For Your Diary September-October 2010

from a lantern slide, Kingston Museum

Lots happening Muybridge-wise in the UK over the next few months. Here are some of the events taking place during September and October. More details as they emerge.

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain
8 Sept – 16 Jan
Tate Britain, Millbank
First major UK retrospective of Muybridge’s entire career.
Tickets £10/£8.50 from htpp://www.tate.org.uk/britain

Muybridge in Kingston Launch Day
Sat 18 Sept 12.30-7pm
Kingston Museum & Stanley Picker Gallery
Public launch of the Muybridge in Kingston exhibitions with special events for all the family, including a magic lantern show from Professor Heard, shadow puppetry from Zannie Fraser and an evening launch lecture on Muybridge’s links to the history of the moving and projected image by Muybridge expert Stephen Herbert.
All welcome – no booking required.

Park Nights at Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Becky Beasley & Chris Sharp
Fri 24 Sept 8pm
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens
13 pieces, 17 feet is a monologue in thirteen parts that finds its point of departure in Muybridge’s extraordinary 1878 San Francisco panorama.
Tickets £5/£4 from http://www.serpentinegallery.org/park_nights/

Late at Tate: Eadweard Muybridge
Fri 1 Oct 6pm-10pm
Tate Britain, Millbank
An evening of Muybridge-inspired events.
Visit htpp://www.tate.org.uk/britain for further details.

In Conversation: Trevor Appleson
Wed 6 October 7pm
Stanley Picker Gallery
Exploring Muybridge’s influence on contemporary arts practitioners.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8417 4074

Muybridge & Moving Image History
Thurs 14 Oct, 28 Oct & 11 Nov 7pm
Kingston Museum
Evening lecture series offering unique insights into the relationship between Muybridge’s work and the history of visuality, film and animation.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8547 6460

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge and Will Day

Brochure announcing Will Day's book

I recently downloaded Muybridge’s book Animals in Motion - available here:

http://www.cineressources.net/images/ouv_num/019.pdf

and The Human Figure in Motion, here:

http://www.cineressources.net/images/ouv_num/053.pdf

Dr. Stillman’s magnificent (though flawed) The Horse in Motion is also available, here:

http://www.cineressources.net/images/ouv_num/156.pdf

These copies all belonged to Will Day.

The Chapter details shown here are from the two-volume book 25,000 Years to Trap a Shadow, by Wilfred E. L. Day. The picture of the book is an artist’s impression – it was never published.

Will Day (1873-1936), for those who haven’t come across him, was involved in the early days of cinema as a travelling showman, became a major figure in the British cinema equipment industry – and tried his hand much less successfully in production. Fascinated , to the level of obsession necessary for a dedicated collector without substantial financial resources, he accumulated a large collection of material relating to pre-cinema and the early days of the film industry. In the 1920s this was shown in a back room of his shop in London’s Lisle Street. He was the foremost champion of the claims of William Friese Greene to be acknowledged as the ‘inventor’ of cinema.

Zoöpraxiscope disc displayed in London's Science Museum in the 1930s

Day went into the radio business in the 20s, and was a key player in the very early days of television, in partnership with John Logie Baird, and was at one time co-patentee of television. All the time his interest in the origins of cinematography continued, his collection eventually being displayed in a special gallery in the Science Museum, London. The prestige enabled Day to add many items. The collection included several Muybridge publications.

In 1931, Day gave a speech at the unveiling of the memorial tablet in Kingston Museum, and around that time donated a zoetrope to the museum, with a copy of an original picture strip of a silhouette sequence of a Muybridge galloping horse.

Zoetrope, Kingston Museum Collection

He was keen that the motion aspects of Muybridge’s work should be seen by visitors, and suggested that the zoetrope could be worked by a handle. It was never installed. I believe that a phenkistiscope moving image disc (mid 19th-century) in the Kingston Collection was also provided by Will Day.

Day’s collection at one time included a lens that had purportedly been used by Muybridge – I’m currently researching that particular item.

