Helios: News and Reviews

Photo by Francis Chung

Review of “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change” at the Corcoran
By Blake Gopnik
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010; 12:00 PM

“Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change,” a show that opens Saturday at the Corcoran — it’s one of the gallery’s most significant events in years — is full of fabulous art that’s a pleasure to see. The very best of this work, the celebrated action shots of animals and people that Muybridge took in the 1880s, also raises an intriguing question: Who should take credit for it?


Corcoran waives entry fee temporarily to make up for closing exhibit early

By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010

Visitors who came to the Corcoran Gallery of Art on Thursday expecting to see the exhibition “Turner to Cézanne: Masterpieces From the Davies Collection, National Museum Wales” got two surprises. First, the exhibition was closed. Second, to make up for the sudden closure, the Corcoran waived its usual admission fees.

“We are trying to satisfy those who came by offering free admission,” said Kristin Guiter, the gallery’s director of public relations. The no-charge policy continues Friday. On Saturday, the museum will charge its regular fee. (Admission to the gallery is usually $8 to $10, with children younger than 12 free.) And Sunday was already scheduled as a free day with a full slate of family activities.

The decision to shutter the show before its April 25 closing date was made late Tuesday night because of malfunctioning air handlers and a notification from the General Services Administration that it was temporarily shutting its steam system in parts of downtown this weekend.

The remainder of the air-handling systems in the Corcoran were not affected by the malfunctions in the three galleries, Guiter said, and the Corcoran is planning to open “Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change” as scheduled Saturday.


Preview: Eadweard Muybridge @ The Corcoran
April 9, 2010 by Francis Chung
While it doesn’t break any entirely new scholarly ground on Muybridge’s already well-studied oeuvre, the Corcoran show effectively conveys the considerable breadth of the photographer’s output, with ample attention paid to his less-renowned early efforts.  A British-born immigrant to the United States, Muybridge started out as a landscape photographer in the American West, for a time publishing his work under the pseudonym “Helios.”  The pantheistic connotations of this moniker underscore the Romantic tendencies of the dramatic, sometimes stunningly beautiful images Muybridge captured at locations such as Yosemite Valley, Alaska, and the Pacific coastline.


Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change is on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art from April 10 to July 18, 2010.

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Corcoran Muybridge Lectures

The first lectures to tie in to the exhibition Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, are:

Muybridge and the Evolution of Landscapes

Wednesday, April 07, 2010    7 p.m.

A fascination with the American West inspired Eadweard Muybridge in the 19th century, as well as acclaimed photographer Mark Klett and celebrated essayist and noted cultural historian Rebecca Solnit in the 20th and 21st. To complement the exhibition Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, Klett and Solnit discuss their collaborations on projects that probe and re-examine Muybridge’s photographic explorations of the changing physical and cultural landscapes of the West.

The Places In Between: Arachne Aerial Arts
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 7 p.m.

Arachne Aerial Arts takes Cirque du Soleil’s astonishing acrobatics and makes them relevant. –Kim Rinehimer, Washington City Paper

In the spirit of Muybridge’s studies of motion and bodies in space, Washington’s award-winning acrobatic duo, Arachne Aerial Arts, returns to the Corcoran’s atrium for an evening of breathtaking suspended artistry. Combining the drama of aerial acrobatics with the artistry of dance, they perform selections from their new full-length show, The Places In Between, which conjures places real and imagined, and the spaces in between. The company is joined by Washington’s dynamic chamber ensemble, Kenyon Piano Quartet.

Members: $35.00 Public: $40.00

Interpreting Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 7 p.m.

While best known for his studies of human and animal locomotion, 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge was also an innovative landscape artist and pioneer of documentary subjects. The enormous impact of his photographs can be measured throughout the course of modern art, from paintings and sculptures by Marcel Duchamp and Francis Bacon, to the 1999 blockbuster film The Matrix. Join Philip Brookman, the Corcoran’s chief curator and head of research, and curator of the exhibition, as he discusses Muybridge’s life and career, the artist’s relationship with the Corcoran, and the incredible relevance of his artwork today.

