The Space Between Time

The Space Between Time, ABC Radio National, 10 May 2008 (Australia)

“This is a study of the man who made the movies possible – pioneer photographer Edward Muybridge who began taking large format photographs of iconic landscapes of the American West and then caught the eye of the railway pioneer Leland Standford who supported his innovations. Muybridge eventually created cameras (and film stock) that really did ‘stop time’ and his work still inspires young slo-mo video artists Shaun Gladwell and Daniel Crooks (who ‘slices’ time with software).

Radio Producer Tony Barrell also talks to Muybridge biographer Rebecca Solnit about his strange obsession, scandalous life and then asks astro-physicist Paul Davies if he thinks it’s possible that time could be made of particles – and if so, what’s in between? Presented by Brent Clough.”

This well crafted and interesting Australian radio programme was originallly broadcast around 2003, repeated in 2008, and is now available as a free Podcast here:

In full flow shortly after the publication of her book River of Shadows – the alternative title Motion Studies: Time, Space and Eadweard Muybridge is more appropriate here – Rebecca Solnit tells of the man who thought of himself as an artist, and went into science to make work for artists. Be perplexed by the conceptually mindblowing concepts of chronons (the elements of time), the aesthetics of slow motion, Zeno’s Paradox, quantum activity in empty space, skateboarding meditation, and not forgetting temporal grouting and time-slicing. All interspersed with and related to Eadweard Muybridge and his work, of course. Well worth the half-hour or so listening time.

(The image above, Eadweard J. Muybridge tribute,  is included on this post as I thought it chimed with the subject. So much Muybridge-related artwork on the web now. This can be seen in context here:
When you get there, look for picture title bottom right.)

Professor Abridge’s cartoon capers

Cartoon sequences by Henry Stull. ‘In Lighter Vein’ section, “Our Continent”, 18 April 1883

Click to enlarge

Following on from the previous blog post about an artist who lampooned Muybridge’s work, I was spurred by a posting on Coconino-World into investigating the artworks of Henry Stull (1851-1913). Cartoons by Stull appeared in the shortlived magazine Our Continent (1882-1884), and were unearthed by John Adcock of Yesterday’s Papers, from a microfilm edition.

The editor of the humor page “In Lighter Vein” in Our Continent, [Philadelphia : Our Continent Pub. Co., 1882] was
Max Adeler (Charles Heber Clark). This last page of the magazine was for humorous squibs, jokes and caricature featuring various artists, including Henry Stull.  [Note: Max Adeler was author of the book Out of the Hurly Burly, illustrated by A. B. Frost – who had also drawn a Muybridge -related cartoon. (See our previous blog post. Information from John Adcock.]

Cartoon sequences by Henry Stull. ‘In Lighter Vein’ section, “Our Continent”, 18 April 1883

A keen sketch artist from Canada with no formal training, Stull wanted to be an actor but gradually settled into drawing and painting in the USA.

“It was his employers in the insurance business who first noticed his talents at drawing and set him to work illustrating for insurance files. They also encouraged him to show his portfolio to various periodicals in New York City. He found employment as a staff illustrator for Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly, where he first produced caricatures and cartoons. His work was also published in other newspapers and magazines.”
[Excerpt from Animal and Sporting Artists in America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr. © 2008]

Stull eventually became one of the foremost horse painters of his era.

“In 1877 he began painting racehorse portraits on commission…. He did not meet with immediate success when he began painting in earnest in 1879. He received enough commissions that he was able to cut back on his frenetic illustrating career, but although he made considerable efforts to improve his painting, he lacked technical skill.“
[Animal and Sporting Artists in America by F. Turner Reuter, Jr.]

Henry Stull would quite likely have attended Muybridge’s lecture, as the photographer had given several presentations in New York in 1882 and early 1883, including a talk at the Turf Club in November ’82. These talks would have included silhouette and semi-silhouette images on the screen, both static (single images and multi-image sequence panels) and in motion.

There are several points about Stull’s panels that are somewhat curious, and raise questions.

First: the 1883 lampoon of Professor Abridge photographing a kicking mule precedes Muybridge’s photography of Ruth, the kicking mule!

Second: what exactly is the reference to clocks in the sequence of a boy chopping wood? It’s evidently part of the joke that the clocks all show widely differing times, but Muybridge didn’t use clocks in his photo sequences. Marey, however, did so – but only after 1883. Is the artist somehow ‘in the know’ about an intention by Muybridge to use such clocks, given that Muybridge patented a device for keeping clocks in synchronization?

