Laurence Miller: This is our fifth or sixth time participating at The Art Show. We are going to do a one person exhibition of works by Eadweard Muybridge, who did this extraordinary, very large body of pictures about human and animal locomotion in 1887. We decided to animate them, I mean, these are really the real precursors to cinema, we produced a video which we gonna feature at the art show, where we animate about ten or fifteen of them and they’re remarkable when you see them animated, and then it makes you go back and look at the originals. Some are quite rare, you never see them around, some you see often, and the question we were most often asked was why are they so cheap.
He wanted to kind of create an encyclopedic look at how people and then subsequently animals moved. The origins of his work were back in 1872 when Leland Stanford commissioned Muybridge to prove that all of his race horses hooves left the ground simultaneously. Muybridge was able to develop enough technology at that point to make a photograph that would actually freeze the horse’s hooves in midair. And he then created this series which has 781 different plates comprised from over 20,000 different photographs. Plate 781 is of a torpedo exploding next to a chicken, and I think Muybridge at that time was probably going a little nuts, and if you had to solve the same problem 781 times maybe you’d blow the chicken up a little sooner.
I think vaudeville played a big role in these, a lot of them make me think of Buster Keaton and silent films. There is a one of a contortionist on a ground which we are going to feature actually on the outside wall by itself at the art show. It’s more about five or six positions but it’s such an elegant photograph.
When you get into stop-action, when you get into certain points of view, you would never conceive of that point of view unless you are looking from the camera, and I like that about the medium otherwise I might as well just show painting. Whenever we introduce them to an international art context the response is overwhelming and we practically sell out everything.
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