His book was compiled during the same period, but Day was not a professional writer and it never did quite shape up into a publishable script. He tried to sell his collection in the mid 30s, and a catalogue was compiled and printed, but the sale didn’t happen. Day had sold out his television patent after becoming exasperated by Baird and perhaps realizing that it would not be a paying business for many years. He helped at the Forty Years of Cinema celebrations at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London in the spring of 1936, but by then he was tired and ill. He died just weeks later. In the fifties his sons offered to sell his collection to the nation, but the necessary funding was not made available. It was purchased by the French Government, and now forms an important part of the French national collections on early and pre-cinema.


The manuscript and typescripts of the book (in several drafts) are in the Bibliotheque du film (BiFi) in Paris and accessible to researchers. I have not read the Muybridge chapter.

Zoopraxicope disc, Cinématheque française

‘Le mouvement continué’ catalogue number 1201. Inv. AP-95-1731 (W. Day) Glass disc painted with 11 phases of a horse and rider in motion. Accompanied  by a metal shutter disc, with 12 slots.

A 16-inch Zoopraxiscope disc, once displayed in the Will Day section of the Science Museum, went to France with his collection, and is now on display in the Cinema Museum in Paris. It is not known how this came to be released from the Kingston Collection. The disc, showing a cantering horse, is seen in Day’s catalogue (there were two editions). The illustration here is from a book by Laurent Mannoni.

I have bumped into the ‘ghost’ of Will Day on many occasions over the years – as I posed in front of that same 1931 memorial tablet when the Muybridge exhibition opened at MOMI London in 1992; researched cinema pioneers in his documents at BiFi; Viewed David Robinson’s exhibition of Day’s life and work at the Pordenone silent film festival some years ago; and examined his lecture slides (about the development of cinematography) at the Cinémathèque archives in Paris. I was even roped in to project a film on a Lumière Cinématographe at London’s Polytechnic – now Westminster University – (as Day had tried to do half a century earlier) for the Centenary of Cinema celebrations in 1996. Also in 1996 I was commissioned to provide two small motorised zoetropes for the new Muybridge Gallery at Kingston Museum – sixty years after Day’s attempt to arrange a working zoetrope. (They have been creaking around in the cabinet to this day, and are due to be removed for a replacement exhibit layout next month.)

Will Day’s achievements have always been prominently acknowledged by those who now hold his collections of equipment, books, lantern slides, films, and documents – and, notwithstanding his shortcomings as a historian, his efforts will always be remembered by media researchers. As Stephen Bottomore has written, “In an age before cinematheques and film museums existed he saw the importance of this work, and today’s film historians have much to thank him for.”

References

Laurent Mannoni, Le Mouvement continué. Catalogue illustré de la collection des appareils de la Cinémathèque française
This catalogue describes (accurately) and illustrates all of the items of equipment (including phenakistiscope discs, etc) from the Will Day Collection.

Laurent Mannoni, ‘”Whither wilt thou lead me?”: en suivant l’ombre de Will Day’, Cinémathèque, no. 6 (Autumn 1994)

Will Day, ‘The joys of operating twenty years ago’, Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly, 1 March 1917

Will Day, ‘The Portrayal of Movement. History of Cinematography. From Camera Obscura to the Living picture’. The Times, 19 March 1929.

Will Day, 25,000 Years to Trap a Shadow. The Birth and Biographical History of Moving Pictures (unpublished)

Michelle Aubert, Laurent Mannoni and David Robinson (eds.), ‘The Will Day Historical Collection of Cinematograph & Moving Picture Equipment’, special issue of the journal 1895, October 1997
This publication includes essays on the books, films, and other items in the Will Day Collection, researched in recent years by French scholars.

Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema website:
www.victorian-cinema.net/day.htm

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge: Patents listed

I was tempted to follow the journalistic tradition and title this post ‘Patently Obvious’ but I resisted.

Now Patents aren’t everyone’s favourite reading material, but they do of course contain important information pertinent to the work of inventors, and can also lead to clues as to what they were doing with their lives at a particular time.

