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
right.

http://www.rickdoble.net/exhibit/muypage.htm#reactions

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:

http://www.rickdoble.net/exhibit/default.htm

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

http://www.rickdoble.net/exhibit/nudstair.htm

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:

http://www.rickdoble.net/

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:

http://www.rickdoble.net/paintingwithlight

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]

MUYBRIDGE EXHIBIT
——————————————————
GREENVILLE MUSEUM OF ART EXHIBIT             1995
Exhibit dates (North Gallery):
Sept 8, 1995 – Oct. 29, 1995
2 PICTURES PUBLISHED – SANSKRIT MAGAZINE     1994
Printed in color, one to a page,
April, 1994,
publication of UNC-Charlotte
FINALIST –                                   1994
COMPETITION FOR NORTH AMERICAN ARTISTS
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

MUYBRIDGE EXHIBIT BACKGROUND
——————————————————
IN PROGRESS SINCE 1988                       1988-1993
Five major programs written
in basic & assembly
to aid in digitizing
Muybridge photographs
11 YEARS EXPERIENCE WITH COMPUTERS           1983-1993

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

MUYBRIDGE REVISIONED
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 pr@corcoran.org 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.

PR CONTACT:
Kristin Guiter, (202) 639-1867, kguiter@corcoran.org
Rachel Cothran, (202) 639-1813, rcothran@corcoran.org
Media Center: http://www.corcoran.org/press

Excavating Muybridge on the Web

Muybridge and his work have appeared on the web from the first days of wide public access. About a year ago I posted a blog entry entitled Way Back on the Web. Here’s an update.

There are currently (March 2010) around 250 million websites worldwide. In the autumn of 1995, there were something like 50,000 – including at least three (accepting my definition of web site) dedicated to Muybridge.

Firstly, how do we define a ‘website’ ? For the purposes of this initial investigation, let’s say – several web pages about one specific subject under a suitable title, hyperlinked together. So it wouldn’t need its own URL, but would be more than a page or two.

Using this definition, the first Muybridge websites included the following (in no particular order).

Michael Linder’s site, online circa. autumn 1995.

Kingston Museum’s site, online before 21 October 1995.

Discovery Channel’s site, copyright 1995.

No pages from these sites were archived by the Wayback Machine prior to 1997/8, so the earliest versions of the pages have been lost. Nevertheless, much remains from updated (1997 onwards) versions, or versions archived elsewhere, to reconstruct to some extent what these sites looked like – which is what I have attempted to do here. Some pages are still ‘live’, some have been sourced from the Wayback Machine.

oo00OO00oo

Michael Linder.

(c) Michael Linder. This screen grab is from a 1999 version of the site. Reproduced here for purposes of review.

[Click on pictures to enlarge]

This site was an extraordinary achievement. In November 2008, Michael explained how it came about, in a response to a request to use the material for an educational project, from someone who’d found the pages on the web:

“This is truly amazing […] Seeing these pages, I’d long thought lost, brings back many memories…

My Muybridge project was born in the very first days of the Internet in 1995. There were no HTML page composition programs and the great debate was over whether Web images should be JPG or GIF in a world where 28.8 modems were the primary source of connectivity.

The first GIF animation program had just come out and the notion of actually animating images was as exciting then as the later arrival of streaming video and Flash movies. It seemed a miracle at the time. I’d always been interested in Muybridge’s photography for its iconic value. There was something significant to me in the gridline images of people and animals in motion that seemed a mix of poetry and science. A few years earlier, a friend had given me a book of Muybridge images and the idea of actually seeing these still sequences move once more was too intriguing to pass up.

I believe I was the first person to animate the images and put them on the Internet. I’d never before seen them actually move in any medium, though I’m at a loss to explain the reason why. After my site premiered, there was enormous interest in Muybridge’s work and I was deluged with email from filmmakers and advertising agencies looking for guidance on copyright issues. My research indicated all the images are now in the public domain.

To me, Eadweard Muybridge was a new media maker for his day, and I was inspired by the parallels in his innovative use of photography. It seemed a perfect echo of the thrill and excitement of the early days of the Internet. Were there lessons for us to learn from Muybridge’s work? That’s what I wanted to learn as I researched his life.

As new technologies came along, I applied them – just as Muybridge moved from stereopticon photography to photo journalism to panoramas and motion. The first tools that allowed stitching of panoramas allowed me to recreate what I believe would have been Muybridge’s vision from a century earlier.