Henry Stull cartoon. From the January 1883 issue of “Our Continent”

Third: did Stull’s use of silhouette and semi-silhouette precede or follow publication of Muybridge’s silhouette sequences? (i.e. were there earlier published sequences by Stull that made use of a silhouette technique.) Certainly his use of the technique predates his direct lampooning of Muybridge in April 1883, as this example from January shows – but Muybridge’s New York lectures had been late the previous year, so perhaps there was an influence.

The following year, Henry Stull disappeared for a while….

“After receiving a great deal of harsh criticism he vanished from the equine world in 1884. Six months later he reappeared, having acquired markedly better skills at depicting the horse; it is believed that he spent at least part of his absence studying equine anatomy at a veterinary school.

Stull’s work continued to improve throughout his career. In 1886 he, like many of his contemporaries such as J.M. Tracy… began incorporating the findings of Eadweard Muybridge, an English photographer whose kinematical studies of animals and humans led to the first accurate depictions of a galloping horse, into his paintings. Initial reception of this new style varied from cool to scornful….”
[Animal and Sporting Artists in America, F. Turner Reuter, Jr.]

Engraving by Henry Stull

‘The Great $10,000 Match Race At Sheepshead Bay, June 25, 1890 Salvator & Tenny’.

Source here.

Even in 1890, he was happy to continue with the old-fashioned style of depicting a gallop.

‘Ahead by a Length’, painting by Henry Stull, 1910

Perhaps hoping to be able to have his cake and eat it, in this 1910 painting Stull includes both the traditional ‘rocking horse’ gallop gait, and the more accurate ‘legs tucked under’ gait that was rarely seen before Muybridge’s photography.
Source Here.

Henry Stull continued painting horses, for important clients, until 1911; he died in 1913.

More on Stull here:

Henry Stull cartoon, ‘Our Continent’ 21 March 1883.

Frost, Eakins, Muybridge, and the wonderful world of Coconino

Drawing by A.B. Frost (c) Coconino

Drawing by A.B. Frost. An instantaneous sketch!
Cocinino Classics, at:

Arthur Burdett Frost (1851-1928) attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and studied under Thomas Eakins (who would later work with Muybridge) from 1879 to 1881. Frost and Eakins were both members of the Philadelphia Sketch Club.

Frost was born in Philadelphia, later spent some time in England, and while there illustrated work for Lewis Carroll.

“After his return from England in 1878, A.B. Frost started studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He got acquainted with the photographic experiments of Eadweard Muybridge, which inspired him to publish his first sequential stories.”
(From – the Dutch online Comiclopedia)

Long ago I saw an excellent, comprehensive, informative and thought-provoking essay on the web (in French) about Frost, at coconino-world, but it subsequently disappeared. It was there all the time at a different URL:

Part of a Frost cartoon sequence. Scribner’s Magazine, June 1890.

The English translation also came and went, but I’ve managed to excavate it, and you can read it here:


“One cannot imagine a historical situation more propitious for the influence of a pioneer of comics by the photographic revolution. The direct and original application of Muybridge’s and Eakins’ research to Frost’s humorous drawings defines a new subject for graphic exploration : the space of dynamic transformations which operate between images and permit the reader to mentally reconstitute movement.”

Stuff and Nonsense, 1884

Said this artist “Now don’t you suppose
An intelligent man like me knows
How a horse ought to go
Yet you say I don’t know
And believe what a photograph shows.”

“One of Frost’s cartoons … evokes this polemic between the “idealists” of movement and the Muybridgian “naturalists” …  Why do so many different civilizations use this quite impossible depiction ? It is because it cannot be interpreted in any other way, the pictogram very obviously signifies a cantering horse, and cannot be confused with anything else.”

I don’t know where it first appeared, but this cartoon was reproduced in a collection of his published work, Stuff and Nonsense, by A.B. Frost and C. Frost (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1884).

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier 'Self-Portrait in the Studio'. From: Gustave Larrounet, 'Meissonier'

The artist is perhaps intended to be Meissonier, who altered one of his paintings after he saw Muybridge’s images of the correct positions of a moving horse’s limbs.

If you have any interest at all in graphic storytelling, do please check out Coconino-World – itself a graphic masterpiece, and a project of great integrity and accomplishment.

Ronald Reagan, Muybridge and Stanford, and Death Valley Days

Ronald Reagan on the set of Death Valley days

“As the early morning  bugle call of the covered wagon train fades away among the echoes, another true Death Valley Days is presented by the famous Borax family of products….”

We haven’t heard much on this blog about Muybridge’s tv appearances – so here’s something new.

