Eadweard Muybridge - Horse in Motion

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A panel from the strip-cartoon biography in Camera Comics no. 4 (US Camera Publishing Corporation, 1944)

Eadweard Muybridge, a 19th century photographer, sought to survey the booming state of California with his camera, while simultaneously documenting the newest technologies such as the railroad. In his pictures, Muybridge exploited all of the camera’s abilities. His lifelong efforts to adapt new technologies and extend their areas of application are a worthy source of inspiration for PrestoCentre and its members.
In 1872, Muybridge’s photographic skills were called on to prove whether a galloping horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in its sequence of motion. Muybridge refined the available methods of instantaneous photography, introducing specially designed equipment that worked at faster speeds. By 1878 he was photographing horses in motion using batteries of cameras, their shutters triggered by the horse’s movement over trip wires. The results were a technical and conceptual breakthrough.

Artist's impression of Muybridge's multi-camera arrangement. Illustrated London News 18 July 1931
In their published form, they laid out the span of time captured by the cameras as a sequence of stop-motion images unlike anything that had been seen before. It resulted in the publication of a well-known series of cabinet cards entitled The Horse in Motion, which showed a number of racehorses in action. Read sequentially as individual images, these cabinet cards evoke a comic-strip description of action taking place.

Image: The Horse in motion. “Sallie Gardner,” owned by Leland Stanford; running at a 1:40 gait over the Palo Alto track, 19th June 1878 Muybridge. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The famous Horse in Motion inspired the PrestoCentre logo. The horse, a symbol for strength at the start of technological advancement and potential, stands ready for a race against time. Not long after, the horse is speeding, all its feet off the ground and no time to lose, running through times of Technicolor, digitization and 3D. A rider takes over control, holding on firmly, looking back while riding forwards, taking note of the past and calling out to keep our audiovisual heritage alive.