Thank you, great-aunt Nell

(c) Kingston Museum

In the early 1890s, Muybridge contributed to the first edition of Funk & Wagnalls’ Standard Dictionary of the English Language, one of the great American dictionaries. His presentation copy of the two-volume work, with a handwritten dedication by Isaac Kaufmann Funk, was kept by the Lawrence-Smith household at Park View, Kingston, where Muybridge was living until his death in 1904.

(c) Kingston Museum

The family’s maid Nellie Sawyer was just 14 years old when she started employment in the household c.1902 and continued as cook, housekeeper and nurse until lastly Miss Katy died and Nellie retained the Dictionary. Her great nephews David and Roger Prince regularly visited their elderly aunt, and there was often talk of Mr Lawrence, Miss Katy (Catherine Plow Smith), Mr Muybridge, and Park View. The Dictionary passed to their mother in 1966-67, and the family generously donated the set to Kingston Museum in 1998.

(c) Kingston Museum

Muybridge had been given the task of writing entries relating to Animal Locomotion; yet another indication that Muybridge’s own scientific analysis of his photographic sequences has been used for texts in authoritative reference works. (So, doubters – ‘Go look that up in your Funk & Wagnalls’, as they used to say on Laugh-In.) Entries included line drawings based on the photo sequences.

Nature [Vol.50 p.146] noted: “…Prof. Huxley has had evolution under his care; Dr. P.T. Mason, anthropology, and Mr. E. Muybridge, animal locomotion. These are only a few of the names of men of science who have helped…”

(c) Kingston Museum

A reference work, Farm Live Stock of Great Britain by Robert Wallace (probably the 1893 edition), used six examples of the drawings from Funk & Wagnalls, from “advance sheets of the Standard Dictionary”, which was then still in preparation. Muybridge also “revised and corrected the letterpress”.

Thank you Nellie May Sawyer, for keeping the Dictionary safe for so many years, and thank you to David Prince for kindly supplying information provided in this post, and to Peta Cook and Jill Lamb of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

The running man….. ‘endlessly mysterious to contemplate’

Proving that just one of Muybridge’s thousands of images can support an entire essay, Luke McKernan philosophises about ‘The running man…’ – at The Bioscope.
Here’s a small sample, but do read the whole piece.

“It is perhaps the most iconic of all photographic images. Eadweard Muybridge’s running man (he made several photographic sequences of a man running, but I’m thinking of the one illustrated here) conjures up the very idea of photography. It has captured the instant, has brought a moment out of its specific time into all time. We can hear the click of the shutter. It is one of a sequence of twelve, any one of which can seen as representative, as all document the same action, but the point where both legs leave the air is the most quintessentially photographic. It is the image for which photography was made……..

The running man is not a complete work in itself. It/he is part of Plate 62 of Animal Locomotion; one of twelve images taken in succession (plus another twelve images giving a side-on view of the same action). It is one twelfth of a work that one cannot ever pin down. Looking at the twelve images in sequence does not really tell us what the work signifies; looking at one of the images does [not] give us the full work; looking at the sequence animated falsifies what Muybridge tried to achieve. And the man did not run forever, as the animations suggest. He ran from one end of the track to another. Then he stopped. Muybridge’s work is endlessly mysterious to contemplate.”

To learn more about the men and women who posed for Muybridge’s motion studies, book now for Marta Braun’s lecture “Muybridge’s Models” – at the Tate Britain, Thursday 21st October, 1pm.
Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Revolutions opens at Kingston!

Lantern slide. Courtesy: Kingston Museum

Muybridge in Kingston: Muybridge Revolutions
18 Sept 2010 – 12 Feb 2011

Don’t take my word for it – see for yourself the wonderful exhibition at Kingston Museum – now running.

I was pleased to be asked to give a talk on the opening night (yesterday), following a shadow-play workshop by Zannie Fraser, and a magic lantern show by Mervyn Heard.

Large Muybridge in Kingston posters greeted us as we walked to the Museum from the Station; an impressive promotion.

