The Graphic Method Bicycle is a performance with the features of an installation. A nude man sitting on a bicycle is pulled forwards extremely slowly by a motorized winch and steel cable at a speed of a fifth of an inch per second on a track some thirty feet long. As he moves, the cyclist is lifted up off the saddle by one of the pedals extremely slowly. This forces him to make a normal dismounting movement. At the same extremely slow speed, he must swing his leg over the saddle without touching it or leaning on it. In fact, slow-motion movement of the kind usually seen only on film or video is here executed in real life.
As a research project, The Graphic Method Bicycle aims to record exactly what happens when one tries to bring back to life a photographically recorded movement – in this case, a man getting off a bicycle (as if, through a reversal of time, an insect trapped in amber is suddenly released). This objective is exactly the opposite of what Etienne-Jules Marey sought to attain in 1885 when he dissected flowing movements into sequences of snapshots and fanned them out onto a single photographic plate, a so-called plaque fixe. This method – which Marey called “chronophotographic” – enabled the researcher to analyze the procession of frozen moments of motion at his leisure. He could now literally lay his hands on a two-dimensional replica of formerly three-dimensional, spatial movement wherever and whenever he pleased.