Glasgow School of Art Library Treasures

Glasgow School of Art Library

Glasgow School of Art Library

It’s interesting to note – from the Glasgow School of Art Library website – that the Library purchased their Animal Locomotion plates as late as 1917:

The Library is lucky to hold a number of original 1887 plates from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal photographic study Animal Locomotion. In total we hold a representative selection of 63 plates from Muybridge’s total set of 781, which were purchased for the use of our students in June 1917. GSA Governors’ Minutes of 13th June note that ”price not obtained from America yet” and “subject to approval of Convenor”.

Muybridge lectured in Glasgow in 1890:

February 26 (and possibly 27th) Lecture, Queen’s Rooms Glasgow ‘under the auspices of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow’.
March 6 lecture, Glasgow (further details not established).

http://gsalibrarytreasures.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/muybridges-animal-locomotion/

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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Muybridge and The Smartest Kid on Earth

Now here’s something I missed a long time ago, and shouldn’t have. A graphic novel representation of Muybridge and his Zoopraxographical Hall at the 1893 World’s Fair, in Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a graphic novel  written and illustrated by Chris Ware. (Pantheon Books 2000)

Wikipedia tell us: “The story was previously serialized in the pages of Ware’s comic book Acme Novelty Library, between 1995 and 2000 and previous to that, in the alternative Chicago weekly New City.

Plot summary
Jimmy Corrigan is a meek, lonely middle aged man who meets his father for the first time in a Michigan town over Thanksgiving weekend. Jimmy is an awkward and cheerless character with an overbearing mother and a very limited social life. Jimmy attempts to escape his unhappiness via an active imagination that gets him into awkward situations. A parallel story set in the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 shows Jimmy’s grandfather as a lonely little boy and his difficult relationship with an abusive father, Jimmy’s great grandfather. Another storyline shows Jimmy as a lonesome child of divorce, suggesting that this was Jimmy’s “real” childhood, while his “Smartest Kid on Earth” adventures are probably his fantasies.”

I have a sheaf of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library comics still lying in a plan chest here, collected in the late 90s when I still maintained some knowledge of what was going on in the worlds of comics. I was very keen on Jimmy Corrigan, but certainly didn’t see the Muybridge pages.

One of the Jimmy Corrigan ‘Acme Novelty’ books

Another web site tells us: “Chris Ware was born in 1967 and his hugely popular Jimmy Corrigan was awarded The Guardian First Book Award in 2001. Although it originally appeared as a syndicated newspaper strip in London from 1993 to 1999, US author and artist Ware conceived it, from the outset, as a lengthy narrative.

The work, published by Jonathan Cape, combines innovative comic book art, hand lettering and graphic design to tell the story of Jimmy Corrigan, a boy with the face of a disappointed old man, and his relationship with his absent father.

Ware has stated that he drew inspiration from ‘original advertising drawings done for a depression-era Chicago cosmetics firm where all the typography was hand-done with a brush and white ink.’”

Chris Ware’s comics have included a cutout peepshow, zoetrope, flip book, and mutoscope.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Degas and ‘Picturing Movement’ at the Royal Academy

Your tardy blogger has finally been to see Degas and the Ballet. Picturing Movement, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. A brief visit only, and I shall be returning for a more extensive tour – to learn more about Degas and enjoy his paintings, drawings and sculptures, and not just to admire the exhibits relating to chronophotography – before the show closes on 11 December.

An unrepeatable opportunity to see all of these Degas works, so do try to get to the exhibition if you can. First impressions then.

The catalogue, by Richard Kendall and Jill Devonyar is an attractive and engaging piece of research and presentation and great value (reduced to less than £15 at the time of my visit). Muybridge images used include the usual Zoopraxiscope colour photograph (with the top and chimney that don’t actually belong); the colour disc White and Black Running Race; a nice 1889 letter from Muybridge to Frederick A. Eaton of the RA, concerning Muybridge’s forthcoming lectures there; and a single image from ‘Annie G. in Canter’ (Animal Locomotion plate 621) together with an exact copy in chalk by Degas. Many images relating to Marey’s work are also included. The text concerning the relationships between the work of Marey, Muybridge, and Degas is carefully researched and well written and very interesting to read; and of permanent value.

White and Black Race (Zoopraxiscope disc)

The exhibition is spread through several rooms and wasn’t crowded during my visit. There’s a great deal of material concerning the relationship between Degas and photography in general, as well as chronophotography. Most of the Muybridge material relates to aspects of dance postures. One of Marey’s large chrono plate cameras sits in a rather gloomy cabinet in one corner, failing to look interesting. The Zoopraxiscope is better presented, but in a context that raises some questions. In the same cabinet is one picture disc, the 1893 Athletes Running (White and Black Running Race); two athletes, one white and one black, compete in a track race, with a large audience of matchstick figures in the background. This disc is one of the series of drawings based on Muybridge photo sequences combined with imaginary elements – in this case the people watching the race. On the wall above the machine is a large video projection; an animation of a Muybridge sequence of a male athlete performing a ballet-related movement, taken from an Animal Locomotion reproduction of the actual photographic images. Judging from the overheard discussions of those examining this exhibit, visitors are understandably confused. The animation that they’re watching doesn’t appear to have anything in common with the images on the displayed picture disc.

