My Edward Muybridge Moments

As a medium-neutral artist, I find inspiration from things I see in my environment and then identify the medium that best fits what I’m trying to express.

One of the most inspiring pieces I’ve ever seen is The Horse in Motion by Edward Muybridge. This series, shot in 1877, was used to settle a simple question – is there a point at which a running horse has all four legs off the ground at the same time? Indeed there is – see the second picture on his contact sheet.

What I find inspiring about The Horse in Motion is the limits within which Muybridge worked to create his piece, and his resourcefulness. I am much more satisfied with a piece that is challenging to produce, than with a piece that is not.

A few years back I took his original piece and used it to create a cutout from brown, gray and black paper. The panels are purposefully off kilter. In the original series, each of his 16 shots was from a different camera, so they didn’t quite line up, and I wanted to capture that.

When I finished the piece, I did continue to work with cutouts though, and consider this to be one of my favorite mediums to work in. As for Muybridge though, I thought I’d quenched my thirst.

That is until last month...

I found a little digital key chain that can hold still pictures. You can set the time to automatically advance through the pictures at the unbearably slow speed of 5 seconds. I couldn’t think of any better pictures to slideshow, or ‘slideslow’ than The Horse in Motion!

Here’s what I did:

I took his contact sheet, and cropped each picture individually. I then uploaded it to the keychain in the right sequence. When you play it on the keychain there’s an ugly 1/16, 2/16, 3/16 that shows in red in the corner…But I sort of like that. It’s a more up-to-date version of Muybridge’s hand-written 1, 2, 3…that he had on the original contact sheet.

I then crossed my fingers as I pulled the circuitry from its plastic casing. Phew! It still worked. I didn’t want a key chain though, I wanted a pendant.

I got some balsa wood from the art store and made a little frame in which to put the gadget. I painted it silver to look like a metal frame…somewhatand, voila! Now I’ve got a Muybridge pendant. I carved a little hole in the side for the USB connector to get a charge through.

So now, my Muybridge thirst is quenched again…for now!