Time and The Times: Muybridge Sells in the 1940s

Burlington Mills

It seems that Muybridge’s galloping horses can sell anything. This Burlington Mills advertisement from 1948 explains in a sentence how Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope prompted the invention of Hollywood (how neatly these copywriters can eliminate complexities).

Soon afterwards Thomas Edison saw the machine and grew curious about applying it more widely to “moving pictures”. The results we see all around us.

The text switches quickly to the less specific, intermediate subject of “Freedom”, and then immediately from Freedom to a product that couldn’t have existed without it.

In this same climate of Freedom, Burlington Mills was free to be curious about the new man-made fiber, rayon. What were its commercial possibilities? How could it be improved? For what new uses could it be employed? Experimentation along these lines eventually brought rayon into the daily life of every person in America.  Today this same freedom is an incentive for Burlington, one of the world’s largest producers of rayon textiles, to continue to exercise its curiosity in seeking new and better uses for rayon in the future. Time 16 August 1948

G.B. Equipments

More specific to the subject of the moving image, this British advertisement is a graphic treat from the Second World War. The ad, for the GeBeScope 16mm sound film library (‘over 750 titles’) appeared in The Times (London) in 1943. But it wasn’t all about selling the idea of film rental. Thanks to Muybridge we have Cinematography, and Cinematography would be applied to “the many problems of post-war development“. Hoorah!

The antique look of the engraving is typical of the ‘nostalgia’ drawings of the 40s and 50s. Does anyone know who the artist was?

photo: The Times

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Star Wars sculptor’s second Muybridge bronze


photo: Official Star Wars Blog

A face familiar to employees of Lucasfilm’s Digital Arts Center at San Francisco’s Presidio can now be found at Lucas’s own alma-mater, USC. (Official Star Wars Blog).

Star Wars Sculptor Installs Bronze at Lucas’ Alma Mater

May 28, 2010

Cinematic innovator Eadweard Muybridge, whose bronze likeness [by sculptor Lawrence Noble] shares company with television inventor Philo T. Farnsworth, special effects pioneer Willis O’Brien, and even Jedi Master Yoda at Lucasfilm’s Presidio complex, has also been installed at the University of Southern California’s campus, famous among other things for its cinema department (of which George Lucas was a student). The Muybridge bronze comes as a gift from Lucas, who has long been a supporter of cinematic arts in education since his days at the university.


photo: Lawrence Noble's website

The statue of Muybridge (Father of Cinema) is one of three that Noble sculpted for the Letterman Digital Arts Center at the Presidio of San Francisco, to pay tribute to pioneers of the Motion Picture and Television Industries. The others are of Willis O’Brien (Father of Special Effects), and Philo T. Farnsworth (Inventor of Television). He also sculpted the Yoda Bronze, which sits on top of the Yoda Fountain.

More on The Compleat Muybridge.

and the artist’s website

Obi-wan Kenobi, by Lawrence Noble

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Unsupported Transit (and other new videos)

Thanks in part to a contest arranged by NPR (National Public Radio) in the USA, lots more Muybridge-related videos are appearing on YouTube.  The first shown here displays a most ingenious and successful light sculpture.

Unsupported Transit aka Ghost Horse
This sculpture by Michael Brown uses small mirrors with a reverse cutout of Eadweard Muybridge’s galloping horse images. Light Emitting Diodes aimed at each mirror are quickly flashed, reflecting the image of the horse onto the frosted glass face of the Bell Jar. Illuminating the horses in the correct and reflecting the images in the same place on the jar reanimates Muybridges galloping horses. For more information visit http://www.onsights.com
2004 LEDs, electronics, mirrors, vinyl, bell jar (55 x 18 x 18)

Muybridge Chess Set
Muybridge Chess Set doesn’t do much, but as an idea and graphic design it’s both amusing and accomplished.

Time Hop
Kitch and ‘cute’.