Following on from the possible ‘French Connection’ of my previous post, comes news of a previously undiscovered (perhaps) French patent, most likely for Muybridge’s – or rather Muygridge’s – printing invention (which I haven’t yet got to grips with). It’s listed in the Index volume of the Bulletin des Lois (Bulletin of Laws) for 1865, which apparently includes material dated up to the end of December 1863. The patent was most likely granted in 1862 – but this is not yet confirmed.

There’s also another French patent that I haven’t seen listed, 121743 of 21 December 1877; also in the Bulletin, 1879 edition. Most likely this was for his clock synchronizing system.

I’m gradually putting together this patent information on a new webpage at The Compleat Muybridge. If technical jargon is your thing, enjoy.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

In search of ‘Helios’

Onward away ! away his steeds,
Mad with the momentary pause,
Plunge through the scattered clouds !

Helios !

Richard Henry Horne
Prometheus the Fire-bringer (1864)

The exhibition Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, (which ended recently) has brought to light a major problem with our understanding of the early work. In the 1860s, Muybridge adopted the name ‘Helios’ for the publication of his photographs. Some photographs bear the name scratched into the image. It has always been assumed that this was simply a pseudonym, but photohistorian Weston Naef has claimed that Muybridge bought negatives by others, including Carleton Watkins, selling the prints under the Helios label – which was essentially a ‘studio name’ rather than a pseudonym.

Naef’s arguments include the suggestion that many of the early photographs are too accomplished to have been taken by someone who had been in the business for such a short time, and that there is no evidence that Muybridge commenced photography before his return to the USA in 1866. There is also solid evidence that some ‘Muybridge’ and ‘Helios’ photographs should be attributed to others. I shall be taking a look at those claims over the coming weeks, as time allows. In the meantime, a short story about one of my web searches…..

A few years ago, I noticed that the online catalog of the George Eastman House included an early address for Muybridge – in Paris. Could he really have been located in France in 1864?

Late Summer 1861 he wrote to his uncle that he was leaving for the continent “on business that may detain me some months.” On 3 December 1862 the Daily Alta California reported: ‘A letter from Paris of Oct. 24th says: There has been a great influx of Californians within the past few weeks. [...] E.J. Muygridge was here a few days since, but has returned to London…’

I contacted George Eastman House.

Hello, I note that one of the addresses on your Bibliog file (online) for Eadweard Muybridge is:

ADDRESS:
France, Paris — 9 rue Cadet (1864)

This was the address of photographer M. Berthaud. I believe that Muybridge may indeed have been in Paris at this time, but there are no details in any of the biographical works that I have been able to find. Would it be possible to find out where this address came from? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you, Stephen Herbert (Muybridge Consultant, Kingston Museum).

I received the following response:

Dear Mr. Herbert,
Yes, that does seem questionable. I do not have a way of supporting this Paris address and am inclined to delete it from our (new) database (not yet available to offsite research). As a compromise, I have moved it into 2nd place from 1st place in the record. Sorry to be so slow in responding and so unhelpful as well.

Joe R. Struble
Assistant Archivist

So that, I thought, was that. No way to check.

And then days ago, a private collector – finding the “Rue Cadet” address on my website during an internet search -  sent me this.

On the back of which, is this:

Yes, the trade name of  Mons. Berne-Bellecour in association with M. Berthaud was – ‘Helios’.

Around 1867, Michel Berthaud became associated with Etienne Berne-Bellecour (active in photography from 1864 to 1870 – was this E. Berne-Bellecour the painter?) who had already established the ‘Helios’ firm – we do not yet know exactly when. By 1867 Muybridge was back in  France, so unless Berne-Bellecour was using the name Helios in 1865-66, or earlier, our Muybridge connection disappears.

