Animal Locomotion, Plate 287 by Eadweard Muybridge
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- Artwork Info
- About the Artist
- About this Photograph
Collotype on period paper
Annotated, "LL", in pencil, au recto
Titled, dated, and annotated, with artist's name and image plate number, as part of plate
Printed in 1887
Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1903) was born Edward Muggeridge to a merchant family in Kingston upon Thames, England. Before his death in 1903, Muybridge would emigrate to America, change his name three times, come close to death and suffer brain damage in a carriage accident. Perhaps most sensationally, he would also be acquitted for the murder of Major Harry Larkyns, his wife’s lover, and the true father of his presumed son Floredo Helios Muybridge.
Muybridge was instrumental in the development of instantaneous photography. To accomplish his famous motion sequence photography, Muybridge even designed his own high-speed electronic shutter and electro-timer, to be used alongside a battery of up to twenty-four cameras.
While Muybridge’s motion sequences helped revolutionize still photography, the resultant photographs also punctuated the history of the motion picture. Muybridge came tantalizingly close to producing cinema himself with his projection device the ‘Zoöpraxiscope’. With this device, Muybridge lectured across Europe and America, using the Zoöpraxiscope to animate sequences from his motion studies.
The 19th century, undoubtedly one of the most formative of the modern Western world, was as bent on progress, invention and innovation as Muybridge. Muybridge’s capacity for entrepreneurialism and progressive practice meant he invented photographic and moving image projection techniques which helped build the motion picture industry we enjoy today. However, it also meant he documented some of the major events, and more subtly, the cultural and social landscape of the 19th century.
These themes of Muybridge’s photography help us to understand 19th Century life by documenting key events and ideas within it. However, to many theorists of the medium, photographic work not only represents social and political attitudes and occurrences, but also helps form the ideological belief systems which underlie them.
To theorists such as Roland Barthes, the reason photography is so good at consolidating or producing beliefs in its viewer is because it appears as a literal, factual representation of the world; something produced mechanically with no room for human error – unlike the painting, which is clearly created by the human hand. The factual appearance of the photograph is said to signify a truth-value which helps produce whatever its subject might be as a fact.
Adapted from: EadweardMuybridge.co.uk
This is an original Collotype print created by Muybridge as part of his monumental project on animal and human locomotion. Although Muybridge used a series of cameras aligned to accurately record his subjects as they passed in front, because he was interested in the final arrangement being aesthetically pleasing, he would often present images out of their sequence so that the final image was a believable rendering of motion. This print projects a rhythm that may not exist in the real world, but is one that is entirely believable as scientific evidence into how this animal reacts in motion.