Over the Gate
A Magic Angle sculpture using a complex solid form to create shadow pictures – ingenious.

Still Beating

“The heart of animation still beats, from Muybridge to our present day.” A reflection on Muybridge and the nature of time, and very well crafted.


Frames – Muybridge  Horse Moving Through Frames. A Muybridge galloping horse completes a nostalgic still life set piece.

There are many, many more.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

HELIOS arrives!

HELIOS Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change, Philip Brookman.

The book was delivered yesterday. It looks magnificent – with a different dust jacket from that originally shown in pre-publication publicity – and at 360 pages will take a while to absorb. Now I regret more than ever not being able to get to see the exhibition in Washington (which includes exhibits that won’t make it across to Tate Britain), but this publication is a wonderful permanent record. More about the book (lots more) soon.

Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change (Hardcover)
Philip Brookman, with contributions by, Marta Braun, Corey Keller, Rebecca Solnit, Andy Grundberg.

See a brief introduction to Muybridge by Philip Brookman on Vimeo:

and a longer piece with Brookman, The pioneer of photography, on BBC World News America here:

Keeping up with developments – exhibitions, publications, symposiums, websites, artworks, videos, (even) songs – is proving to be quite a task at the moment, and the momentum is likely to be maintained throughout the summer and into the autumn. As my friend Luke McKernan has observed, this truly is The Year of Muybridge.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Eadweard Muybridge: Symposium

Following a London press launch on 21st May for the new Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities, web portal a symposium took place in NFT2, which I was able to attend. Report below (with text adapted from the Press Release).

The web portal is the result of a 6 month AHRC knowledge transfer project undertaken by Alex Reynolds and led by co-partners Fran Lloyd and Peta Cook as part of the larger ‘Muybridge in Kingston’ research project initiated by David Falkner, Stanley Picker Gallery, and Peta Cook, Curator of Kingston Museum.

Eadweard Muybridge: Re-Presenting History in the Digital Age.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Hosted by the British Film Institute, Southbank
21st May 2010, NFT2 2.00 – 5.30pm.

Critically reflecting on some of the key questions to arise from a recent AHRC funded project surrounding Eadweard Muybridge.

A section of the world map indicating Muybridge-related collections, from the Kingston University / Kingston Museum website Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities

2.00pm – 2.30pm: Introduction by Project Leaders. New portal demonstrated.

2.30pm – 3.00pm: ‘“More or Less Graceful”: Looking back at Muybridge’s Bodies’

Dr Harriet Riches Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at Kingston University, London. Dr Riches considered the legacy of Muybridge’s studies of the human figure and discussed how this might continue to inform our understanding of the representation of the body, gender and the photographic gaze in contemporary art and visual culture.

Ranging widely but focusing in particular on one image from Animal Locomotion, ‘Turning around in surprise and running away’ (also labelled my Muybridge as “Ashamed”), from Animal Locomotion, this talk explained the art history precedent for that particular pose.

3.00pm – 3.30pm: ‘Eadweard Muybridge and the Production of Mobilities’

Prof. Tim Cresswell Professor of Human Geography and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. Professor Cresswell placed the photographic enterprises of Muybridge in the context of the production of mobilities in late 19th Century United States; exploring how his images attempted to portray an abstract and disembodied notion of movement whilst being connected to and reproducing particular emergent narratives of mobility at the time. The talk discussed Muybridge’s endeavours within a general account of the role of mobility in social and cultural life.

I was especially interested in several subjects touched on briefly by Professor Cresswell, such as the current use of ‘gait recognition’ by airport security – unusual movement being a telltale sign that someone is up to no good, prompting the joke that the British Government may perhaps need a Ministry of Funny Walks; and the tracking of objects in motion by RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags, so ubiquitous on products from library books to self-checkout shop goods.

