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

The Weird Adventures of Eadweard Muybridge

Coming soon to BBC1 (UK): The Weird Adventures of Eadweard Muybridge – an episode of the Imagine… series. Your dedicated blogger will possibly appear in this, fluffing and spluttering his way through answers to a question or two. My interview took place in the lecture theatre of the Royal Institution, where Muybridge lectured in the 1880s – and not improved by the seating having recently been upholstered in an unforgivable shade of cerise.

Tuesday, 22:35 on BBC One (except Northern Ireland, Wales)

“Pioneer photographer, forefather of cinema, showman, murderer – Eadweard Muybridge was a Victorian enigma. He was born and died in Kingston upon Thames, but did his most famous work in California – freezing time and starting it up again, so that for the first time people could see how a racing horse’s legs moved. He went on to animate the movements of naked ladies, wrestlers, athletes, elephants, cockatoos and his own naked body, projecting his images publicly with a machine he invented and astounding audiences worldwide with the first flickerings of cinema. Alan Yentob follows in Muybridge’s footsteps as he makes – and often changes – his name, and sets off to kill his young wife’s lover. With Andy Serkis as Muybridge.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00wdlkz

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

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.
http://www.stanleypickergallery.org/index_more.htm

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


http://www.kingston.ac.uk/pressoffice/news/134/19-10-2010-flying-horses-to-avatar—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.

http://www.muybridgeinkingston.com/event.php

Posted here by Stephen Herbert

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.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/sep/04/eadweard-muybridge-exhibition-rebecca-solnit

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.”

http://www.timeout.com/london/art/article/1497/eadweard-muybridge-running-man

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.“

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/7980477/Eadweard-Muybridge-the-moving-story-of-a-mysterious-pioneer.html

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.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/7985248/Eadweard-Muybridge-at-Tate-Britain-review.html

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.”

http://www.culture24.org.uk/art/photography+%26+film/early+photography/ART308416

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.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/c318226a-bc4f-11df-8c02-00144feab49a.html

Posted here by Stephen Herbert