In 1964, the LA Times announced, “Reagan to Narrate ‘Death Valley Days’” – a popular tv show that had already been running for more than a decade, featuring stories from the Old West. [18 Oct 1964]. Director of the show was Reagan’s brother, Neil [South Florida Sun – Sentinel 13 Dec 1996]. In syndication the show was variously titled: Call of the West; The Pioneers; Trails West; and Western Star Theater.

The programme's sponsor - Borax

Do check out the commercial slot on Youtube:

Death Valley Days was invariably sponsored by Pacific Coast Borax Company, (later: U.S. Borax Company). Advertisements for the company’s best-known products, 20 Mule Team Borax, a laundry additive, Borateem detergent, and Boraxo powdered hand soap, were often done by the programme’s host. Death Valley was the scene of much of the company’s borax mining operations. Wikipedia says: “Death Valley Days is, judging from sheer number of episodes broadcast, by far the most successful syndicated television Western, the most successful television Western ever in the half-hour format, and arguably the most successful syndication of any genre in the history of the U.S. television market…”

The episode that interests us was entitled ‘The $25,000 Wager’ (1964). Season 13: Episode 10. Air Date: December 24th, 1964
[NOTE: an audio tape of the soundtrack sold on eBay recently, and this gave the date as 14 Feb 65, probably a syndication date.] In ‘The Bet That Created a Future Industry’, a recent item on the web [23 March 2008], a viewer remembered details of the plot and cast:

“….this episode [told of an event that] settled one of the great mysteries of the animal kingdom and created the name and reputation of one of America’s best remembered photographers – and began a thread that helped lead to the development of an industry now centered in California.

Hedley Mattingly played Muybridge

[British-born actor] Hedley Mattingly (later District Officer Hedley on Daktari) plays the photographer. He is at a local race course one day with his wife, a family acquaintance, and several important figures including California’s governor (it is 1873) Leland Stanford (Harry Holcombe). Stanford is watching his horse race a friend’s, and they start discussing the beauty of the animals, and the grace with which the horses go around the track.  Stanford wondered if the horses ever had all four hoofs off the ground at the same time. His friend [Charles Cropper played “MacCrellish”] says he did not think it was possible: horses require two of their legs to be on the ground at one point of time while the others rise. It is necessary for their balance. But Stanford felt it was possible. He had run, and occasionally both of his legs were off the ground. Why not a horse.

Leland Stanford was played by Harry Holcombe (The Minister in The Graduate)

But how to find out? It was decided after the wager on this problem ($25,000.00 – a big sum of money now but more so then) to have the photographer try to photograph a horse in gallop. He was appalled at this assignment, but agreed to do it. After all, Stanford was the Governor of California.

Diane Brewster played Flora.

Diane Brewster played Flora. Ironically, given the Flora/Muybridge age difference, this Photoplay cover asks: “Why do they marry older men?” (Diane Brewster played doomed wife Helen Kimble in The Fugitive tv series.)

The story follows the photographer’s experiments with cameras, and the false ends many ideas lead to. But there is a second story told (though from what I recall bowdlerized). The photographer’s wife Flora (Diane Brewster), was having an affair with a family acquaintance David Neal (Lew Brown). This comes to the photographer’s attention, and complicates his search for an answer to the question.

Lew Brown as 'David Neal'

Lew Brown played ‘David Neal’ – the name given to the ‘family acquaintance’ (in real life, Harry Larkyns).  (Lew Brown played Andy Coe in 21 episodes of Gunsmoke)

In the end the photographer set up cameras worked by trip wires all over the race course. Stanford’s horse ran down the course, and all the pictures were developed. And sure enough they showed the horse does have all four hoofs off the ground when the horse is galloping. Stanford won the bet.

To prove that the pictures were not doctored, the photographer created a machine that flicked their images on a screen in order to show the horse in gallop down the track. The device, a zoopraxiscope (I believe that is how it is spelled) was the world’s first motion picture camera [projector]. Stanford congratulates the photographer, who was Eadward [sic] Muybridge, and said he showed that pictures could be made to move.

The romance also was ended, but in the episode I don’t think they went into how it was ended. Muybridge is unique – he is remembered for his remarkable slow motion studies of men and animals, and he is recalled as one of the fathers of motion pictures (Edison, while working on his camera in the 1890s, met with Muybridge to check out his “rival” only to find that Muybridge had no further desire to develop motion pictures). But Muybridge is also one of the few actual killers honored by the U.S. Government by a postage stamp. You see, he killed his wife’s lover (as Congressman Daniel E. Sickels did in 1859). And like Sickels he was acquitted by the notorious “unwritten law” about killing adulterers threatening one’s marriage. That part I don’t recall was in the episode – Muybridge’s violent act occurred shortly after the bet was settled.

