initial shot but they are caught unawares by the continued photos.
This is where Gerling captures people in their candid state.
"I shake the people out of their poses."
"The emotions and gestures ... the smallest smile or blink ... are like gifts for me."
He said the stop-start motion of flipbooks, with the audience having to fill in the gaps and the ability to mould and play with time, created something magical.
"The flipbook is the perfect medium to tell people's stories and bring them alive on-screen."
He said the flipbook broke the viewer out of time, like a dream.
"When you dream you are free in time. You can unroll the past and control the future.
"If you look at a flipbook you are in a very special way connected to time and what time could be."
While the flipbook was invented more than 100 years ago, Gerling believed the medium has stood the test of time, especially compared to film.
"It is perfect and absolutely timeless. You will find it 100 years ago, and you will find it 100 years in the future."
Gerling will be bringing his show, Portraits in Motion, to this year's Tauranga Arts Festival.
Tauranga Arts Festival - Portraits in Motion
October 24, 7.30pm - Litt Park Theatre, Park Lane, Te Puke
October 25, 7.30pm - The Arts Junction, Katikati
October 27, 7pm - University of Waikato, Durham St, Tauranga
For more information and to buy tickets visit the Tauranga Arts Festival website.