Eadweard Muybridge Photographer Pioneer Tate Britain

Eadweard Muybridge (British-born 1830) left the London suburb of Kingston in the middle of the 19th century, to make his name and seek his fortune in the New World. Muybridge is now recognised at home and abroad as one of the most important pioneering photographers of the Victorian age. He emigrated to the United States in the 1850s pushing the limits of new camera technology. He experimented with the possibilities of creating images of animals and humans in motion. This was unexplored territory and like the Wild West beyond the reach of conservative prejudices. His work also explored vast panoramas of American landscapes, such as the Yosemite Valley, and his documentation of the rapidly growing west coast of America, particularly in San Francisco has been an important historic record of the times. Muybridge’s dramatic life included extensive travels in North and Central America, a career as a successful lecturer, and the scandal of his trial for the murder of his wife’s lover. His great achievement was conceptual, he made time visible in space. His studies of locomotion are the first permanent visual record of motion frozen in time. Eadweard Muybridge - Tate BritainMuybridge demonstrates what water looks like, second by second, as it is hurles from a bucket held by a nude female model representing a classical Grecian form. Utilizing a series of cameras tripped by electrical switches he captures time as a flowing stream, going through it’s momentary passage, incising lines and ripples on the faces of rocks beneath the surface. Almost magically, Muybridge devised ways of enabling us to see that stealthy entropy at work in nature. Time is written into the sedimentary layers of the cliffs he photographed, or computed in the rings of the inconceivably ancient and enormous Californian sequoias. Muybridge’s use of stop motion photography has often been credited as the predecessor to modern motion pictures. In his lifetime he should have been rewarded for his contribution to the scientific community, his anatomical studies alone are still used in medical schools worldwide. Sadly he was never regarded as more then a fairground curiosity an accolade that must have haunted him until his death, in Kingston Upon Thames, in 1904.

Eadweard Muybridge -The Photographer Who Proved Horses Could Fly

Tate Britain 8 September 2010  –  16 January 2011