(After Bern-Bellecour’s departure in 1870 the firm continued under Berthaud, using the ‘Helios’ name for decades, and with many branches in the 1870s-80s.) [Eves Lebrec]

The possibilities seem almost endless – but here are three:

a) Muybridge worked in France for M. Berne-Bellacour’s company in the 1860s, which used the name Helios as an encompassing title to cover the photographs of more than one partner. This was where Muybridge developed his photographic skills, and accounts for why he isn’t found in the English press (including the photographic periodicals) at that time, and doesn’t seem to have been a member of any British photographic society. Somewhere there is evidence of this French connection, used by the GEH cataloguer.

b) Muybridge, who certainly visited Paris in the 1860s, noted the name Helios at M. Berne-Bellecour’s establishment, and adopted it for the same reason – a trade name would cover the published photographs of more than one photographer – which would tie in with Weston Naef’s suggestion.

c) Complete coincidence.

If (b) or (c), the GEH cataloguer must have noted the address on a dated French carte printed with the ‘Helios’ design, and aware that this was Muybridge’s trade name, made a leap of faith and assumed that he was working from that address at that time.

For a few moments I hoped that I would find an early use of Muybridge’s scratched ‘Helios’ with an acute accent (Hélios), a tiny Roland Barthes ‘punctum’ that would instantly prove a French connection, but as I peered fruitlessly at the various relevant photographs that hope gradually dissolved.

This possible French ‘Helios’ connection is tantalising enough, but it doesn’t stop there.

In 1859 the French photographer Camille-Leon-Louis Silvy (1834-1910) moved to England and opened what was perhaps London’s first carte-de-visite studio, at the beginning of the huge craze for cartes. The website of the National Portrait Gallery states: “In summer 1859 Silvy established his London studio in Bayswater on the north side of Hyde Park. He chose this location because he was a keen and knowledgeable horseman and wanted to make equestrian portraits.”

Silvy had taken up photography in 1857 to document his travels, his most well-known photograph was of the river Huisne in 1858, known today as “River Scene, France”. (Not for Silvy the 10,000 hours of practice that Weston Naef says is necessary to become world class.) http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/2010/06/a-man-qa-weston-naef-on-eadweard-muybridge-part-two/

Karen Hellman explains,

“Because clouded skies were challenging in early photographs, Silvy used a method first invented by Hippolyte Bayard and made famous by Gustave Le Gray that is to take a separate negative of a cloudy sky and splice it with the negative of the landscape in the printing stage. In addition, Silvy has to paint in parts of the main cluster of poplar trees as well as along the horizon to blend the two negatives. Because of his success with these techniques as evident in ‘River Scene,’ Silvy is recognized as one of the great craftsmen if photographic printing.”
Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography (Routledge 2008)

River Scene. Camille Silvy, 1858. (V&A Museum)

Anyone familiar with Muybridge’s landscape and travel photography will, of course, recognize this technique as one extensively used by Muybridge a few years later – he even constructed and patented a ‘sky shade’ to make the procedure easier.

After his 1859 move to London, Silvy quickly became prominent as a fashionable society portrait photographer, at 32 Porchester Terrace, a studio he called — Helios House. Apart from the portraits, Silvy created series of studies of light and weather, street scenes, and photographic reproductions of manuscripts – and was an inventor of machines (he would eventually create a panoramic camera).

Again, anyone accustomed Muybridge’s work will immediately note the parallels in all of the above.

In addition, Silvy experimented in making print runs of photographs in ink, at about the time that Muybridge was applying for a patent – apparently, though this is a mystery in itself, which I’m investigating – for his own printing method.

(After a spell in Exeter, in 1870 Silvy moved back to France. He became a manic-depressive and, poisoned by photographic chemicals, entered an asylum in 1881 and died there in 1910.)

All of the above is circumstantial evidence at best, and proves nothing. But it certainly indicates that there are places to look in an attempt to find out what Muybridge was doing in Europe – including a possibility that he was already deeply involved in photography – in the ‘lost years’ of 1861-66. And if indeed he was involved in a photographic studio then a letter, or dusty ledger, or account book, or agreement  … some scrap that’s survived the century and a half between then and now, is out there waiting to be discovered, somewhere. Somewhere….

