Muybridge: The Eye in Motion

Professor Stephen Barber of Kingston University London, currently engaged in the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship project on the Scrapbook of Eadweard Muybridge, has annouced details of his forthcoming book, Muybridge: the Eye in Motion, to be published by Solar Books (USA distribution by University of Chicago Press) in 2012. This promises to be a major new book, covering many aspects of the man and his work, as outlined in the Introduction. Central to the book is what Barber describes as ‘that unique ocular object’, now held by Kingston Museum:

Muybridge’s Scrapbook, in which he amassed every trace he viewed as essential about his work, across a span of over thirty years, so that it accumulated into an extraordinary memory-book that interrogated and overspilled time and its own parameters.

…. an aberrant vision-machine as well as a time-machine, and an irreducible archive in its own right, that holds revelations not only about Muybridge’s work, but also into the origins of film, the future of digital culture, and the perception of urban and corporeal forms.

The second part of the book examines

the close and revealing connections between Muybridge’s work and that of two key but neglected instigators of cinema, Max and Emil Skladanowsky, who undertook the first-ever public screening of celluloid-based films for a paying audience [in Europe] (using a projector, the ‘Bioskop’, they had built themselves, and showing films they had shot themselves, with a film-camera they had constructed themselves), on 1 November 1895, at a hotel in Berlin, two years after Muybridge’s formative glass-disc projection events in his Zoopraxographical Hall at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition

In the third part of this work, Professor Barber

… interrogates that pivotal memory-document of Muybridge’s work – in many ways, a crucial document for the understanding of how contemporary visual cultures originated – by disassembling it into the fragments from which it was created, in order to probe the all-encompassing ocular and corporeal processes at stake in Muybridge’s work.

Muybridge’s pervasive inspiration extends far beyond the domain of film and photography, encompassing visual art, poetry, performance, fiction, digital media, choreography, and theory.

The book also examines

… the archival, preservational implications of Muybridge’s work and its own movement into the future, as a body of work whose contrary amalgam is fused by preoccupations with loss, speed, perception, projection, corporeality, vision and the ‘tactile’ eye. In many ways, those preoccupations are exactly those of contemporary digital culture, and connect with archival issues around the uniqueness and potential reproducibility of objects, through such processes as digitisation. While forming a seminal presence for contemporary culture, Muybridge’s work, in its non-replicating resistance to assimilation, also necessitates an archive of its own. In a parallel way, his Scrapbook, itself a self-archiving by Muybridge of his work’s fragmentary traces in texts and images, also demands the formulation of an archive consisting of one unique artefact, in the way that Jacques Derrida, in his final interviews, envisaged objects of such all-consuming resonance that they required a tangible separation and a distinct space of their own, in order more intensively to then impact upon and reveal the surrounding worlds, and their visual cultures; in that sense, no object deserves its ‘sacrosanct’ one-artefact archive more than Muybridge’s Scrapbook.

Stephen Barber tackles  much, much more in this new work – do read the Introduction, which is online now.

http://muybridgesscrapbook.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/1-the-past-and-the-future/

Stephen Barber holds a PhD from the University of London. He has previously held posts at Sussex University, the University of Tokyo, the Berlin University of the Arts, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Keio University Research Centre for Art in Tokyo, and the California Institute of the Arts, where he was a Visiting Professor in 2007-8. He has been a Professor since 2002.

Stephen has received numerous awards and prizes for his research, from such foundations and funding bodies as the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and the London Arts Board, in the UK; the Rockefeller Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Annenberg Foundation, in the USA; the DAAD-Programm in Germany; the Japan Foundation, the Daiwa Foundation, and the Saison Foundation, in Japan

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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