Aside from that odd postscript the episode kept to the story quite well. And it was memorable enough to remain on this viewer’s mind some forty years after seeing it.” [theowinthrop on IMDb]

On 4 April 1965 the Chicago Tribune reported: “Actor Reagan Sees a Happy Future … No one knows for sure what the future holds for Ronald Reagan, Illinois born actor, tv host, performer, and a battler for the freedoms intended us by the founders of this nation [it says here]. He may continue as host and sometime star of Death Valley Days, a series with emphasis on the American Heritage and dramatizing footnotes on American history…..[etc.]

Yeah, what did become of him?

Another reviewer explains why Reagan soon left the series:

“Because he announced his candidacy on January 1, 1966, Death Valley Days aired prior to – and during – Reagan’s gubernatorial run. His opponent (the sitting governor) felt that weekly TV exposure gave Reagan an unfair advantage. As a result, California stations were forced to drop the series to conform with equal time laws.” [‘Ronald Reagan on TV’ by Billy Ingram – See also: ‘Reagan Out as Host of Death Valley Days’, LA Times 10 January 1966]

So while telling the story of one Governor of California, Reagan was about to become another.

Sadly I have so far been unable to find any stills from the Muybridge-Stanford episode, but it definitely still exists – in fact, it’s available on DVD. The one tiny problem is that it’s part of a rather large DVD Box Set – all 558 episodes of the series (1952-1975). The set is sold by TV-DVD – though what kind of lifestyle would one have watching that lot (18 seasons, 46 DVDs) ?

I’ll settle for reading the plot given on :

“Two men make a $25,000 bet which leads a young photographer to create a new art form — the movies.”

Muybridge photographs: Swann Auction today

Mills Seminary

Swann Auction: The Stephen L. White Collection and Fine Photographs Tuesday March 23rd

Sale 2208 Lot 54

MUYBRIDGE, EADWEARD (1830-1904) “Mills Seminary, Seminary Park, Alameda Co., Cal.”
Description: MUYBRIDGE, EADWEARD (1830-1904)
“Mills Seminary, Seminary Park, Alameda Co., Cal.” Mammoth albumen print, 15×21 1/4 (38.1×54 cm.), with Muybridge’s credit, the title, publisher’s information and notations printed on mount recto. 1873

Estimated Price: $10,000 – $15,000

Notes: The publishers are Bradley Eldridge, Rulofson, San Francisco. The other notations read, “Compliments J.O. Eldridge.”
Formerly in the collection of a Mills College Trustee; acquired from a private Denver dealer in 1990.
The Photograph and the American Dream 1840-1940, 50.
Former missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills purchased the seminary in 1865 and moved its location to its present site in the Oakland foothills, changing its name to Mills Seminary. Mills Hall was built in 1871, and the young ladies who resided there ate vegetables from the school’s garden and drank milk from the school’s cow. Muybridge’s photograph shows the women of Mills Seminary on the lawn in front of Mills Hall, which remains a landmark building on the campus today. Mills Hall, an Italianate/Second Empire building by Samuel Bugbee and Sons, is now at the center of the campus. Much of the lush landscaping was the result of Dr. Cyrus Mills’s interest in horticulture, and provides the backdrop for an eclectic collection of buildings representing works by many of the region’s notable architects and more than a century of Bay Area architecture.

Sale 2208 Lot 10

Thirteen-part panorama of San Francisco, California. Toned silver prints (13), each approximately 18×15 inches (45.7×38.1 cm.), total size measuring approximately 195 inches (495 cm.) in length, flush mounted, each framed in lucite. 1878; printed 1973
Estimate $4,000-6,000

Acquired from a Santa Barbara, CA bookseller.
The Photograph and the American Dream 1840-1940, 170.
This panorama, which is comprised of 13 separate images, is one of the most precise visual records of San Francisco before the decimating earthquake of 1906. Muybridge’s construction of the panorama spawned his interest in progressive motion and sequential imaging, laying the groundwork for the stop-motion photographs that Muybridge would produce later in his career. The panorama he produced a year earlier, in 1877, consisted of 11 panels.