From the first glance, it’s obvious that this is a very special exhibition. The quality of the design, build, (by James Rowlands) and of course the academic work by Peta Cook and Alexandra Reynolds that very clearly underpins the display will, I feel, be evident to any visitor.


Photo courtesy Peta Cook

Late night installation by James Rowlands and team.

And the artefacts look wonderful – even to those of us familiar with them. At last, this world-class Muybridge collection can be seen for what it is, even though two important objects – the 17ft long panorama of San Francisco, and the original Zoopraxiscope – are at Tate Britain. (There’s a faithful replica Zoop in the Kingston show.) But this exhibition is about the images that Muybridge showed on the screen, explained and displayed in detail – complete with animations – for the first time. Congratulations to Kingston Museum on fully achieving the objective. And I understand that an extra section, in the old Muybridge Gallery on the ground floor, will open around 1st October.

Lantern slide. (c) Kingston Museum

No time to properly absorb everything last night, so a full review – with actual details rather than just superlatives – some time soon, after a second visit.

Mo and I were invited to join a dozen or so for a meal afterwards, and we sat by the River in a restaurant/bar on the ground that was once the garden-yard of the Muggeridges, behind their home in the High Street, where one hundred and sixty years ago young Edward said goodbye to his family and set off on an adventure to the New World.

This exhibition places Muybridge’s unique discs within the context of both his career and the history of moving image projection. Displayed alongside the discs are some of the original photographic sequences that informed them, represented as 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.

Other items on display include examples of Muybridge’s rare and intriguing ‘coded’ lecture slides, some of his equipment and a unique scrapbook charting his phenomenal career.  Many of these objects have never been seen on public display before, providing an exciting opportunity to provide people with rare access to new knowledge through this important collection.

To accompany the original objects, a beautiful replica of the Zoöpraxiscope forms a central part of the exhibition, alongside a specially commissioned set of animations which emulate the original experience afforded Muybridge’s audience through the Zoöpraxiscope.

Also open now is the contemporary work ‘Dance of Ordinariness’ by Trevor Appleson, at the Stanley Picker Gallery.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Move! at NK Gallery, Boston

September 2010

NKG presents MOVE! an exhibition that relates to movement through space and time. Jeffrey P. Heyne and Rufus Butler Seder, two artists that live and work in New England both use photography as a starting point and challenge the temporal quality of movement. This exhibition will open September 1, 2010 and run through September 26, with opening reception Friday, September 10, 5 – 8 PM

(Images from left going clockwise: Rufus Butler Seder “Figure Descending a Staircase”, Lifetiles, 4’w x 6’h, 2009; Jeffrey Heyne “Muybridge Boxers No. 10+1”, 2009 & “Muybridge Boxers No. 9+7”, 2010, both digital print and polyester resin on Dibond panels)
by Kathy A. Halamka

“We just opened (September 1) a visually energetic exhibition called “Move!” at NK Gallery. The artists featured are Jeffrey Heyne and Rufus Butler Seder. Their images pay homage and play with, in different ways, to Eadweard Muybridge’s  photographic movement studies. Jeffrey Heyne was inspired by flip books of Muybridge’s images, and his manipulations bring the frozen images back to movement, then freezes them again in a visually seductive resin surface. Rufus Butler Seder has developed a lenticular  form of glass tile he calls Lifetiles, and at his studio creates all the many stages to build both small and very large murals of moving images – one of the ones at NK Gallery evokes the Muybridge Galloping Horse.”

NK Gallery LLC (NKG) was established in 2010 by Natacha Sochat and Kathy Halamka. Our artists represent a broad and vibrant contemporary spectrum of ideas, approaches, and materials.



“My current series of works are reinterpretations of Eadweard Muybridge’s stop-motion photos from the 1880’s. It is from toy flip-books of the photos comprising his seminal publication, Animal Locomotion, which my work borrows from.

