Sunday, October 31, 2004

Edweard Muybridge - A Story Of Motion Picture


Edweard Muybridge - Horse in motion Originally uploaded by Ferrari1.

This Autumn we embraced ourselves for a 10 hour round trip to Londons Hayward Gallery we arrived wondering where exactly it was i think we all envisaged this trendy modern minimalist gallery space but it was far from that: a concrete shell resembling an army bunker, as we prepared for ambush and hurled ourselves up a succession of stairs to embark on a world of optical wonders, an exploration of discovery through light and shadows. Strange effects and weird contraptions combine for a psychadelic experience. We were bombarded with exquisite images: magic lanterns, showing an eerie array of apparitions from ghouls to drumming skeletons. Upstairs there were new delights to be found in the intricate spaces: 'witch' mirrors that multiply your reflection, enter a camera obscura and marvel at the world turned upside down. I was overcome by the incredible devices that captured movement hundreds of years before the invention of film but i also realised the extent of how film had developed since the pioneering work of Edweard Muybridge.

Now the scene is set let me begin by saying two words Humungous and Happy Birthday (both of which i will not be explaining the purpose of) Now that i have introduced Edweard Muybridge i will explain exactly who he was, what he did and how it has influenced our lives today!

Eadweard Muybridge was,in my opinion a brilliant and eccentric photographer,who gained worldwide fame photographing animal and human movement imperceptible to the human eye. Like many others of his time, Muybridge went to America to seek his fortune. There in the early 1860's he learnt photography from the great landscape and survey photographer, Carlton E Watkins, becoming first his assistant and partner, then later his competitor, photographing hundreds of scenes for the railway companies. Calling himself at first 'Helios' and later using his own name he became well known for his work, including some of the earliest pictures of the natural splendours of Yosemite and other areas of outstanding natural beauty.

However it was a commission from ex-Governor Leland Stanford in 1872 that led to his most lasting fame. Stanford was the man who invented the California wine industry, showing that good quality wines could be produced from the grapes grown in the Napa valley. He had made his money from the railroads and spent it on making wine and breeding racehorses. Muybridge was hired by railroad baron Leland Stanford in 1872 in order to settle a wager with the business associates James R Keene and Frederick Maccellish, Muybridge used photography to prove that there was a moment in a horse’s gallop when all four hooves were off the ground at once. This was a time when the horse was still vital both to the economy as a means of power and transport as well as for activities such as racing. Studies into horse physiology were highly sought after especially by racehorse breeders and scientists who were interested in the physics of animation. http://photography.about.com/library/weekly/aa121399a.htm

Muybridges pioneering work into motion picture productions led to the invention of the "Zoopraxiscope" which was a primitive motion picture device that worked by showing a sequence of still photographs in rapid succession. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci214340,00.html

Here are some tasty links to savour your palette

http://www.photo.ucr.edu/photographers/muybridge/
http://www.artcontext.org/edu/sva/newMediaArt/lectures/motionPictures/muybridge.html

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