Sale 2208 Lot 60

Author’s Edition, Animal Locomotion
“Animal Locomotion (An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements).” With 21 plates depicting wrestlers, running and jumping horses, a lion, a bird in flight, walking and jumping men, a topless woman jumping rope, a nude man swinging a baseball bat and others. Collotype plates, size ranging from approximately 8 3/4×11 3/4 to 5 1/2×17 1/2 inches; sheet size 18×23 1/2 inches, on the two-toned paper, each with Muybridge’s copyright, title, date, plate number and “Author’s Edition” printed on recto; with an inscription by Muybridge, in pencil, on the title page. Atlas folio, gilt-lettered leather label, boards. 1872-1885; printed 1887
Estimate $15,000-20,000

The inscription reads, “With the warm esteem of The Author 31 March 1890.”
Acquired from a California collector via a private sale in 2008.
This Author’s Edition, published under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, represents a collection of some of the most dynamic images from Muybridge’s series. Each Author’s Edition contains a unique selection of images and quantity of plates.

Sale 2208 Lot 59

Self-portrait showing movements from “Animal Locomotion.” Collotype, 8 1/4×15 inches (21×38.1 cm.), with Muybridge’s printed credit, title, date and plate number on the two-toned paper recto. 1887
Estimate $3,000-4,500

Acquired from Jo Tartt, Washington, D.C. in 1990.
The Photograph and the American Dream 1840-1940, 36.

Zoopraxiscope – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Peta Cook with Zoopraxiscope lens

Kingston Curator leaves for Washington today. Latest News from the Royal Borough of Kingston website:

Kingston Museum’s most famous artefact is being flown across the Atlantic as it returns to its country of origin for the first time in more than 100 years.

Created by Eadward Muybridge in 1879 the zoopraxiscope is considered to be the first ever moving image projector. Although built in the United States, where Muybridge spent much of his working life, the Zoopraxiscope, along with nearly 3,000 other items were bequeathed to Kingston Museum when he died.

This fascinating device is now being transported to the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, for a major exhibition on the photography pioneer’s work.

Peta Cook, Curator of Kingston Museum, will be flying to Washington to ensure that the valuable artefact not only arrives safely but is re-assembled correctly.

She said:

“A lot of Muybridge’s ground breaking work took place in the United States so a lot of people do not realise that he was born, and died, in Kingston Upon Thames. I am extremely proud to be part of this momentous occasion, overseeing the return, albeit temporarily, of this historic device to its original home for the first time in more than a century.”

Eadweard Muybridge was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1830 but moved away to America in 1852.  He came back to live in Kingston in the 1890s and when he died in 1904 he bequeathed his equipment and prints to Kingston Museum.

Peta said:

“This historic journey marks the start of an exciting year for Kingston Museum and Muybridge. While we are excited to be lending the Zoopraxiscope to the US, British fans will not have to wait long for its return as the exhibition will be coming to the Tate Britain in September … with the Zoopraxiscope and other items on loan to the Tate, it has given us the opportunity to exhibit parts of Muybridge’s collection that have not been since the 1890s.”

Philip Brookman, Chief Curator and Head of Research at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, said:

“The importance of the Eadweard Muybridge collections at the Kingston Museum should not be underestimated. This is one of the most significant collections of Muybridge’s art and related materials in the world. The various materials left to the Borough of Kingston by Muybridge at the end of his life together help paint an intricate and personal picture of Muybridge and his art. This collection has immense value as a reference for study and as an inspiration for artists, scientists, cultural theorists, and the general public.”

See also:

Exhibitions will Project Moving Image Maestro’s Work

He was a pioneer of the moving image, a celebrated landscape photographer and innovative photographic artist. The many achievements of Eadweard Muybridge will be lauded this year on both sides of the Atlantic – in Washington DC and at Tate Britain in London.

But a truly unique element of his work will also be marked in the more modest surroundings of his home-town of Kingston upon Thames where a special exhibition, Muybridge Revolutions will be mounted, thanks to a £49,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Muybridge, who was born in the town in 1830 and died there in 1904, bequeathed nearly 3,000 objects to the local museum providing it with one of the world’s most important historic collections of pre-cinema moving image artefacts….

Starting in April, a major exhibition looking at all aspects of his work will open at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. This will transfer to Tate Britain in early September. The exhibition will contain a number of items lent by Kingston Museum but, at the same time, Kingston will open its own exhibition featuring a number of items that have never before been on public display. There will also be a complementary show at Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Gallery including work produced by contemporary artists who have been given special access to the collection.

Commenting for the Heritage Lottery Fund, Head of HLF London Sue Bowers said:

“As cinema is now exploiting the potential of digitally-enhanced and computer-generated imagery as never before, there is certain to be renewed interest in Muybridge. People will have not one but two exhibitions in London [plus the Stanley Picker Gallery exhibition] so as to learn even more of this pioneer’s amazing achievements.”

As well as developing the stop-motion photographic process, Muybridge also invented the zoopraxiscope, one of the first ever machines capable of projecting a moving image. It worked by using specially-designed glass picture discs derived from his original photographic sequences. Only 70 such discs are known to exist in the world and 67 of these are in the possession of Kingston Museum, many of which will be on display during the exhibition. The Museum also holds thousands of the inventor’s ‘magic lantern’ slides which supported his world-wide lecture tours.