I am interested in the idea of playing with his iconic images– to make his frozen photos “move” again. Muybridge’s high shutter speeds broke down movement into distinct visual images, separated by equal intervals of time that could be analyzed frame by frame, and to observe a cause and effect sequence for scientific study. From a physical point of view, each of the still images is actually a record of a period of time of about 1/2000 of a second, a short time but still a duration of time. From a phenomenological point of view though, can this freeze-frame image, in a sense, be re-activated to release the latent motion it originally recorded?

With Photoshop, I alter Muybridge’s image by distorting, blurring, warping, stretching, or twisting to imply a sense of motion. I would like to elicit a metaphorical sense of allowing time to re-flow. Like pressing <PLAY> after the <PAUSE> button has been on for the past 125 years.

But how is this new motion read in today’s time? What visual consequences present themselves by re-animating the flow of time? I feel a new narrative is posed by the isolation of a single Muybridge image from the context of its original sequence. My selection of alternate colors further jars the meaning. Effects of blurring and distortion torque the space. Multiple and mirror images lend tension or evoke other pattern-based associations.

With the application of a thick top coat of glossy resin, the picture plane of the photo image is visually slippery, and appears to float somewhere within the thickness. I think of my Muybridge images as cast in another type of frozen state, much like an ancient biological specimen locked away within a piece of crystalline amber.”

“Years ago, as a filmmaker, a fascination with antique motion picture toys led me to wonder if I could create movies on a grand scale using no electricity, moving parts or special lighting.

After some experiment I developed an 8” square, three-pound, lens-ribbed glass tile, which I called a LIFETILE. By combining many LIFETILES, I found I was able to create large-scale “Movies for the Wall”: optical wall pieces that appear to come to life, move and change when the observer walks by.

Since 1990 I have created large-scale LIFETILES murals for the Smithsonian Institute, AMTRAK, the BART subway system in San Francisco, science museums, aquariums, zoos and dozens of other public places around the world. While I continue to accept commissions, I now also create smaller, limited-edition LIFETILES compositions for galleries and private collectors.

The success of LIFETILES inspired me to develop my own patented line of smaller-optically animated items: CineSpinner™ Suncatchers with images that spring to life in a window when they rotate at the end of their string and Smart Move™ greeting cards with pictures than move realistically when they are opened. I also continue to expand a line of bestselling childrens’ Scanimation® books for Workman Publishing.

When I design any one of my works in these mediums I have invented, large or small, my goal is always the same. I am going for that signature motion that instantly defines the subject to the observer. I want to make you feel the weightless thrill of a dancer’s leap or the elastic coil and spring of a running cat. When I succeed, I feel as though I’ve created a little bit of life itself.”

New toy from Rufus here:

Posted here by Stephen Herbert, website The Compleat Muybridge

Tate Britain: Here come the reviews……

(c) The Independent

Here are some of the many, many reviews of the Tate Britain’s Eadweard Muybridge exhibition. More to follow, after all the fuss dies down and I can take a breath.

Rebecca Solnit defends Muybridge against “a new campaign of innuendo.”

“History now remembers him in fragments, as a landscape photographer, as a technical innovator, as a key figure in the long march to motion pictures, as the maker of the motion studies whose grids of images and images themselves influenced everyone from the painter Francis Bacon to the conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. His accomplishment is so broad and curious that few have assimilated it into what is, despite everything, a coherent achievement. And a new round of challenges to his originality and even his authorship have surfaced in the last few years.”

Eadweard Muybridge: Running Man (Time Out)
by Helen Sumpter

“In later portraits of Muybridge, his glacially stern face and wild white hair and beard resemble the hard granite edifices, with white waterfalls, that he photographed in stunning detail in Yosemite. This leads us back to ‘Muybridge – The Movie’, for which only a grizzled Mark Wahlberg or an unhinged Christian Bale could possibly fill those pioneering shoes.”

Eadweard Muybridge: the moving story of a mysterious pioneer (Telegraph)
by Mark Hudson

“The man with the long beard looks more than a little odd, his deep-set, strangely catlike eyes seeming to look backwards into an intense inner world. Even by the standards of the 19th century, when great men from Tennyson to Carlyle cultivated the look of Old Testament prophets, Eadweard Muybridge, who adopted the eccentric spelling of his first name in imitation of a Saxon king, looks a few sandwiches short of a picnic…..

