Title: The human figure in motion: an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of muscular actions. Author: Muybridge, Eadweard, Nov 7, The Human Figure In Motion Photo Album – Eadweard Muybridge. Muybridge first photographed the human figure in motion on March 4th However, he did not focus on the human body until his contract at Pennsylvania.
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The Human Figure In Motion 1907 Photo Album – Eadweard Muybridge
Muybridge first photographed the human figure in motion on March 4th However, he did not focus on the human body until his contract at Pennsylvania University began in Mayresulting in two volumes of work dedicated to photographs of human subjects. This extensive work depicted men, women and children variously running, jumping, falling and carrying out athletic or mundane activities.
This section of Muybridge’s work reiterates the imperative Muybridge felt to explore time in modernity, as explored here through ‘Animals in Motion’.
However, it also depicts, and perhaps helps consolidate a specifically American set of contemporary aspirations and ideals surrounding identity at Pennsylvania University.
Human Figure in motion | Eadweard Muybridge Collection – Spotlight at Stanford
As discussed in ‘Foreign Bodies’, the eadwerad Century in North America embodied strict racial hierarchies which helped unite the ‘civilized’ democratic world as a team, whilst validating the occupation of Native American Land. But this hierarchy was not only produced through the negative representation of non-western people.
Racial ideals were configured for a new generation of western individuals too. And just as photography helped define non-western stereotypes ni helped inscribe a new set of aspirations for westerners.
Eadweard Muybridge Collections
In his motion photography, Muybridge only used one non-white model – Ben Bailey – a mixed race male. Interestingly, Muybridge never used an anthropometric grid behind his subjects until he photographed Bailey, and never photographed the human figure without one afterwards Brown, p As Brown states, anthropometric grids were commonly used in 19th Century ethnographic photography to make objective studies of non-western bodies: Grids were particularly useful in this way as they gave photographic work the ‘aesthetic of science – dispassionate, orderly, coherent’ Solnit,p which helped boost the truth-value of the photograph, and therefore helped inscribe racial stereotypes.
Gridded photographs of Ben Bailey helped situate him as ‘a racialised object’, reinforcing common negative stereotypes of the time surrounding primitivism and hyper-virility through his particularly muscular frame Brown, p These males were athletic, but not so overtly muscular, and represented a wider societal desire for young white males to achieve both intellectual and physical excellence; itself a subversion of stereotypes born from the previous generation of American intellectuals, who had suffered widely from neurasthenia.
Bailey thus un a frighteningly exaggerated version of the physical ideal, whereas Muybridge’s white male subjects – mostly students and athletes from Pennsylvania University – represented a balanced version of this new aspiration for the next generation of American intellectual leaders.
Pictures of men engaged in sporting events including fencing and boxing, as well as figurd physical activities such mption hammering and lathing helped reinforce the dimensions of this new ideal masculinity – competitive, athletic and physically as well as intellectually able. Just as ideals of maleness were embodied by Muybridge’s photography, so were images of femininity. These were more traditionally entrenched, but persuasive nonetheless. Women were pictured in graceful, domestic or maternal stances – and as is often the case in artistic representation, displayed for the viewer in representations far more sexualized than any pragmatic male nudity: Therefore white male athletic bodies and female sexualized domestic bodies represented racial stereotypes and social hierarchies just as clearly as images of Ben Bailey.
The plain contrast between medical abnormality and the physical ideal represented by this work clearly illustrates the 19th century trend of racial and bodily hierarchy Muybridge’s work functioned within.
We might find this horrifying now, but we must not blame Muybridge for his sensibilities.
Eadweard Muybridge Collections – Muybridge : Image & Context
A man of his time, Muybridge is an essential orator for the world he inhabited. Eadweard Muybridge’s Locomotion Studies In Gender and History Vol 17 no 3 Nov pp Cresswell ,Tim ‘Capturing mobility: Hargreaves, Roger The Beautiful and the Damned: Solnit, Rebecca Motion Studies: I, Space and Eadweard Muybridge.
Human Figure in Motion. Alternative Slideshows Introducing Muybridge.