Kingston Museum will launch a new schools resource pack, a series of workshops and a programme of academic lectures inspired by Muybridge’s work. The grant will also enable the museum to conserve parts of its collection as well as making more items viewable both online and in the exhibition.

Museum curator Peta Cook said:

“As Eadweard Muybridge’s enduring artistic legacy continues to be a source of inspiration for international artists, scientists and cultural theorists we wish to take this opportunity to put Muybridge, and specifically the Kingston collection, back onto the global stage. Muybridge was an exciting character whose work never fails to intrigue. He was an innovator, pioneering photographic explorer and entrepreneur who, in many different ways, changed the way his audience viewed the world.

Forming a significant part of a major development project around the Muybridge material at Kingston, this exhibition represents a pivotal point in the Museum’s on-going work to secure an exciting future for this world-class collection.”

Derek Osbourne, leader of Kingston Council, said:

“We are delighted to be sharing these wonderful exhibits with Tate Britain and farther afield in Washington. Not only are they an important part of Kingston’s heritage but also play an integral role in the development of photography and cinematography with Muybridge’s influence still making a mark on modern cinema.

As well as promoting Kingston museum on an international level we are clearly excited at the opportunity to be exhibiting parts of our collection that are being displayed for the first time. This truly will be an enthralling year for any fan of Muybridge’s work.”

ENTITY – dance (Time Out review)

Time Out: Chicago
Wayne McGregor | Random Dance: Live review

“The flickering, zoetropic image of a dog is our point of entry to ENTITY, the 2008 dance London’s Wayne McGregor made in collaboration with his company. The pooch is running at a full clip and at the limit of its range of motion, but its endurance is artificial: The grainy projection is of a single triumphant stride repeatedly looped….. McGregor‘s trademark style is a quicksilver tangle of absurdly facile limbs, coolly wrapped in chic design and selling sex with an enormous brain. References to the world outside of concert dance abound—Muybridge’s photographic proof of unsupported transit, the golden ratio, white tank tops dashed with the black stains of a sequencing gel—but they rest on the movement like eyeglasses on a naughty librarian.”

[Animation from photos titled “Maggie galloping” by Eadweard Muybridge, circa 1887]

Rick Doble – computer artist

Following on from my recent item about early Muybridge web pages, for this posting we have details of photographer and computer artist Rick Doble, who posted his Muybridge-related artworks on the web from 1997. From 1992 Doble had exhibited computer colourized and manipulated images based on Animal Locomotion in various galleries (having worked on creating the necessary programs since 1988).

From the digital exhibit at the North Gallery at the Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, NC (1995)
An exhibiting photographer for 25 years, Rick Doble decided to rework the classic photographs of Eadweard Muybridge from the “Human and Animal Locomotion” series (1887). Doble wanted to create images that were at the same time photographic, painterly and computerized; formal and unposed; 100 years old and modern.
The “Woman in Motion” exhibit is both a departure and a consolidation of Doble’s skills. It combines his experience with historic photographs as Director of the Durham Historic Photographic Archives Project along with years of computer programing and a lifelong interest in painting.
Writing half of the software himself for this show, Doble wanted to become intimately involved in all aspects of creating computer imagery rather than simply using commercial software.
Pictures from the “Woman in Motion” series have been reproduced in color in Sanskrit, a magazine published by UNC- Charlotte, and were considered in the final selection for the Competition for North American  Artists by the Museum of Modern Art of Miami.
A  North Carolina citizen for over 30 years, Rick Doble received a Masters Degree in Communications from the Dept. of  Radio, TV, and Motion Pictures at UNC-Chapel  Hill in 1975.

His early web pages (c.1997) include the information:

I  do not usually comment on people’s reactions to my work, but with the  “Woman in Motion” series I have been surprised by the range and intensity of viewers’ reactions.

A nationally known potter told me she dreamt about my pictures the night after she saw them, as did a nationally known glassblower. A local painter said she could clearly visualize every image of mine from this series that she had ever seen. On the other hand, the director of a museum at a southern college disliked them intensely.
Generally people with painting, craft, fine art and art history backgrounds have liked them. However, people with computer, or photography, or academic backgrounds
have disliked them. I rarely get a neutral response.
I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you create images for those who like your work and not for those who don’t. I also know that when I get strong positive and negative reactions, I must be doing something

These images, posted on the web by Doble in 1997 (or earlier), and what appear to be the original versions (relocated around 2000) can still be found:

The website includes one animated image “Woman Descending Stairs” :

Doble’s current site explains:

Muybridge’s work can be thought of as a scientific study — which would not be inaccurate. However, in his exploration of the human figure in motion, various frames reveal striking angles that make wonderful compositions involving the human form. To me, as a primarily candid photographer, his work when studied closely shows the best angles for natural movement, natural figures, — as none of his work is posed. I own the complete set of Muybridge books published by Dover and spent several years studying them (not an exaggeration). Later in the mid-1980s I converted a number of his shots into an early form of computer and digital photography. Using my own system (I wrote much of the software) and a cheap Radio Shack computer, I copied selected frames and then colorised them. Now that I am working with a sophisticated digital camera 25 years later, his work still echoes in many of my compositions, such as thinking in terms of a series of sequential photos (see my series above) or in taking candid shots of the human figure in motion.

Doble is the author of several books about digital photography. A wide range of his work may be seen on his current website:

I contacted him recently and Rick wrote to me:

….. now in the last ten years all that study of motion has paid off handsomely with my “Painting with Light” photographs that involve photos of motion over time (i.e. photos take with a slow shutter speeds such as 2-10 seconds). My book on “Experimental Digital Photography” (on Amazon now — available May 4) covers this aspect of photography and includes a substantial mention of Muybridge along with one of his photographic sequences.
To see these slow shutter speed images go to:

Images on this blog are reproduced by kind permission of the artist.

Further information on the early Muybridge-related work:

History of Doble’s exhibit of Muybridge digital images
[taken from webpage created c.1997]

Exhibit dates (North Gallery):
Sept 8, 1995 – Oct. 29, 1995
Printed in color, one to a page,
April, 1994,
publication of UNC-Charlotte
FINALIST –                                   1994
Sponsored by the
Museum of Modern Art of Miami
ONE MAN SHOW: WOMAN IN MOTION                1993
30 enlarged color computer images based on
the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge:
Cambron Black Gallery, Beaufort, NC
FEATURE ARTICLE                              1993
Carteret News-Times, Morehead City-Beaufort
“Artist to bring 113-year-old work
‘back to the future'”
HONORABLE MENTION                            1993
Carteret County Arts Council: Juried Show
PORTFOLIO PRESENTED                          1992
Society for Photographic Education,
Southern Chapter, Annual Convention
EXHIBIT                                      1992
Carteret Community College,
15 color computer printouts

IN PROGRESS SINCE 1988                       1988-1993
Five major programs written
in basic & assembly
to aid in digitizing
Muybridge photographs

Statement from the one man exhibit of digital imagery at the Cambron Black Gallery, Beaufort, NC (1993)

As a photographer for over 20 years, I decided in 1988 to explore the computer’s ability to work with photographic images. I wrote five major computer programs to aid me in digitizing pictures, and used these along with several commercial programs to transfer an image from a video camera, alter any of its 50,000 points (pixels), and then print it out in color. This was done on inexpensive equipment which produced a rough dot pattern that I liked for its painting-like quality.
Once I had accomplished this, I turned to the work of Eadweard  Muybridge. Being over a hundred years old, it was no longer under  copyright. His studies of human motion changed forever the way artists looked at the human body, and were instrumental in the development of modern painting  and motion pictures. They showed the continuous movement of a figure simultaneously from several  angles, each frame frozen in a split second, not artificially posed.
My goal was to redraw his figures with an artistic eye, through careful  selection and close cropping, as well as the addition of color,  background, abstraction, and mood. I wanted to create a new work, in much the same way as a musician creates a novel rendering of an older melody, or a classical composer orchestrates a piano
piece by a predecessor.
From thousands of shots I selected the few you see in this exhibit. The computer translated my video close-ups into shades of gray. I then assigned each shade of gray a color. Over several months I developed approx. 50 complete sets of colors (palettes) which I tried out on new pictures and modified. In addition I usually eliminated the lined background Muybridge had set up for reference, and sometimes added my own patterns. Occasionally I used computer techniques to abstract the figure.
These were then printed on an ink jet printer, using two different commercial printer drivers. I did this so I would have two hardcopy translations of the monitor image to choose from. I also replaced a chip in the printer to get richer colors. The final step was to make color laser copies, which both enlarged and intensified the picture. I made each one myself, modifying the color settings on the copier as needed.

