Muybridge (all over) Kingston

The Muybridge in Kingston project is currently inescapable in the old photographer’s home town. The Muybridge Revolutions exhibition (original lantern slides and motion discs) at the Museum continues until 12 February, with ongoing lectures.

Barkman Computers in the High Street – Muybridge’s childhood home, just across the street from the Coronation Stone – has a large window display, and in the Rose Theatre next door some of Trevor Appleson’s large colour photographs of human movement/activity are being shown. In the evenings, there are spectacular Nocturnal Projections (18 Sept – 11 Feb).

A few yards down the road at the Market Square, the ancient Market House recently housed a display of local children’s artwork inspired by the old photographer’s sequences of people in motion. As well as single-phase drawings of people in motion and photo-sequences for animating in mini cardboard zoetropes, the children made their own versions of the commemorative plaque that’s on Muybridge’s original house, with details of how they would like to be remembered – from the inevitable “league footballer” to “auther”. (More about the children’s work in a later post.)

This artwork was also in one of the rooms at the Stanley Picker Gallery.

Also at the Stanley Picker, is Appleson’s Dance of Ordinariness“an ambitious new moving-image and photographic work 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”. The multi-screen presentation echoes the multiple-view format of the Animal Locomotion plates. One sequence shows water flowing from a mop in slow motion – the effect half-way between Muybridge’s time-frozen water in a similar scene, and watching this happen in real time –  allowing us to see (as in Muybridge’s published collotype sequence) the detail in the water’s movement, at the same time that the synthesized motion is being presented.

The exhibition runs until 13 November, with Becky Beasley’s exhibition following from 24 November.

Posted here by Stephen Herbert.

Children’s artwork, and workshop photograph, reproduced by kind permission of Natalie Kay, Education Coordinator for the Stanley Picker Gallery.

Flying horses to Avatar

Flying horses to Avatar – Eadweard Muybridge comes home to Kingston—eadweard-muybridge-comes-home-to-kingston.html

For a succinct guide to the Muybridge in Kingston project, it’s well worth spending 13 minutes viewing the new video featuring David Falkner, Director of the Stanley Picker Gallery.

“Kingston University and Kingston Museum have teamed up to run a major programme of events and activities promoting Eadweard Muybridge. This coincides with the first significant retrospective of the famous photographer’s work arriving at Tate Britain from the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC.

David Falkner … believes that, in 2010, Muybridge’s work is more relevant than ever. In this interview he explains how Muybridge’s experiments have direct links to modern films such as Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and The Matrix.”

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

For Your Diary September-October 2010

from a lantern slide, Kingston Museum

Lots happening Muybridge-wise in the UK over the next few months. Here are some of the events taking place during September and October. More details as they emerge.

Eadweard Muybridge at Tate Britain
8 Sept – 16 Jan
Tate Britain, Millbank
First major UK retrospective of Muybridge’s entire career.
Tickets £10/£8.50 from htpp://

Muybridge in Kingston Launch Day
Sat 18 Sept 12.30-7pm
Kingston Museum & Stanley Picker Gallery
Public launch of the Muybridge in Kingston exhibitions with special events for all the family, including a magic lantern show from Professor Heard, shadow puppetry from Zannie Fraser and an evening launch lecture on Muybridge’s links to the history of the moving and projected image by Muybridge expert Stephen Herbert.
All welcome – no booking required.

Park Nights at Serpentine Gallery Pavilion
Becky Beasley & Chris Sharp
Fri 24 Sept 8pm
Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens
13 pieces, 17 feet is a monologue in thirteen parts that finds its point of departure in Muybridge’s extraordinary 1878 San Francisco panorama.
Tickets £5/£4 from

Late at Tate: Eadweard Muybridge
Fri 1 Oct 6pm-10pm
Tate Britain, Millbank
An evening of Muybridge-inspired events.
Visit htpp:// for further details.

In Conversation: Trevor Appleson
Wed 6 October 7pm
Stanley Picker Gallery
Exploring Muybridge’s influence on contemporary arts practitioners.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8417 4074

Muybridge & Moving Image History
Thurs 14 Oct, 28 Oct & 11 Nov 7pm
Kingston Museum
Evening lecture series offering unique insights into the relationship between Muybridge’s work and the history of visuality, film and animation.
Limited seating – to reserve a FREE place please call 020 8547 6460

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.)

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