Members: $0.00 Public: $10.00

Corcoran Gallery of Art

500 Seventeenth Street NW Washington, DC 20006
Gallery:  (202) 639-1700
College: (202) 639-1800

More here:


What is  Muy Blog?

Every Wandering Cloud: palimpsest, layering, collage

Every Wandering Cloud

Every Wandering Cloud
Tom Kalin
2005, 7 min, color, sound

Text: Excerpts from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” Oscar Wilde (1896). Excerpt from “Letter From The Wandering Jew,” Alfred Chester. Stolen Images: “Gold Diggers of 1933-A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner” (1887). Animation: Derived from Eadweard Muybridge, “Complete Human and Animal Locomotion” (1887). Featuring: Joan Blondell, Craig Paul. Music: “Posed by Models” by Young Marble Giants. “Glass Onion” by The Beatles. “From the Hame Hill” by Brian Eno.


Tom Kalin. A Presentation of Three Films. 2009 1/6
Public open lecture for the students and faculty of the European Graduate School EGS Media and Communication Studies department program Saas-Fee Switzerland.

One of six videos in which experimental filmmaker Tom Kalin talks about his work. In this section he shows Every Wandering Cloud (2005), a sophisticated multi-layered film exploring palimpsest, layering, and collage – and  which includes Eadweard Muybridge’s work, the 1910 film A Day in The Life of the Coal Miner, Hollywood actress Joan Blondell, text from Oscar Wilde, and a complex soundtrack.

The rotoscoping of Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion sequences by animators and art students is a common theme on YouTube. This film takes such work to a new level. Kalin’s consideration of the repeating motion of pre-cinematic animations as ‘the prison of the loops’ – characters destined to be trapped in their  short life-movements forever – superimposed with text verses from Wilde’s “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” has an entrancing quality.

“Every Wandering Cloud is a meditation on themes of freedom and imprisonment. The tape juxtaposes an eclectic array of archival and contemporary imagery, including documentary footage and original super-8 and digital video.

By combining images from both past and present, Every Wandering Cloud creates an imaginary dialogue between the worlds of the late 19th/early 20th centuries and today. In his deceptively simple ballad, Wilde explored the profound personal and social consequences of being a prisoner. Every Wandering Cloud similarly moves between public and private worlds. Every Wandering Cloud premiered at MoMA in January 2005, part of the PREMIERES series that marked the museum’s re-opening in Manhattan.”

Watch a short sequence here. (Click on video camera next to film title.)

Tom Kalin is an artist, director and producer living in New York City. Much of his work is influenced by his early years as an AIDS activist and his participation in Gran Fury and Act Up in the 1980s, and his work has significantly changed the dialogue regarding portrayals of gay sexuality in film, literature and art. His films have won international acclaim, garnering awards in Berlin, Sundance, New York and elsewhere. His two commercial films, Swoon (1992) and Savage Grace (2007) have also won international acclaim.

Every Wandering Cloud. Kalin's lecture presentation

Kalin’s works however are not limited solely to film. Indeed, over two decades his work has investigated and probed both photography and film, literature and performance art. As a member of Gran Fury, Kalin took part, collaboratively, in the 1991 Venice Biennial and is held in the permanent collections at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and MOMA in New York. In addition to directing films, Kalin has also been known for his daring production credits, including Go Fish (1994) and I Shot Andy Warhol (1996). Kalin is professor of literature at the European Graduate School and since 1996 has been an associate professor of film at Columbia University.

Posted by Stephen Herbert

What is  Muy Blog?

Searching for web pages, Dead or Alive

If you find a dead link on this blog, or on The Compleat Muybridge website, or anywhere else, it may be possible to find that ‘extinct’ web page by using the Wayback Machine.


This rather large storage device (located somewhere in the real world) has archived web pages since 1996.