On the Move: catch it while you can

Still four weeks to go until the Estorick’s (London) exhibition finishes. On the Move: Visualising Action, by Jonathan Miller, closes 18th April. (Check their website for opening times.) A mix of 19th and 20th-century paintings, drawings, linocuts, many photographic prints, and a small selection of objects including some Muybridge lantern slides (Fancy Dancing), Animal Locomotion collotypes, and several original Zoopraxiscope colour discs. Plus: a Marey photographic gun, a Marey bronze of a seagull in flight – and replica praxinoscopes, zoetrope, phenakistiscope, and thaumatrope to play with. One small quibble – the ‘Double pulley slide’ comprising the silhouette sequence of a horse, on a small glass disc, is captioned as (from  memory) not being intended for illumination or public show. In fact, this would have been used in a magic lantern (slide projector) and shown to the public on a big screen. It was sometimes known as a ‘lantern Wheel of Life’.

I was especially interested to see several photographic prints by Idris Kahn : Rising Series… After Eadweard Muybridge ‘Human and Animal Locomotion’ – manipulating Muybridge images by superimposing them, as I had not previously seen all of these. At least one other artist, Doug Keyes, has used a similar technique, but I have not seen his images. This composite technique was first used by Francis Galton for scientific purposes; he superimposed Muybridge’s galloping horse phases in 1882.

A short film about Muybridge, by Keith Hathaway, plays continuously. This semi-animates a number of Animal Locomotion images, using the lantern slide versions from the Kingston collection.

A very engaging exhibition, with excellent text by Jonathan Miller.

In the accompanying 60-page book, which does not list the individual exhibits, Jonathan Miller states: “In contrast to Muybridge – whose influence on art was largely confined to corrections of the pictorial representation of animal movement, Marey unknowingly laid the foundations for one of the most significant developments in 20th-century modernism…” A check on YouTube for Muybridge will reveal a plethora of new Muybridge-inspired pieces, mostly animations, by young artists. And the creators of many modern works to be found in galleries today – paintings, drawings, photographs, installations – cite Muybridge as their inspiration. Just as Marey influenced the artists of 20th-century modernism, Muybridge is inspiring the artists who are creating the visual media of the 21st century.

Mural, Kingston Upon Thames.

Corcoran Gallery Exhibition Details

The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, has released further details of its forthcoming exhibition HELIOS: EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE IN A TIME OF CHANGE (April 10 – July 18).

“The enormous impact of Muybridge’s photographs can be found throughout modern art, from paintings and sculptures by Thomas Eakins, Edgar Degas, Umberto Boccioni, Marcel Duchamp, and Francis Bacon, to the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix and the music video for U2’s hit song Lemon,” Philip Brookman said.

The Exhibition structure
The show will be structured in a series of thematic sections that present the chronology of Muybridge’s career, the evolution of his unique sensibility, the foundations of his experimental approach to photography, and his connections to other people and events that helped guide his work.

The sections include: Introduction: The Art of Eadweard Muybridge (1857–1887), The Infinite Landscape: Yosemite Valley and the Western Frontier (1867–1869), From California to the End of the Earth: San Francisco, Alaska, the Railroads, and the Pacific Coast (1868–1872), The Geology of Time: Yosemite and the High Sierra (1872), Stopping Time: California at the Crossroads of Perception (1872–1878), War, Murder, and the Production of Coffee: the Modoc War and the Development of Central America (1873–1875), Urban Panorama (1877–1880), The Horse in Motion (1877–1881), Motion Pictures: the Zoopraxiscope (1879–1893), Animal Locomotion (1883–1893).

The Catalogue
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, and will include essays by
Philip Brookman, Marta Braun, Corey Keller, Rebecca Solnit, and an introduction by Andy Grundberg. Published by Steidl.

Press Preview
Media are invited to a press preview for Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change on Wednesday, April 7 at 10 a.m. at the Corcoran, 500 17th St. N.W., Washington, DC. RSVP to by April 5.

Exhibition Programming
An extensive a series of cultural and educational programs inspired by Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change will begin in March. Programs include family workshops, lectures, and art classes for aspiring artists; in conjunction with the exhibition, the programs will seeks to highlight the artist’s innovations and his key role in pioneering the creative transformation of late 19th-century American culture.

Inspiration Gallery
Visitors to the exhibition will be immersed in an Inspiration Gallery at its conclusion. An electronic timeline will be presented to emphasize the remarkable environment of the 19th century. The Inspiration Gallery will provide opportunities to explore how Muybridge’s wide influence is manifested in American art today. His role as a catalyst in a technological and aesthetic revolution has continued to transform our representation of time and space. The impact of Muybridge’s influence is apparent in photographs, books, video, and installation art by selected artists, whose works will be on view in the Inspiration Gallery.

Kristin Guiter, (202) 639-1867,
Rachel Cothran, (202) 639-1813,
Media Center: