The Woman Warrior – Muybridge motion capture

Woman Warrior

The blog DIY Gamer, in its Game-Maker Archive thread, recently included a piece about mid-1990s video games, which adds to the historiography of Muybridge and motion capture…..

The Game-Maker Archive: Sheldon Chase and the Woman Warrior
June 24, 2010 | Eric-Jon Rössel Tairne

Toward the end of Recreational Software Designs’ support of its Game-Maker development suite, Sheldon Chase became a kind of pervasive presence. Somewhere around 1995 or early ‘96, he hit on the notion of digitizing Eadweard Muybridge’s early motion photography for use as character sprites — sort of a retro Mortal Kombat effect, if you will. The result was a few drafts of a silvery, jittery nude model. After a bit of anti-aliasing and some animation tweaks, and finally some wardrobe assistance, he presented to RSD a stock female character for inclusion in future software updates.

Much as RSD’s Sample hero formed the template for uncounted male protagonists, Chase’s Muybridge lady became the starting place for legions of (often lurid) sprite edits. If for that reason alone Chase’s input would be notable. Yet his Woman Warrior games also exemplified several unusual and advanced techniques, as well as a curious borrowed aesthetic that sticks in the mind.

Muybridge’s re-vamped and digitized woman appeared in Woman Warrior and the Outer Limits, and Woman Warrior and the Attack from Below.

[The game] Houses is one of the more overt demo games to come with Game-Maker ….

The game contains (indeed begins with) a slightly less refined version of Chase’s Muybridge lady, wearing just a blue swimsuit — more or less a selective palette swap, adding both a bit of color and a bit of modesty to the black-and-white photos. Houses is a later addition to RSD’s demo portfolio, and perhaps was added for the 3.0 CD release. For posterity, that release also comes with a bare version of the Muybridge model — although I believe it exists only as a raw sprite set, and is not incorporated into any game.

Appropriately enough, when I viewed this blog entry an advertising strap was promoting the MA / MSc course in Computer Generated Imagery at Kingston University, which includes motion capture techniques.

Perhaps the original photographic sequences used for Warrior Woman were those featuring Blanche Epler, Muybridge’s favourite model, animated back into action in 1995 – more than a century after Muybridge photographed her – but dressed up and coloured and interacting with digital creatures from the imagination. 1990s video games are now consigned to history but like that other animated antique, Felix, Blanche is walking still – in animations from Animal Locomotion that proliferate on the World Wide Web that Muybridge could hardly have dreamed of.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge images to improve Kingston riverside building

News from bdonline website:

Victorian artwork takes pride of place on Kingston’s riverfront.

“Haworth Tompkins has won planning permission for a £9 million mixed-use scheme to revamp and extend a monolithic brown brick 1970s building on the banks of the Thames near Hampton Court.

Located in the middle of a flood plain, the original Bishop’s Palace House by the Raymond Spately partnership sits in the town centre of Kingston upon Thames adjacent to the grade II*
listed Kingston Bridge.

Originally designed as a supermarket, the unpopular building is on a 0.5ha site thought to have once hosted a medieval palace. It currently houses a river-level car park, offices, retail units, a nightclub and a pub.

Its new owner, Canadian & Portland Estates, commissioned Haworth Tompkins in 2008 to transform and extend the building by breaking down its mass, improving views across, around and through the site, and creating river terraces.

Project architect Jim Reed said: “Despite strong local support for the scheme, technical issues such as flooding and archaeology threatened to derail the project right up until the last moment.”

Reed’s 9,300sq m scheme mixes a variety of materials, including steel framing, curtain wall glazing, perforated metal, stone and even a planted “green” wall to express the new functions of the building.

Cafés and restaurants will replace the car park, while a rooftop pavilion offers views across the river and a large screen in the middle of the riverfront facade will show images from the work of local Victorian artist Eadweard Muybridge.

The project will be built in two phases to accommodate its current occupants. Work is due to start on site in autumn 2011.”

