The purpose of this research point was to go online and look at the work of Eadweard Muybridge, