Eadweard Muybridge British and American
Not on view
In 1872 Leland Stanford, former governor of California and president of the Central Pacific Railroad, asked Eadweard Muybridge to photograph a horse running at full speed. This simple request, intended to confirm Stanford's theory that all of the horse's feet were off the ground simultaneously at some point during its stride, launched Muybridge on a lifelong quest to record animals in motion. He developed an ingenious method of stop-action photography: a battery of twenty-four cameras triggered either at timed intervals or as the horse's legs tripped a wire suspended above the ground. The result was a sequence of discrete images representing postures previously invisible to the human eye. Although the individual images made the disposition of the body look awkward and unnatural, the lifelike movement of the images when seen in a zoetrope was so convincing that the pictures' veracity was irrefutable. The prints on display here-strikingly modern, abstract fragments of familiar, even banal, activities-are from a proof set of Muybridge's earliest published album of motion studies.