In the meantime, with impeccable timing an exhibition, Camille Silvy – Photographer of Modern Life, opened at the National Portrait Gallery, London, on 15 July.

http://www.spoonfed.co.uk/london/event/camille-silvy-photographer-of-modern-life-1834-1910/at/national-portrait-gallery/

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge in my own back yard

Muybridge. A Sketch from Life

Drawing of Muybridge c.1890 by Hastings resident Harry Furniss, published in 1914. Furniss was also a lantern lecturer of note, who toured the country with his shows featuring political cartoons.

About once a week I cycle past Warrior Gardens, Warrior Square St Leonards, next door to my adopted ‘home town’ of Hastings on England’s South Coast. I didn’t know until recently that some of the flower beds were once the location of the Royal Concert Hall, dating from the 1870s. And this week, I discovered that Muybridge lectured there in 1890.

I had always thought it odd that he listed no south-east coastal towns in his promotional brochures – perhaps they weren’t too successful, and he didn’t have any really positive newspaper reports to quote for his advertisements. Some years ago I spent several days trawling provincial papers at Colindale (BL Newspaper Library), mostly following up clues from his own writings about where he’d lectured, and I found reports on most of the shows that I was looking for – though it was hard work for few returns – maybe a couple of lecture dates and a report or two for an afternoon’s work and five hours’ travel, if I was very lucky. I never did get to look at the papers for the South Coast.

The results of my searches were incorporated into my essay ‘Projecting the Living Image’, published in Eadweard Muybridge. The Kingston Museum Bequest, in 2004. A few straggling lectures have turned up since through digital searching, but this is the first for a while. It popped up during a random Google trawl for “Muybridge 1895”. I stumbled upon this extraordinary website about Victorian photographers in Sussex – and the advertisement for his lectures.

Reserved Seats, 2s.6d.; Second Seats, 2s.; and Third Seats, 1s. – (etc) Each lecture treats a separate matter, and the two complete the subject…. Children Half-price. First and Second Seats Reserved for Schools at half-price. Hastings and St Leonards News, 9 May 1890.

So, off to Hastings Library to find a report of the talk. I haven’t yet found an account of the evening lecture, but the afternoon show seems to have been a bit of a washout. The Hastings and St. Leonards Observer reported on the 10th: “The lecture, which was illustrated with views from the zoophaxiscope [sic] (which instrument is a wonderful invention of his own) was rather poorly attended, even considering the bad state of the weather.” A brief description of the presentation followed.

So that’s another one (or rather two) to add to the list. Back in America in 1892 he claimed to have just returned from Europe after giving 200 lectures – so there are more to be found.

The Royal Concert Hall eventually became the Elite Cinema, was bombed during WW2, and burned down in 1947 while advertising the film “Fire at Noon” – or so the local story goes. I can’t find any record of a film with that title. I suppose I should check the papers, but I’ve had enough of microfilm newspaper microtype for one week, and I’m following a more interesting story by digital means, the trail of Helios……

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge and the Science of Biomechanics

An illustration of the Glass Cage, from Charles Ducroquet’s Walking and Limping: A Study of Normal and Pathological Walking (JB Lipincott Co. 1965)

Biomechanics has taken many long strides since Muybridge’s pioneering photography, which does not always receive the scientific credit that it deserves.

The important scientific nature of Muybridge’s work is often misrepresented and sometimes totally dismissed. Although the scientific aspects were to some degree supervised at the University of Pennyslvania, his work for Stanford at Palo Alto (despite the later involvement of Dr. Stillman) was not. And it was here that Muybridge’s first significant scientific work was undertaken and successfully achieved.

Much has been made in recent writings about the grids used at Pennsylvania, dismissing them as ‘unscientific’ – and unsupportable statements made that his use of multiple cameras was ‘unscientific’ compared with the use of a single-lens camera by Marey, today’s writers making statements apparently based on the subjective writings and comments of Muybridge’s contemporaries. We shall be examining these subjects in later blog postings.

In the meantime, it’s good to see that the Helios exhibition in Washington has attracted some attention from modern practitioners of biomedical science, such as the following, extracted from the blog of prominent sports podiatrist Stephen Pribut.