4.00pm – 4.30pm: ‘Digital Programming at the Victoria and Albert Museum’

Louise Shannon Curator, Deputy Head of Contemporary Programmes Victoria and Albert Museum and co-curator of ‘Decode’. This talk offered an introduction to digitisation in current curatorial and artistic practice by discussing the role of digital art and design within Contemporary Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum; particular points of discussion being drawn from the recent exhibition ‘Decode’.

The speaker explained some of the problems of archiving and future re-display of digital and high-tech artworks that had little or no physical presence, or those in which the artist’s intended effect requires considerable effort to set up. It strikes me that this is directly relevant to several categories of Muybridge’s works – his lantern slides are rarely shown in their intended projected form and are never shown as part of their original presentation flow with his spoken commentary – and similarly the Zoopraxiscope discs are presented as antique glass objects of beauty, but we don’t see the images carefully framed and in motion on a 10ft (or bigger) screen as Muybridge’s audiences did. Current Muybridge “moving images” are animations of an entirely different nature, of photographs that Muybridge didn’t animate.

4.30pm – 5.30pm: Panel Discussion, with selected questions from the audience. Chaired by Professor Fran Lloyd, Associate Dean of Research at the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University.

A range of intelligent questions from the audience concluded the symposium, but there was still a lot to discuss during the post-event reception.

The current Kingston Museum / Kingston University blend of archive/collections experience and academic/theoretical input is evidently working very well across the wide range of joint activities and projects emanating from Muybridge’s home town.

Following the Press event, the BBC posted a web page on Muybridge: Eadweard Muybridge: Kingston reclaims photo revolutionary

from the BBC web page


Posted here by Stephen Herbert
(Visiting Research Fellow, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University, London.)

‘Good Evening, Major’

Mr Muybridge continues to embed himself deep and wide within today’s popular culture, as evidenced by this new song from acoustic band Accordions.

Good Evening, Major‘ – music video Watch it on YouTube.

In April of 2010, the band Accordions wrote a song about Eadweard Muybridge’s murder of his wife’s lover in 1874. Shortly after the song was written, NPR publicized the first ever retrospective of Muybridge’s work in Washington D.C. at the Corcoran. They also announced a contest for videos or photos that bring Muybridge into the twenty-first century. Accordions went into the recording studio and contacted a long-time friend and collaborator Brent Aldrich, who is a video artist and photographer. This music video for the song ‘Good Evening, Major’ is the result.


Lyrics: And in a dream you were an island waves crashing just out of reach I watched you sleep. And in your sleep I heard you sighing crying a name that did not belong to me. Sparkling dew, flora and fauna– you’re vaster than views of the West. I held you best. And when I came to, thoughts of nirvana, and keeping your form in a frame, I held my breath. Pictures bled with light projecting my love with a scream– I’ll watch him fall. And I won’t feel a thing or speak his name– some major you met in the ranks, I’ll make him see (“Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge, and here is the answer to the letter you sent to my wife”) Pictures bled with light, projecting my love with a scream– I’ll watch him fall. And I won’t feel a thing or speak his name, some major you met in the ranks– I’ll make him bleed. (“Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge, and here is the answer to the letter you sent to my wife”) And I won’t feel a thing.

Benjamin Bernthal
Joseph Kilbourn
Ben Leslie
Kipp Normand
Steve Trowbridge
& often
Adam Gross
various fellow artists & musicians.


Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge in Kingston: new website

Another new website, Muybridge in Kingston, has been launched, to provide information on the exhibitions and events planned in Muybridge’s home town from this summer, and the Kingston Museum Muybridge Collection.

Muybridge in Kingston is an exciting collaborative research and development partnership between Kingston University and the Royal Borough of Kingston that is celebrating and investigating Kingston Museum’s world-class collection. This ongoing partnership aims to broaden access to, and understanding of, the collection through a programme of innovative research projects including special exhibitions, publications, web-resources, conferences, symposia and other public events.