First Ballet Action (from Animal Locomotion)

Of course it’s tempting to animate the Animal Locomotion sequences as the result is very seductive, but it seems to me that this particular exhibit should have had, instead, an accompanying video of a disc animation – perhaps the popular subject Woman Dancing [Kingston EM0052] which is probably the most relevant to the exhibition’s subject – to bring some point to the display of the Zoopraxiscope. The exhibition curators have missed an important trick here, since the animated disc images would have made apparent to the visitor a lesser-known aspect of Muybridge’s work that relates directly to drawing and painting, surely of interest in an exhibition about Degas and movement. The catalogue touches on the production methods of the actual disc pictures and gets it nearly right, so it’s difficult to understand how this misleading display option was decided upon. And since the name of the artist, Irwin Faber, who interpreted and drew these extrapolations from Muybridge sequences is known, that name should have been there too. It seems that there’s still some way to go before art historians apply their usually very meticulous discipline in presenting accounts of technical processes and artist attribution, to peripheral subjects such as Zoopraxography. But there was a certain satisfaction in seeing the Zoopraxiscope back at the RA, after almost 130 years.

More on the exhibition, with less harping on about my own view of its very few shortcomings, soon.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

(White and Black Race Running Race photo courtesy Kingston Museum)

More new art across the media

In part due to the huge exposure that Muybridge and his work has had this past year, new artworks continue to proliferate across the media – dance, photography, painting, music, theatre, video – on YouTube, blogs, exhibitions ….. some derivative, some innovative. I like these two pieces. The first is a collage by Carolyn Brady and appears on Flickr. (To see Carolyn’s work on Flickr, search “vintagepix”).

(c) Carolyn Brady

And this ‘book’ on YouTube, by “msbrittknees” is great fun…….

And I don’t know whether it’s supposed to be, but the BBC’s “The Weird World of Eadweard Muybridge” is on YouTube too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw9Qav9J46U

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Weird Adventures airs on BBC tv

Andy Serkis. Photo (c) BBC

Apart from re-enactments in a 1960s US programme introduced by Ronald Reagan, Eadweard Muybridge as a character of considerable importance in the story of the creation and recording of the modern world has been absent from television. The Weird Adventures of Eadweard Muybridge is the first programme to attempt to tell the full story. It does touch on most aspects, leaving out the bits with very little visual material – the five years spent as a bookseller in New York, totally avoided in the commentary – and his various activities during the five ‘lost years’ back in Europe in the 60s. But for a one-hour programme, it packs a lot in.

Philip Brookman talks with Alan Yentob. Photo (c) BBC

The talking heads include Philip Brookman, whose exhibition in Washington did so much to introduce Muybridge to a wider public; author Rebecca Solnit, in splendid hat, musing on Muybridge in San Francisco as she wanders through the harbour; print collector Michael Wilson marvelling at the artistry of the travel photographs; Jonathan Miller not getting it at all, and insisting that Muybridge was simply an entertainer; recent biographer and long-time chronophotography specialist Marta Braun talking about the Animal Locomotion sequences; art curator Ann Dumas of the Royal Academy of Arts explaining the connection with the ballet dancers of Degas; and Kingston Museum curator Peta Cook introducing the sacred scrapbook, and zoopraxiscope discs.

A nice touch was Stanford Red Barn (Palo Alto) horse trainer Rachel Williamson confirming that the 1870s horse photos are still used today in the equestrian world.

Rachel Williamson. Photo (c) BBC

I got my fair share of the running time, mostly talking about the complexities of the image projections at a Muybridge lecture, and I also managed to get the last word in. [voice from across the room – “you always do…”]

‘Andy Serkis as Muybridge’ said the blurb, and he appeared reading Muybridge’s own words, wearing just a hint of period costume, but no stick-on beard. Serkis was also one of the expert talking heads, since he’s very familiar with the subject, having been developing a Muybridge feature film project for some years. And of course, he’s best known for being Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy – his physical image altered by CG techniques, in a modern development of the motion capture and image manipulation used by Muybridge for converting his photo sequences to painted animations.

No recent news on the feature movie, but perhaps it will happen someday.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Muybridge at the Royal Academy of Arts

Muybridge has been selected as the Royal Academy of Arts’

Artist of the Month – November 2010

 

Athletes, posturing

Photo: R.A.
© Copyright protected

Athletes, posturing, 1881
138 X 232 mm
10/973

From the RAA website: “In March…[1882], the President of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Frederic Leighton PRA invited Muybridge to lecture at the Academy and subsequently, a copy of Muybridge’s The Attitudes of Animals in Motion (London, 1881) was purchased for the Royal Academy of Arts Library. This album of original albumen photographs published in 1881, illustrates Muybridge’s experimental track at Palo Alto and the first sequences of animals in motion, photographed during 1878 and 1879.