The wild, adventuresome live Muybridge lived was equally fascinating and I proposed a movie about his life to the U.S. public broadcasting network, PBS. They declined, but I’m still fascinated by the idea of seeing a modern recreation of Muybridge’s galloping horse experiments. Perhaps some day…

Hope this helps, and I am so delighted that a new generation, just opening their eyes to the wonders of imaging, will have an opportunity to be exposed to this media pioneer.

Bravo!

Michael”

http://oficinamultimedia.blogs.sapo.pt/2008/11/

Animated GIFs first became usable by the public in early October 1995, with the beta release of the Netscape Navigator 2.0 browser.

(c) Michael Linder

As Michael says he was quick to adopt the new web possibilities as they became available. This included “roll your mouse over this” images, plus a rolling panorama.

With its striking graphics, suitably condensed but comprehensive and accurate text, and excellent selection of archive images, it isn’t surprising that this website won the Webby Award for Art and Design in 1997.

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Kingston Museum.

(c) Kingston University / Kingston Museum. Reproduced here for purposes of review.

http://www.kingston.ac.uk/Muybridge/muytext0.htm

The Muybridge website put together by Paul Hill at Kingston Museum was created in the summer of 1995. With no access to a scanner, the images were snapped by myself (a volunteer), from the Museum’s illustrated catalogue file cards. About 22 were used, which are listed and illustrated here:

http://www.kingston.ac.uk/Muybridge/muycapt.htm

The 35mm negative film was developed by Boots, who offered a simultaneous transfer to Photo-CD, which is how the pictures were delivered to the technician at Kingston University (name forgotten, I’m afraid) who actually made the web pages. These photographs appeared on the web pages as very grainy thumbnail GIF images, but (possibly later) were linked to bigger, though still grainy, JPG versions. By some unlikely stroke of serendipitous luck, I recently found the original flyer for the website, which is here:

http://www.stephenherbert.co.uk/webfax.htm

It is from a fax copy dated 21st October 1995. I also found an accompanying letter [remember letters?] (dated 21.10.1995), in which Paul states:

“…I understand from the University that the number of visits can be counted in their hundreds and we have received at least one enquiry about the collection at Kingston from some French researchers who saw us on the net.
It works very well as a presentation, but I am finding it hard to encourage other institutions to link up with us by hypertext etc, because I don’t have constant access to a server myself. So, if you know anyone…..”

I’m fairly sure that the website went online in September, or possibly some weeks earlier. I wasn’t online myself at that time, and saw the website on one occasion only, at the University I believe, before finally going online at home some time in 1996.

Very basic, with no design aspirations, but a useful start for someone searching for Muybridge on the web in 1995/6.

oo00OO00oo

Discovery

(c) Helfand & Drenttel / Winterhouse / Discovery Communications. Reproduced here for purposes of review.

Apparently created (written? and designed) by website design pioneers Jessica Helfand & William Drenttel (Discovery Channel Online, c.1995). An early version of their website explains:

“Launched in 1994, Discovery Channel Online was designed to evolve in complexity as the (then-new) technology grew to support it. Combining daily story postings, programming highlights, interactive games and great storytelling (a profile on Edweard [sic] Muybridge, for example) it was designed to embrace new narrative opportunities: shorter, non-scrolling text screens, hyperlinks edited for brevity and impact, and images optimized for fast downloading.”

http://www.jhwd.com/indiscov2.html

More on these designers on this blog:

http://jessicahelfand.blogspot.com/

Also involved in some way, apparently, was designer Anne Hyun Jin Kim (Anne Kim Design). The site has a 1995 copyright notice. Most of the content is still accessible, archived by Anne Kim. (I have been unable to contact Anne Kim.)

http://annekim.net/graphicdesign/web/images/muy/lateryearsslide2.html

The site includes several very small animated GIFs, from Animal Locomotion sequences.

According to an unrelated website of June 1996, an animated GIF of 186K would take 3 to 6 minutes to download on a 28.8 modem. (The animated GIFs on the Discovery website were each 56kb.)

So the Linder website, and the Discovery website, both apparently included animated GIFs from the start, which would most likely date them after early October 1995 (when the first commercial browser to display animated GIFs, a beta version of Netscape 2, was launched).

The Kingston website, which did not include animations, was probably online before October 1995. Paul Hill noted in his letter to me – 21 October – that he had been on holiday for a while; and the fact that a first report on visitors to the site had already been received from the University, suggests that the site probably went online before October.

Although I’m not trying to start a “who was first” debate (they tend to get boring), it seems possible that:

*  Kingston’s site was the first to go online, and the first by a non-profit organization.