Muybridge died, back home in Kingston, essentially a disappointed man, in 1904. And as David Hockney, a lifelong admirer, points out, without the interest of artists, he’d probably have been forgotten.

‘The cinema made him irrelevant. But his books were such an incredible repository of images for artists to use. Every art school had a copy of The Human Figure in Motion,’ he says.

Hockney transposed a frame of Muybridge’s Seated Woman Drinking Tea, Being Served by Standing Companion into a painting of his own of the same title. ‘The title gives it a quaintness. There is an eroticism in his work, but it’s offset by the sense of scientific inquiry,’ Hockney says.

Yet far from being marooned in a distant world of Victorian eccentricity, Muybridge has long been acclaimed as one of the creators of the modern world – a status that seems to be rising by the day.“

Eadweard Muybridge was a great pioneer, says Richard Dorment (Telegraph)

“While his technical innovations belong to the realms of science, Muybridge’s photographs are also objects of elusive beauty, mysteriously imbued with the powerful personality of a man you feel by the end of this show you have come to know.”

19th century pioneer Eadweard Muybridge photos earn place in history at Tate Britain (culture 24)
by Mark Sheerin

“These animal motion studies still hold the power of surprise. A speeding greyhound is almost liquid. A jumping horse appears to decompose and recompose on either side of its hurdle. These everyday creatures are more mercurial than you would imagine.”

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain (Financial Times)
by Simon Schama

“So if you want to know how “motion studies” begat moving pictures begat the movies – a peculiarly Californian story – go to the Tate Britain show, even though the array of wonders is installed with the kind of curatorial teeth-clench that demands reverence for the Art above any atmospheric rendering of the rackety world of the Gilded Age. Would it have killed off aesthetic integrity to have had a bit of California honky-tonk in the glorious room featuring Muybridge’s 360 degree panorama of San Francisco? In an exhibition about the birth of the moving image there are exactly two items that move: a comprehensive slideshow of every plate from Animal Locomotion and a cheerful display of Muybridge’s “zoopraxical” projections.”

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Setting Time in Motion

Now here’s a treat – a preview of the short video made by Chocolate Films, for the Muybridge Revolutions exhibition at Kingston Museum.

“Chocolate Films is an award-winning video production company specialising in documentaries. We produce high quality films for cinema, television, commercial and community clients. Founded as a not-for-profit enterprise, we combine our commercial work with courses and projects, which enable children, young people and community groups to make films.”

Check out the video on their new website.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Too much Muybridge!

Too busy to blog properly. So just a quick roundup of events over the past few days…….

Monday – following some successful research that’s detailed in my previous post – to the Tate opening with Mo, and it’s full of wonderful things … of course. But I spend most of the time talking with nice people, including Philip Brookman, who was responsible for the original Washington show, and the marvellous catalogue, and Ian Warrell, Curator of 18th and 19th century British Art. Good to see a solid turnout from Kingston, Muybridge’s home town.

Tuesday, I write my talk, “Eadweard Muybridge – Father of the Motion Picture?” –  for the opening of Kingston Museum’s exhibition Muybridge Revolutions, which will be on the 18th of this month. Lots of pictures to find and arrange.

Wednesday, I’m at the Royal Institution – where our man lectured on several occasions – for a filmed interview with Alan Yentob, for a Muybridge edition of the BBC1 Imagine programme. It’s a two-shot so questions need to be answered quickly, which doesn’t allow any time for thinking, and I fluff and splutter my way through. Later, I get an email from the editor of the Magic Lantern Society Newsletter, asking if I’d write a review of the Tate show.

Today (Thursday), I’m trying to gather together the best reviews of the Tate show, for this blog. They’ll be listed soon. And – a friend who’s a member of the Royal Academy drops by with a copy of Poetry in Motion, an article by Simon Wilson in RA Magazine, Autumn 2010.