So…. simply go to the Wayback page, paste in the web address that you’re looking for, and see what happens. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, you will be shown a chart listing dates. Click on one, and you will be ‘taken back’ to that web page on that date. It takes six months or more for a web page to be archived by the Machine, some sites block this archiving, and some pages are unavailable for other reasons. But it’s always worth trying. If a particular web address doesn’t work, try snipping off the last bit, leaving just the home page URL.

There is no word search facility so you will need to know the URL (web address, either of the site, or the specific page.) That’s why, on this blog and associated website, I am making most link addresses visible. It’s then easy to cut and paste the web address into the Wayback search box. (When doing this, make sure you don’t duplicate the http:// bit.)

If searching for other ‘lost websites’ that you know were once on the web, and you don’t know the URL, you could try to Google Search someone else’s link to a particular site (which will of course be dead), check the html text of their page (VIEW SOURCE on your computer top bar), try to find the URL you need, which will be somewhere amongst the code, and copy it. Then use the Wayback Machine.

Using this method, I was able to piece together the history of the first Muybridge web pages, and find a disappeared list of Muybridge’s models.

Searching on this blog

You can search Muy Blog for specific terms using the search box on the right. You can also locate different subject posts on Muy Blog by searching by Category (New Photography, Painting and Drawing, etc) also in the right-hand column.

Searching The Compleat Muybridge

You can search The Compleat Muybridge from the search box, accessible from the front page. There’s also a Contents page.

If you’re new to Muybridge, it’s probably best to start with the biography. There’s also a basic chronology, from which you can graduate to the more detailed chronology if necessary.

Failing everything else, an email to me: s-herbert[AT]easynet.co.uk with your question could perhaps produce results.

Stephen Herbert

What is Muy Blog?

Muybridge-inspired Audio

The Five Lives of Helios

The Five Lives of Helios

performed at UCSD’s Conrad Prebys Music Center: March 11th, 2010. (Percussionist Ross Karre.)

And now for some modern audio pieces, with which I am well outside my comfort zone.

“The Five Lives of Helios is a work inspired by the life and work of the late 19th century photographer Edward Muybridge (who used many pseudonyms, including Helios). The piece functions as a wordless oration of Muybridge’s work as a pivotal figure in the photograph’s ability to stop time (with increasing shutter speed) and liberate time (via the horse motion sequences presented by the zoopraxiscope, magic lantern, and, eventually, cinema). In this piece, the bass drum serves as a development bath where a sonic, instead of chemical, fixing process distills Muybridge’s story.”


Too much ‘steam train’ and not enough horses’ hooves, it seems to me. Bring on the coconut shells.


Proof: Galloping in Sound by Floor Van.

“Proof is a piece inspired by the work of Eadweard Muybridge (1830—1904), an eccentric English photographer, known primarily for his work with use of multiple cameras to capture motion.”


What do YOU think? Please leave a comment below.

And for more Muybridge music, check out the links for Philip Glass’s The Photographer, from here:


Stephen Herbert

What is Muy Blog?

The Muybridge Portal Project

Zoopraxiscope disc, c.1893. (c) Kingston Museum

Kingston Museum News
Issue 61 April 2010

“The Eadweard Muybridge web portal project, running between Kingston Museum and Kingston University for six months, is well on the way to completion in late May this year – with discussions underway about a possible public launch at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank.

The primary aim of the portal project is to draw together information on all public Muybridge collections worldwide – 125 at our current reckoning! With all institutions contacted and the help of the Kingston University web team and Kingston Museum volunteer, Keith Hathaway, we are now in the process of constructing a database and populating this with information to be uploaded onto the web, so things are progressing extremely well.

In addition to collections information, the website will also provide a valuable introduction to Eadweard Muybridge in the context of the endlessly expanding, accelerating and changing socio-political world he inhabited in the 19th Century. Comparative timelines, 19th-century maps and narrated bodies of Muybridge’s photographic work will therefore comprise the remainder of the website.

The end of the project will not only mean a public and press launch on 21st May but also a public symposium. Here several well known speakers will discuss theoretical and practical issues which have arisen from the project surrounding the idea of representing history for a contemporary audience.”