Muybridge: Art, Motion and Biomechanics
http://www.drpribut.com/blog/index.php/2010/08/muybridge-art-motion-and-biomechanics/
by pribut on August 3, 2010

“An exhibition titled ‘Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change’  at the Corcoran displaying Muybridge’s groundbreaking photography and motion studies has just concluded. I had the joy of spending a few hours at the exhibit in close study…

Artists and scientists have long had an interest in human anatomy and motion. Over the last 50 years, movement and gait have been analyzed using gait plates, computer force distribution systems, electromyogram (EMG) and video. When, where and how did modern analytic methods develop? What was their antecedent? Most textbooks and articles are skimpy at best about much of the early history of the study of locomotion and movement.

The science of  biomechanics has forgotten about the 19th century developments that made for rapid progress in the last 100 years. The historical memories of biomechanics seem to start in the 20th century with Morton’s observations, and Elftman, Inman and Mann’s theories. [1] Artists, however, remember Muybridge,  and going further back, it is clear that Michelangelo was deeply interested in anatomy and Leonardo (performed dissections and) wanted to know how everything worked. Along the way to the present, many other artists and scientists studied and observed animal and human movement. But until the late 19th century there was no technology available to capture data and information of movement.

Eadweard Muybridge  (1830-1904) was the first to systematically develop equipment and techniques to photograph the movement of quadripedal and bipedal gait along with a variety of other movements, motions, and human athletic activities…. both the methodical study of movement and a film industry had their beginnings with the work of Muybridge.

Muybridge’s work has often been discounted as merely “art”, but it was an important qualitative look at movement. Diagrams in modern texts detailing varieties of normal and abnormal gait look like they were sketched from his plates or photographed using methods similar to his… Clearly there is inspiration, emotion, and art in his work, but using the scientific analysis and invention he was at the forefront in creating techniques that were later used to quantify motion and gait analysis. Look for more details on Muybridge on my main website in the near future.”

[1. The following note, brief details of some of the work of the researchers mentioned by Dr. Pribut, has been added by Stephen Herbert]

Herbert Elftman, Department of Anatomy, Columbia University, New York, N. Y. – ‘Body Dynamics and Dynamic Anthropometry’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Volume 63 Issue Dynamic Anthropometry, Pages 553 – 558 (1955). Published Online: 15 Dec 2006  http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/119778681/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

Verne Thompson Inman, Human Walking. (Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore: London 1981). Inman, VT, Ralston, HJ, and Todd, Frank .  http://www.univie.ac.at/cga/history/ww2.html

Roger A. Mann, M.D. and John Hagy, O.R.E.
‘Biomechanics of walking, running, and sprinting’, American Journal of Sports Medicine, September 1980 vol. 8 no. 5 345-350
http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/8/5/345

Sports Podiatrist, Stephen Pribut, D.P.M. hosts one of the first sports medicine injury websites, which has been online since 1995. The site focuses primarily on Running Injuries. Dr. Pribut is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery and faculty member of the George Washington University Medical School. Dr. Pribut’s sports podiatric medicine practice is located in Washington, DC. He is a past president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Stephen Pribut was the Chief Internet Engineer of the American Podiatric Medical Association and responsible for all aspects of the APMA’s Internet undertakings including online continuing medical education, web design, usability, information architecture, streaming media, and server installation and maintenance on multiple platforms. His early interest in the Internet for communication, information transfer, and knowledge based services continues with both the traditional web and Web 2.0 Social Media. Dr. Pribut has written and lectured on a variety of articles on athletic injuries, and biomechanics, and lectures both locally and nationally. He has published extensively on both medical and Internet related topics.

Professional memberships include the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

http://www.drpribut.com/blog/index.php/about/

A note on the illustration used at the top of this blog post:

Charles Ducroquet, a Paris physician, spent the better part of his life studying limping. He took films in the open air, processing them himself, while the patient waited. Later, he inspired his sons to continue the work, culminating in the book Walking and Limping: A study of Normal and Pathological Walking (JB Lipincott Co. 1965).

See also: The Science of Walking and Running

http://ejmuybridge.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/the-science-of-walking-and-running/

Posted here by Stephen Herbert