Plus … I’ve been asked to give a talk at the Tate Britain, as part of an evening of Muybridge-related events. Something about the Zoopraxiscope, maybe. Late at Tate: Muybridge. Friday 1 October 2010 . “Late at Tate Britain draws inspiration from pioneering Anglo-American photographer Eadweard Muybridge presenting an evening of specialist talks, early film, music and interactive experiments exploring colour, light, space and movement.”

Too much Muybridge for (less than) one week, even for me!

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

New York, New York: Edward Muggeridge arrives in 1850

The Transatlantic Steam Ship Liverpool. Library of Congress

Lithograph by H. R. Robinson.

Just as my chronology gets into print, it needs updating. And it’s an important date change, too. It’s always said that Muybridge first went to America in 1851 or ‘52. In the 1960s-70s his biographer Gordon Hendricks tried to find him on ships’ lists for 1852, but without success.

Departure of an Emigrant Ship from Liverpool for America. Illustrated London News

Illustrated London News, 6 July 1850

This morning, I found him. It’s so much easier now of course, having access to digital records. I have searched before without luck, but I searched yet again, and there he was.

Edwd. Muggeridge, age 20, Merchant. He left Liverpool on the eponymous steam ship Liverpool in the summer of 1850, arriving in New York on or shortly before 16th July.

The steam ship Liverpool had made its first transatlantic voyage from England to the United States in October 1838. In July 1850, while Muybridge was mid-Atlantic, the Illustrated London News published engravings showing what such a trip entailed.

Between decks on an emigrant ship. Illustrated London News

Muybridge would most likely have travelled steerage class, with all of its discomforts. But perhaps he enjoyed some fun, too, and joined in the dancing (see below). Four hundred and seventeen passengers left Liverpool, 414 arrived in New York, three having died during the voyage. Master of the Liverpool was John Eldridge, who had been at sea since the age of twelve, and was responsible for registering the passengers’ names on arrival.

Dancing on an Emigrant Ship. Illustrated London News

So it seems that Muybridge never did see the Great Exhibition of 1851, being already established in New York by that time.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

New book from Taschen!

Well I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s in print. With all of the Animal Locomotion plates, and the complete (previously unpublished) Attitudes of Animals in Motion album, its evidently a substantial tome!

Eadweard Muybridge, The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs.
Eadweard Muybridge, Hans Christian Adam
Hardcover, 33.2 x 24.3 cm (13.1 x 9.6 in.), 804 pages
(44.99 Pounds)
ISBN: 978-3-8365-0941-1

Multilingual Edition: English, French, German
Details from

Life in motion – The forerunner of the moving image

This resplendent book traces the life and work of Muybridge, from his early thinking about anatomy and movement to his latest photographic experiments. The complete 781 plates of Muybridge’s groundbreaking Animal Locomotion (1887) are reproduced here. In addition, Muybridge’s handmade and extremely rare first illustrated album, The Attitudes of Animals in Motion (1881) is reproduced in its entirety. A detailed chronology by British researcher Stephen Herbert throws new light on one of the most important pioneers of photography.

Hans Christian Adam  studied psychology, art history and communication in Vienna. As a specialist in historical images, he has published numerous articles and books, including titles on travel and war photography. He is the author of TASCHEN’s Edward Sheriff Curtis: The North American Indian, Karl Blossfeldt, Eugene Atget: Paris and Berlin, Portrait of a City.

This posting by Stephen Herbert

Piercy Conner: Muybridge design for 2012 Olympic Village

Piercy Conner design

‘Muybridge’ mould ready for the precast concrete to be cast

The running man pattern on Piercy Conner’s facade for the 2012 Olympic Athletes Village was developed by ‘re-animating’ Muybridge’s photographs before capturing the individual frames to form an intricate pattern. This pattern is reproduced as fine grooves in the concrete cladding panels.

linear representation of the movement

Original sequence from Animal Locomotion

Piercy Conner Architects & Designers, London.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert