Monday, November 3, 2014


Muybridge's work was specifically created for the purpose of stopping action. It was analytical; he strove to freeze motion, to hold still for our contemplation the most rapid muscular movements of man and beast. In doing so he was unwittingly creating the basis for moving pictures. All that was necessary to recreate the motion he had analyzed was to put the individual photographs in rapid succession before the eyes of an audience.
Rough hand-drawn analyses had long been shown in toys, the phenakistoscope or the zoetrope. Marey had tried unsuccessfully to make a scientific study of animal locomotion by this means in 1867. Posed photographs had been projected in sequence by Heyl in Philadelphia in 1870. But Muybridge was the first to show action photographs in one of the primitive motion-picture machines. To do this, he fastened a number of slides on a large disk. On the same axis but revolving in the opposite direction was another disk with slots along its radius. An arc light, a condenser, and a lens threw the images of the slides onto a screen. The motion recreated this way was of very brief duration. Each revolution of the wheel duplicated the previous action on the screen, so that the audience viewed a horse monotonously going through his paces again and again.