Website sections include:

Kingston Museum – Muybridge Revolutions

18 Sept 2010 – 12 Feb 2011

Lantern slide, Kingston Museum

This exhibition focuses on arguably the rarest surviving Muybridge objects within the Kingston Museum collection, the beautiful hand-painted glass zoopraxiscope discs. Numbering nearly 70 discs, these objects comprise an astounding collection of items, which straddle the disciplinary boundaries between photography, art, animation and cinematography.

Informed by true photographic sequences, the discs were designed to confirm the validity of Muybridge’s moving image work, which he sought to achieve through an extensive, world-wide lecture programme. Compared to Muybridge’s photographic work, these are possibly the least well known or understood part of his career. As such, they are sometimes overlooked in terms of their significance. Displayed alongside the discs will be some of the original photographic sequences that informed them, represented as albumen prints, collotype prints and images on glass. The relationship between the original photographic sequences and the discs form an integral part of a new interpretation of his work, the result of new research into the Kingston Muybridge collection.

Stanley Picker Gallery – Contemporary Commissions

Muybridge’s groundbreaking work remains a key inspiration to practitioners across an array of interdisciplinary fields. …. the Stanley Picker Gallery is celebrating his lifetime’s achievements through the eyes of two contemporary artists who have been given privileged access to rare material held at the Kingston Museum archives. These new commissions provide us with twenty-first Century perspectives on a world-class historical collection, and explore new ways to consider the ongoing impact of Muybridge’s influential work.

Trevor Appleson 18 Sept – 13 Nov 2010

….ambitious new moving-image and photographic works inspired by Muybridge’s famous collotype sequences of human figures. As part of a residency at The London Contemporary Dance School, the artist has invited dancers to reinterpret gestures and actions that relate to the various visual narratives that Muybridge himself built into his original motion studies.

Becky Beasley 24 Nov – 5 Feb 2011

Taking inspiration from ambiguities in his life-story… an installation of new works that reflect upon the end of Muybridge’s life after his truly epic experiences in the American West. Beasley has attempted to trace an origin to a myth that, at the time of his death, Muybridge was constructing a scale model of the American Great Lakes in his back garden in Kingston.

(Do take a look at the website to see the accompanying artists’ photographs.)

Plus: links to the new Defining Modernities web portal, and (forthcoming) information on Events.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Kingston’s Muybridge Portal is launched

Congratulations to all concerned on the new  web portal Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities, which was successfully launched yesterday at the BFI South Bank in London.

This unique website, the result of an ongoing collaboration between Kingston University and Kingston Museum in the United Kingdom, aims to provide a definitive research resource surrounding the work of 19th Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Here you can find an introduction to Muybridge’s works in historical and social context; and information on the international collections that house them.


More about the related symposium, soon.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge Yosemite

Sylvan Bar. Valley of the Yosemite

Photographer: Muybridge. Publisher: Bradley & Rulofson
(Online Archive of California web site: Valley of the Yosemite by Eadweard Muybridge, 1872.)

Click to enlarge. It’s beautiful.

Blog posts featuring Muybridge and his work vary greatly in quality, and most are not too interesting, but one in ten makes up for this. My favourite entry this month is on a blog by “Jeff” (that’s the only name I can find at present): SECONDAT:  “You have to study a great deal to know a little.” Pensees et Fragments Inedits de Montesquieu.

Muybridge Yosemite
In which I celebrate family and friends.

A few months back my sister sent me Rebecca Solnit’s River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West. We both like taking pictures and both admire good photography. She thought I’d like the book and she was right. I thought at first I might find it tedious since I’m not particularly interested in the stop-action photos for which Muybridge is famous (and which he pioneered). But Solnit is an excellent critic, she writes well, and, I was pleased to discover, a lot of the photography is aesthetically more appealing than the motion studies. For Muybridge, it turns out, made many images of places and people in the “Wild West” of Solnit’s subtitle. Some of these, as she says, are not only innovative and technically ept, but also strikingly beautiful. The book’s frustration is that it describes but does not show this beauty. The few photographs that it contains are, in my Penguin paperback copy, dreadfully reproduced.

Enter my friend John. He noticed that the Corcoran Gallery here in Washington DC has mounted a very large exhibit of Muybridge’s work: Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. It’s on view through July 18, 2010. ….When John said what he would be going, I asked if the show included any of the (reputedly) great Yosemite photos and when he said it did I leapt at the opportunity to join him on a visit there this past weekend. I wasn’t disappointed. There were room after room of stereographs along with many medium-format and mammoth-plate images, lots of them from Yosemite.

I particularly wanted to see the mammoth-plate ones. They’re big, as the name suggests: each at least 17 inches high and 21.5 inches wide. As are all his photos, they’re also direct images from the photo plates — contact prints rather than enlargements.

Muybridge observed the general design principles then common, including fore-, mid-, and background elements to convey a sense of depth, but, unlike others, he would show debris in foreground — flotsom, fallen limbs, brush, stream-wash, and the like.

This aspect of Muybridge’s landscape work was first brought to my attention some fifteen years ago by the then Curator of Kingston Museum, Paul Hill. Paul had developed a perceptive appreciation of the Yosemite photographs despite being limited almost entirely to viewing only reproductions, mostly of quite poor quality, and his enthusiasm for them dragged me away from the Zoopraxiscope material for just long enough to make a mental note to investigate further. That didn’t really happen, which is one reason I’m looking forward to the Tate Britain’s “Helios” exhibition later this summer – a unique opportunity to wallow in Muybridge landscapes.

Jeff’s blog entry is well worth a visit, with informed comments on several specific Yosemite images by Muybridge, and some by other image-makers.


Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Robert Bartlett Haas dies at 94


Robert Bartlett Haas dies at 94
By Keith Thursby, Los Angeles Times

May 18, 2010


Robert Bartlett Haas, a longtime UCLA educator who spent years immersed in the writings of Gertrude Stein, has died. He was 94.

Haas died April 20 in a hospital in Nuertingen, Germany, after a brief illness, said his son, Peter. He had spent most of his retirement years in Germany.

Haas was born Jan. 20, 1916, in Santa Cruz. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from UC Berkeley in 1938, a master’s in English from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in education from Stanford.

He joined the UCLA faculty in 1949 and was the founding director of the school’s arts and humanities extension division. Peter Haas said the program was envisioned as a way for teachers to broaden their skills with additional courses on a variety of subjects. Haas stayed with the program until his retirement in the late 1970s.

Haas “was one of the young men who sought out Gertrude Stein as a mentor and was rewarded with years of encouragement and friendship and who, in turn, devoted a measure of his academic life to bolstering Stein’s reputation,” Timothy Young, curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, told The Times in an e-mail. Young cataloged Stein’s papers at Yale.

“My dad was a very complex guy,” Peter Haas said. “He was kind of a little avant-garde, and Gertrude Stein was certainly an avant-garde poet.” Among his books about Stein was “A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein,” published in 1971, in which he is credited as editor.

Our own subject gets just a one-line mention in the Los Angeles Times obituary:

Haas also wrote a 1976 biography of pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge, “Muybridge: Man in Motion,” and edited “William Grant Still and the Fusion of Cultures in American Music,” a 1972 book about an African American composer and conductor.

Hass is also survived by another son, Robin, and longtime partner Ia Wech. His first wife, Louise Krause Haas, died in 1982, and a second marriage ended in divorce.

Robert Haas worked on his Eadweard Muybridge book for more than two decades. “Muybridge: Man in Motion,” and Gordon Hendricks’ biography of Muybridge, are still key references for historians working today.

Robert Bartlett Haas donated his Muybridge-related research papers and notes to Kingston Museum, UK, where they may be accessed by prior arrangement.