With the publication of Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of the Consecutive Phases of Animal Movement, Muybridge had achieved his aim of providing a ‘standard Work of Reference’ and one to which a number of eminent Academicians including Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, William Frith, Sir Frederic Leighton, Sir John Everett Millais, Sir William Orchardson, Sir Edward Poynter and George Frederic Watts all subscribed. In March 1889, Muybridge was to return to the Royal Academy to deliver three further lectures on Animal Locomotion in its relation to Design in Art. At which time, the Academy resolved to purchase a hundred plates for the Royal Academy Schools at the cost of £20, the selection was made by the Keeper, Philip Hermogenes Calderon RA.”

http://www.racollection.org.uk/artist_of_the_month

News too of a Muybridge component in a forthcoming Royal Academy of Arts exhibition:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/8143986/Royal-Academy-to-present-first-Degas-dancers-exhibition.html

Royal Academy to present first Degas’ dancers exhibition

A Royal Academy exhibition aims to prove that Edgar Degas was “more than just a painter of pretty ballet dancers”.

Dancers in Blue

‘Dancers in Blue’ by Edgar Degas

By Anita Singh 10:50AM GMT 19 Nov 2010

Degas Dancers: Eye and Camera will bring together 75 works comprising paintings, photography, pastel drawings and sculpture. It will hail him as an artist ahead of his time, whose work incorporated and was influenced by early film-making and photography.

“As everybody knows, Degas is the artist most associated with dance. But, rather surprisingly, there has never been an exhibition in Britain devoted exclusively to Degas’ dancers,” said curator Ann Dumas.

“I think we have a very interesting and unusual and fresh approach to this subject. I hope it will undermine the idea that Degas was just a painter of pretty ballet dancers. In fact, he was an extremely radical artist of his time.

“He had a very experimental way of working that has never been fully explored. I think it will make for a very interesting and revelatory exhibition.”

The exhibition will include the Little Dancer sculpture of a 14-year-old girl alongside the artist’s preparatory drawings, which were done from different angles and create the impression of the subject turning 360 degrees.

His work will be displayed alongside that of Eadweard Muybridge, the 19th century photographer, and Auguste and Louis Lumière, the French film-makers, all of whom had an influence on Degas.

The show, which runs from September 17 – December 11 next year, is one of the highlights of the Royal Academy’s 2011 programme.

 

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

Yamamura’s “Muybridge’s Strings”

Koji Yamamura

National Film Board (Canada) Producer Michael Fukushima on upcoming Koji Yamamura masterclass at the Toronto Mediatheque
November 8th, 2010
(from an online article by Tanya Koivusalo)
NFB.ca blog

The NFB Mediatheque is thrilled to host a Masterclass and screening on November 13th to celebrate the work of Oscar®-nominated animator Koji Yamamura. He is the most successful auteur animation filmmaker in Japan today, and his work is internationally renowned.
This special programme, co-curated by Michael Fukushima and Marco de Blois and presented with Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, Montreal’s Cinémathèque québécoise, the Japan Foundation, and the National Film Board of Canada, represents a small slice of Yamamura’s creative output but offers a sense of his unique talent. From his first commissioned works in the early 90s, to his breakout success Atamayama/Mt. Head, through his experimentation and explorations with The Old Crocodile and Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor, this is a must-see programme for anyone craving another look at their Yamamura favourites, and new audiences interested in one of the most influential auteur animators of his generation. Yamamura himself will be in attendance for the Masterclass. I spoke with NFB producer and co-curator Michael Fukushima to find out more about this special one-time event…….
TK: What are you working on with him now?
MF: Koji and I have been working on a 12-minute short called Muybridge’s Strings for a few years. It’s a co-production between the NFB, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), and Polygon Pictures from Tokyo. At a first level, it’s a film about Eadweard Muybridge, one of the pioneers of motion pictures, but centering on a pivotal moment of violence in Muybridge’s life. But really, Muybridge and his obsession with capturing and stopping time is a mechanism for Koji to tell a story about parents and children, about love, and about the inexorable and unstoppable passing of time through our fingers.

http://blog.nfb.ca/2010/11/08/nfb-producer-michael-fukushima-on-upcoming-koji-yamamura-masterclass-at-the-toronto-mediatheque/

In 2005, Yamamura created an ‘Animation Museum’ display:

Duration March 25 through September 25, 2005 185days
’Interactive Fun Zone’ in AICHI EXPO Nagakute Area

In viewing the cave paintings of primitive times, you get a sense of the energetic movement of the horses, cows, and deer. Many legs are drawn on one body, perhaps to express its running, which is recognized as the roots of animation. Through the paintings, you will feel the bliss of primitive men finding “a joy in capturing moving images”, and “a wonder of replaying the moving images” dramatized by the flickering torchlight.
“Yamamura Animation Museum” starts from that cave art, and it is full of the joy and wonder of creating animation. The museum contains an exhibition of world animation history replicated by Koji Yamamura using full of his imagination, and numerous animation drawings, models, and artworks on display that show his history as a creator of animation, and there is also a corner in which to experience moving images with various types of equipment.
Now, please enjoy the exhibition, enjoy the moving pictures, and let your curiosity and imagination discover the joy of Yamamura Animation.
http://www.yamamura-animation.jp/E_Body.html

Posted here by Stephen Herbert