An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements
Commenced 1872 - Completed 1885 - Published 1887
It all began with a horse. In 1872, the former governor of California, Leland Stanford, hired Eadweard Muybridge to make a photograph that would be the first of its kind: a picture capturing the gate of his racehorse Occident galloping at full speed. Thus began Muybridge’s quest to develop high-speed photography that could capture “animal locomotion”.
On June 15th, 1878, the press was invited to witness Muybridge's early achievements in this area: using a bank of 12 cameras on a Palo Alto race track which (with shutters triggered by a tripwire) he could capture the movements of a galloping horse. The news of this innovation was reported across the world—publishers could not yet reproduce high quality photographs, so magazines like Scientific American printed the images using wood engravings.
Muybridge was invited to continue this work at the University of Pennsylvania and between 1883 and 1886 he worked prolifically, creating sequential images with his multi-camera setup in his new outdoor studio. He recruited athletes and local residents as models, and even borrowed animals from the Philadelphia Zoo. The photos were published in 1887 as a 11 volume collotype portfolio with 781 plates: Animal Locomotion: an Electro-photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements.
After the portfolio was published, Muybridge travelled widely, lecturing on the "Science of Animal Locomotion". He used a device he had invented, the “zoopraxiscope”, to project his photographs in an early motion picture technique and, thus, operated the first commercial movie theaters.