[Posted here by Stephen Herbert]

In the meantime, check out my expanding website The Compleat Muybridge.

Paul Merton’s Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema

Paul Merton with one of the later Muybridge sequences, animated. (c) BBC.

In 2000 I was asked to create a mutoscope installation for the National Gallery exhibition Telling Time. I converted an 1890s Edison kinetoscope film sequence of dancer Annabelle into paper prints mounted on a belt (tedious and time consuming work), and reduced the ‘mechanism’ to a bare minimum – a roller with a handle. This arrangement ran for three months or so in the exhibition, alongside collotypes from Animal Locomotion, before the picture belt was donated to Hove Museum as part of their interactive display. I was pleased to see in a scene from Paul Merton’s Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema, that a decade later, Annabelle is still dancing at Hove. Which is a self-centred link to the programme, but this is my blog after all. With its excellent displays Hove Museum has become a natural home for investigating such subjects. It was also pleasing to see Eric Lange and Serge Bromberg of the French company Lobster Films, so important to the preservation and distribution of early cinema, being involved in the production.

This programme was an example of how, with the passage of time, exact factual details become rounded off and smoothed out, supposedly to make access to the information easier for the general viewer. The unprovenanced camera that Hove Museum bought at auction some years ago because it was the type used by George Albert Smith, and retained the circular type of mask that Smith used, has now become ‘the camera specifically built for Smith’. Merton tells an audience that yes, films had been in existence before being projected onto a screen, you turned a handle on a peepbox machine – when in fact the pre-projection Edison Kinetoscope peepshow was electrically driven, and the handcranked Mutoscope appeared only after the first screenings, which is a bit inconvenient from a simplified-history point of view. The film of a gardener being tricked by a boy, L’Arroseur Arrosé, (aka le Jardinier) was not, I’m fairly sure, the version shown at the first Lumière shows, but a remake. We can forgive that, as the film has a confusing history. (Nevertheless if anyone tried showing the remake of Stagecoach as the John Wayne version all hell would break loose.) Oh, and we were told that the Lumières’ gave their very first demonstration of the Cinématographe in December 1895 (not). And, restricting coverage to European cinema ensured that nothing need be said about the awkward fact that there had been film screenings in the USA prior to this. Chronology here:


The Harry Larkyns shooting. (c) BBC.

And Muybridge? Well he’s in there, including modern animations of horse sequences (the Palo Alto one is 1878/79, not 1877), but with nothing about how he made images move before celluloid film. Well all right, Zoopraxiscope is a bit of a jawbreaker, but glass picture discs could have been mentioned; it’s only three words. And the ‘zoetrope’ shown was a praxinoscope. (Do nature programmes get confused between goats and sheep?) Does any of this matter? I don’t know, perhaps I’m too close to the subject. The Larkyns affair is there of course, including a special acted bit of a man being shot and falling over. (But then who hasn’t arranged a re-enactment of the Larkyns shooting some time in their lives? I know I have…..)

Hard to please, ain’t I? But picky reservations aside, these programmes are valuable. To quote from The Bioscope, the premier website for silent film aficionados,


“Such programmes – which are rare enough in themselves – not only open up largely hidden films to new audiences, but should be a lesson to those of us who may know these films well to see them in a fresh light, not least as a television commissioner sees them.”

I enjoyed the excellent quality of the prints, especially the tinted examples, and Paul Merton has a very genuine interest in, and enthusiasm for, silent film material – even if his attempts to convey this to non-specialist audiences here sometimes come across as just a bit patronising, to the material as well as to the new audiences. The Paul Merton shows are part of a long tradition – I grew up with comedians Bob Monkhouse and Michael Bentine presenting silent movie clips on tv – and this one will certainly make the often amazing and frequently strange (weird and wonderful indeed) material of early (pre-WW1) cinema better known to many viewers.

BBC4 – you might just catch it on iPlayer, here:


Stephen Herbert