* Either Michael Linder’s site (the first by a private individual) or the Discovery site (the first by a commercial organization) was the first to include animations.

Of course it may be that I’m way off beam here, and another site or sites got there first but the evidence hasn’t yet appeared, although this seems unlikely.

And finally (emulating that postscript tagged onto the end of American Graffiti, giving potted destinies of the main characters…..)

I have been unable to establish when the Discovery Channel’s Muybridge website went offline (with its original server – much of it is still archived elsewhere), but it does not appear to have ever been updated.

Michael Linder’s site apparently developed over two or three years, but seems not to have been updated after 1999.

Kingston University’s site remained essentially as it was first set up, but added some links around 2000, including a link to its successor, a set of Muybridge pages at the Kingston Museum webpage section of Kingston Borough Council’s website.

Stephen Herbert

PPS:

Maybe animated Muybridge GIF files are older than we think…..

http://www.zzzptm.com/ani1.html

[Corrections, additional information, comments, welcomed]

The Compleat Eadweard Muybridge

This blog is but a whimsical trifle of random trivia compared with the vast and organized resources available on the main website, The Compleat Muybridge … which isn’t – of course – complete, but strives to be a comprehensive guide to all that is Muybridge and his work. Go to the main page, or pick and choose from the subjects below.

Animations of Muybridge plates from Animal Locomotion

Articles from the past century

Artworks, new (links) inspired by Muybridge’s work

Artworks, new (on COMPLEAT MUYBRIDGE site)

Biography from several sources

Blog 2007

Blog 2008

Blog 2009

Books Extensive bibliography, with covers

CDs (audio) – an opera even!

CD-rom early interactive

Chronology Select year range from Home Page, r/h panel.

Chronology-Lite (Main events)

Comicbooks featuring the man

Conferences (past) an illustrated list

Digital motion experiments and artworks (modern)

DVDs listed

Exhibitions (on COMPLEAT MUYBIDGE site)

Exhibitions (online links), Festivals and Awards

Film experiments and artworks (modern)

Links to many Muybridge-related subjects on the web

Memorials plaques, statues, and postage stamp.

Modern products – design portfolios, and for sale

Movies featuring Muybridge’s work

Murals (exterior)

Museum collections and exhibitions worldwide

Music – that opera again!

Online articles and reviews (links)

Paintings and drawings inspired by Muybridge’s sequence photography

Philately 1996 US Post Office issue

Photographic experiments and artworks (modern)

Photographs (EJM’s) List of formats/subjects, plus links

Portraits (studio photographs) of Muybridge

References (to sources used in the Chronology)

Screenplays – more to be added

Search The Compleat Muybridge

Texts (transcribed from news items)

Theatrical works worldwide

Then and now,  photographs (Central America)

Timeline – Muybridge, Photography, Moving images, Inventions, World Events

Videographic motion experiments and artworks (modern)

YouTube selected videos

Zoopraxiscope – the machine explained

Zoopraxiscope motion discs described

Go to main page and explore!

IMAGE

Click on image to enlarge.

Now online – many issues of IMAGE, Journal of the George Eastman House.  Free pdf file download. Muybridge-related articles are:

The Horse in Gallop, Vol.1., No.4, April 1952
In 1862 Lieutenant L. Wachter of the French Army sketched ten pictures of a horse in gallop, for the phenakistiscope. The writer states: “Wachter’s hand drawn pictures correspond exactly to Muybridge’s photographs…” which is debatable, though they are more accurate than other attempts of the period.
http://image.eastmanhouse.org/node/4

Eadweard Muybridge and the Motion Picture [on Contents page, but article title is actually…] Muybridge and the First Motion Picture. THE HORSE IN THE HISTORY OF THE MOVIES, by Beaumont Newhall, Vol.5., No.1., January 1956 http://image.eastmanhouse.org/node/34

The Human Figure in Motion (book review of the 1955 Dover selection, by Gerda Peterich), Vol.5., No.3, March 1956
Especially useful in noting the various differences in captions, from different sources, used for the same Animal Locomotion plates, and also the rather startling fact that some plates were trimmed of some frames: “To omit either the start or the post climax of a movement seems to be taking a liberty.”
http://image.eastmanhouse.org/node/36

Animals in Motion (book review of the 1957 Dover selection, by Beaumont Newhall), Vol. 7., No. 2, February 1958
Complains again that the available sources of information, in Muybridge’s notebook for instance, have not been used. However, “The pictures are still a revelation […] Especially the flight of birds seems to us a triumph of the zoopraxiscopic camera.”
http://image.eastmanhouse.org/node/55

(Thanks Luke.)