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Cronocyclegraphs were invented by the pioneers of scientific management, Frank and Lilian Gilbreth. With a 3-D camera, using a very long exposure time, they photographed people with a little light attached to one finger as they worked. Then they created a wire sculpture of the light trail described by the movement of the worker’s hands. The worker was to study this frozen gesture and learn from it. Frank Gilbreth named one such object “Perfect Movement.” Was he referring to aesthetic perfection, precision?

Frank Gilbreth described chronocyclographs thus: It is extremely difficult to demonstrate to the average person the reality and value, and especially the money value of an intangible thing. The motion model makes this value apparent and impressive. It makes tangible the fact that time is money and that an unnecessary motion is money lost forever. I think of chronocyclegraphs as utopian objects with real consequences. Motions became things and the people that made them, the workers, have vanished. Motion and money were equated. Movement in this world is no longer free or spontaneous; it is constrained, rationalized; it is part of the economic equation.

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