Rumpus in Kingston

Nude beginnings: Riverside Kingston development to pay tribute to Kingston photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge

5:00am Friday 24th January 2014 in News By Ross Logan, Chief Reporter []

Images taken by Eadweard Muybridge could soon be a familiar site along Kingston riverside.


The Riverside Kingston development this week. Muybridge’s images will be seen on the large white panel to the right of the picture

Artistic images of women posing nude for legendary photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge could soon become a familiar sight along Kingston’s riverside.

The company behind the new Riverside Kingston restaurant development, next to Kingston Bridge, has announced bold plans to commemorate one of the town’s most famous sons by emblazoning its building with stills from his Human Figures in Motion project, carried out in the mid 1880s.

The oversized black and white photographs would greet visitors coming into town from Richmond over Kingston Bridge, as well as those travelling along the Thames.


Developers Canadian and Portland Estates hope that in time, the projection will become as recognisable a landmark as David Mach’s Out Of Order phone box sculpture in Old London Road.

Kingston-born Eadweard Muybridge broke new ground in photography

Greg Miles, head of promotions and animation at Canadian and Portland Estates, said: “Eadweard Muybridge was born and died in Kingston and became a pioneer of photography and the moving image.

“His work is internationally recognised and contributed hugely towards the development of film, which has a vast influence over our lives.

“Kingston owns one of the world’s largest collections of Muybridge’s images and we believe this is something Kingston should celebrate and we wanted to honour the beauty and importance of his work on our building.”

Phase one of Riverside Kingston is due to open in April, bringing five popular restaurant chains to the town for the first time – Cote, Busaba Eathai, CAU, Comptoir Libanais and Bill’s.

Muybridge is credited with revolutionising still photography through his famous motion sequence technique, which paved the way for motion pictures.

Despite the cultural nod to Kingston’s heritage, Kingston Society chairman Jennifer Butterworth was not impressed by the proposal to beam his work across the Thames.

She said: “What is being proposed will only make bad worse.

“It doesn’t matter if the ladies are nude or not.

“We objected to the Riverside sign [on top of the building] and we object to anything more making this site look like a cinema show.”

[end of article]

** So, several years after a major retrospective of Muybridge’s images graced the walls of the Tate Britain art gallery, his photographs are still objected to on the grounds that they represent a “cinema show”. Not only are we still fighting the prejudices against film as art, we’re back to the 1970s struggle to have photography recognized as art. It might not be appropriate to have these pictures on the site suggested, but the objectors will need to come up with some better reasons for rejecting the internationally renowned work of Kingston’s famous son.

Stephen Herbert

Phree Phantasmoscope


Queensland Figaro, 14 July 1883. (National Library of Australia. Creative Commons)


It’s 1883, you’re editor of the Queeensland Figaro, and looking around for a space filler. An old issue of the Scientific American is on a shelf by your desk. In the Supplement there’s a pretty cutout toy of a phenakistiscope (they call it a Phantasmoscope) with silhouettes of a Muybridge horse trotting endlessly. Snip out the piece, and paste it into your next issue. Better still, create an advert for your newspaper in a circle, and paste that in the middle. ‘Weekly, Wisely, & Wittily … 12/- a year in advance.’


Then every time one of these magic discs that your readers have cut out and pasted onto cardboard is handed to a friend to enjoy, they’ll read the advert and rush out and buy the paper, or better still subscribe. Brilliant, and all for free, courtesy Scientific American.

And the best bit is, 130 years later, it’s still for free, courtesy of that excellent resource, the National Library of Australia’s TROVE.

More about these paper discs, here.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Fish Tank Tuesday

This video on YouTube, Fish Tank Tuesday, captures  some of the recent nocturnal moving image projections in Muybridge’s birthplace, Kingston. The goldfish swimming on the front wall of the Rose Theatre are just yards from Muybridge’s childhood home (the building on the left in the top photo, now a computer shop).

On the evening that this video was taken, just across the street from what was, in the mid 19th century, the dwelling of the Muggeridge household is a giant silhouette of a running deer – a moving image produced from Muybridge’s own animated pictures.


And this animation alternates with a sequence showing the frozen successive positions of a galloping horse, advertising the current Muybridge show at Tate Britain, and a poster for the exhibitions of … Muybridge in Kingston. Strange to think of the young Edward in the 1830s and 40s, peering out of those windows at no.30 but never, in his wildest flights of fancy, imagining that in the distant future the immortal results of his own life’s work would be visible as giant, glowing, living pictures on the walls of the buildings in his own hometown High Street.

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

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