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

The newest Eadweard Muybridge mystery

Weston Naef. (Tyler Green photo)

On ‘Modern Art Notes’, the important art blog by Tyler Green, is an introduction to what promises to be a controversial suggestion by influential curator of photography Weston J. Naef that Muybridge purchased many of his early photographic negatives, including many which he then inscribed ‘Helios’, from Carleton Watkins.

Essentially, Naef argues that Muybridge couldn’t have been a sufficiently competent photographer, in the late 1860s, to photograph some of the exceptional works – especially the Yosemite subjects – that are attributed to him.

Central to this suggestion is the lack of evidence of any photographic activity by Muybridge in England in the 1860s, before he returned to the USA – apparently having mastered the process. But of course absence of proof isn’t proof of absence, and in fact there are some (admittedly tenuous) pieces of ‘evidence’ – echoes of a suggestion that Muybridge had learned the art from Kingston’s Beadle (a Mr Brown, who certainly practiced photography commercially).

Weston Naef also uses the information that I discovered about Muybridge’s entrepreneurial activities in the 60s – with the failed Bank of Turkey, and a failed silver mine – to build a gradually evolving picture of the man as a serial entrepreneur, who ‘bought up’ rather than invented the clothes-washing machine, and printing method, that he dabbled with in the early 60s. And then bought up photographs by Watkins, and marked them “Helios”.

There are, of course, other possibilities. This isn’t a new subject, and it has been argued both ways. Back in the 1970s, James E. Ayers noted in a brochure to accompany an exhibition of Muybridge’s work: : ‘[earlier] photographs of the Yosemite Valley, credited to [Carleton E.] Watkins, could possibly have been ‘ghosted’ by Muybridge.’

The fuss is attracting bloggers to create posts with such titles as “Did the Corcoran Fall for an Eadweard Muybridge Scam?

Tyler Green reports on Modern Art Notes:

Naef’s catalogue raisonne of Watkins’ large-format pictures, titled “Carleton Watkins: The Complete Mammoth Photographs,” is scheduled for publication in 2011 by Getty Publications. Naef’s examinations could lead to a re-consideration of early American photographic history and a new understanding of how the iconography of the American West was made, presented, sold and distributed. The emergent Muybridge debate also provides an opportunity to see both art and American history as its being determined and debated, a real-life art history mystery-in-progress.

“I think that it’s in part the stereographs that would seem to be most open to reattribution,” Naef told MAN. “The half-plates I think show great potential [for same] and those pix that are on the mounts of Thomas Houseworth & Co. that have been attributed to Muybridge have to be reconsidered, I think.”

At this stage it’s all supposition of course, but this new interest in Muybridge’s early photographic activities, and questions about the attribution of certain photographs, will perhaps lead to new facts being discovered. More on this soon.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Walking as One: Magyar and Muybridge

News of a timebased photography project

In the Summer of 2010 Adam Magyar, a Hungarian artist living in Berlin, will visit the UK to make two significant commissions, produced by Rhubarb-Rhubarb. We are inviting the public to come and walk for the camera and return to see themselves as part of large scale outdoor image installations….

This is the type of image which Adam makes – creating a sense of solidarity as people walk together in the same direction. Of course the people on the right are a few minutes older than the people on the left…

Magyar will create two large-scale outdoor installations, working with Newham Council and Birmingham Cultural Partnership. A minimum of 300 local people will be needed to create each image. The camera used to create the installations records a scene one pixel at a time to capture movement. Using the same technologies as those used on the Olympic Finish Line, photographer Ádám Magyar has built his own software to transpose the thousands of slices per second, captured by the camera, “to create stunning images which embrace time and space in a most intriguing way”.

Walking As One – Birmingham

Birmingham’s motto is Forward, which fits perfectly with the motion created in Adam’s images. Based in Birmingham, Rhubarb Rhubarb are delighted that the Walk for the Camera will take place as part of the city’s participation in the London 2012 Open Weekend – a UK wide participatory event which celebrates the cultural aspect of the games.

The finished work will be unveiled on 1 August at 5.30pm on the enormous hoarding outside the new site of the Library of Birmingham. Magyar’s print will be shown alongside a historical print by Eadweard Muybridge drawn from the nationally and internationally significant collection of photographs held by the Library of Birmingham and Archives Services. Like Magyar, Muybridge developed a particular technological solution to reveal everyday motion.

Muybridge’s late nineteenth century image captured 24 phases of motion at intervals of 87 thousandth’s of a second. Magyar’s instrument captures thousands of pieces of data per second. Both explore the most universally shared way of moving through time and space – walking. Walking As One will remain outside the Library for 2 months, and there will be another chance to see more of Adam’s work, including the walks that didn’t make the final cut, at The Mailbox, five minutes walk from Centenary Square between 24th July and 5th August.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure Sport and Culture at Birmingham City Council, said: “The site hoardings at the Library of Birmingham have been the focus of much attention of late, with the unveiling of the first ‘Faces’ of the project together with the installation of the pioneering living wall, and we’re excited to announce this latest addition. We are delighted to be working with Rhubarb Rhubarb and Adam Magyar on this very special project to celebrate the National Cultural Olympiad Weekend, and we’re sure that the people of Birmingham will be impressed by the Walking As One exhibition.”

Rhubarb Rhubarb and Adam Magyar are inviting 300 people to sign up for the walk on the 24th July at 6pm at Centenary Square, Broad Street, Birmingham.

Newham Council, Rhubarb Rhubarb and Adam Magyar are inviting 300 people to sign up for the walk on the 17th July at 5pm at the Mayor’s Newham Show, Central Park, East Ham, London.

To take part please register at:

Walking As One – London
Newham, London – Saturday 17 July – 5 pm. Newham Show, Upton Park, East Ham
Image site – outside Stratford Station on the famous Blue Fence
Date of unveiling to be confirmed

Walking As One – Birmingham
Birmingham – Saturday 24 July – 6 pm. Centenary Square, Broad Street, City Centre – part of the London 2012 Open Weekend (In case of rain, the walk will be held across the stage of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre)
Image site – New Library of Birmingham Hoarding, Centenary Square
To be unveiled on Sunday 1st August at 5.30 pm

More on the Photography blog:

This post by Stephen Herbert

The Strobotop: another winner from Rufus at Eye Think Inc.

I’ve been very pleased in recent years to see the success of products designed and produced by Rufus Butler Seder, whose whole life has revolved around animated optical wizardry. His enthusiasm and knowledge have paid off with the amazing sales of the Gallop! Swing! and Waddle! books – top of the New York Times children’s book bestseller lists, and now available in many languages.

I’ve included this toy on my “exclusively Muybridge” blog because galloping horses and other Muybridge-type sequences have been a feature of many of Rufus’s artworks and products, and the Strobotop is no exception.

A few years ago I wrote an extensive biography of this ingenious and meticulous inventor of moving image devices and techniques, The Optically Animated Artwork of Rufus Butler Seder, which can be downloaded here: Seder Biog

Strobotop LighhtPhase Animator
Rufus brings the wonder of 19th-century philosophical toys into the 21st century. His latest RetroTech product, which I’ve now been able to test, is the Strobotop LightPhase Animator. It’s a phenakistiscope with a difference – no slots, instead a pulsating led-illuminator to make the pictures appear to move. There has been at least one other attempt to produce a similar toy, but it was flawed and not a success. With its smart design, modern attractive packaging, and quality manufacturing, the Strobotop is sure to be a sales hit. Once again, Rufus has got it right.

Booster Pack with 18 extra discs

The Strobotop™ is similar to the zoetrope, praxinoscope, and phenakistiscope in that it uses a spinning disk with a series of images arrange in a circle around it. But to see the images come to life, instead of viewing them through slots or in mirrors, the Strobotop’s handheld LightPhase Animator enables you to “freeze” each image with rapidly-flickering short pulses of light, like a flashbulb taking a crystal clear picture of each image as it speeds by, one right after the other. As you adjust the dial, the rate of light flicker changes. When the rate of flicker matches the rate of the images spinning by on the disk, the succession of images, delivered to your eye in rapid succession, creates the illusion of motion.

Eye Think, Inc.
39 Emerson Road
Waltham, MA 02451

Mesmerizing Fun!

Spin the Strobotop™, aim your LightPhaser at it, and adjust the dial. Suddenly, the blurring images snap into focus and spring to life before your eyes! Animals leap and gallop. Children run and play. Kaleidoscopic patterns move and change. Swap out Strobodisks™ at will: each is more amazing than the last!

The heavy plastic ‘platter’ spins for around a minute, plenty of time to experiment with different settings on the LightPhaser. The various picture discs available range from geometric designs reminiscent of the old phenakistiscope of the 1830s, to modern cartoons, and animated animals.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Scarce Cuban poster on eBay

A scarce Cuban film poster by graphic artist Antonio Fernandez Reboiro, based on a Muybridge horse sequence, is currently on eBay.

From the seller’s text:

Cuban movie posters were made using the handmade silkscreen process. Aesthetically, the paint, applied in thick layers gave these posters a unique texture that is closer to a painting than to posters. Artistically they are among the best designed in the world and many prizes were awarded to their creators.

In the majority of titles, only 250-500 handmade posters were ever printed and except for a selected group of collectors, most people disposed of them by dressing walls or recycling. Only a fraction of those survived until now. This is one of the very few. Includes a Certificate of Authenticity from CubanPosters.

TITLE: Rodeo-  Cuban film Directed by Enrique Pineda Barnet
YEAR: 1972
ARTIST: Reboiro
MEDIUM: Silkscreen
SIZE: 20″x30″= 51x76cm

The artist’s website is here:

Poster here by Stephen Herbert

More Muybridge-inspired posters at The Compleat Muybridge

Cape Blanco Light House stereoview on eBay

This very nice stereoview is currently on eBay. The seller states:

A rare Muybridge stereoview with lovely artistic composition “1053. Cape Blanco Light House, 1st Order, fixed light, 256 feet above Sea.” The lighthouse dominates the frame, yet the stark setting makes it clear that the landscape and the invisible sea below the cliff dominate this small man-made structure. Wonderful composition featuring the gingerbread keeper’s residence and light tower. Muybridge has precisely posed two men on opposite edges of the tower. A boy and girl in a bonnet are posed on the steps of the tiny residence. A wooden fence defines the composition horizontally. The weather-beaten remnant of a tree adds an interesting element to the composition. Taken on what appears to be a hazy day, giving an impressionistic feel with the people appearing as silhouettes, yet there is good detail as seen in the enlarged scans.

Although this was issued without the photographer’s imprint, it is almost certainly by Muybridge as I have seen several of his other images on this rare variant “Pacific Coast” mount. Moreover, there are 3 other images of this light house (stereoview and album photo) by Muybridge in the Lone Mountain Collection at the Bancroft Library. The stereoview in their collection has an almost identical  title and is numbered 1052. It has a distant view of the lighthouse with a mother and daughter. Another of the Lone Mountain Collection album images shows a similar perspective of the lighthouse as the view I am selling, but without the placement of the men in the tower.

The Cape Blanco lighthouse is located on the southern coast of Oregon. It was constructed in an area where a spruce forest was cleared. (The trunk at the left may be a remnant). Construction was begun in early 1870 and the lighthouse was completed in December, 1870. This stereoview was probably taken shortly after and is the only copy of this rare image that I have seen. A classic Muybridge view.

In 1871, Muybridge photographed several Lighthouses on the Pacific Coast, for US Light House Board.

Other views of this lighthouse by Muybridge, from Wikipedia Commons, and Lone Mountain College Collection.

photo: Bancroft Library

Cape Blanco Light-house, First Order Fixed Light, 256 feet above Sea-level.
Contributing Institution:
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

photo: Bancroft Library

Cape Blanco, Light-house and Dwelling.
Contributing Institution:
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

photo: Bancroft Library

1052: Cape Blanco Light-house, First Order Fixed Light, 256 feet above Sea Level.
Contributing Institution:
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.

More details here:;developer=local;style=oac4;doc.view=items#onlineitems=/search%3Frelation%3Dark%3A/13030/tf6t1nb6w7%3Bstyle%3Dattached%3Bquery%3Dblanco

This posting by Stephen Herbert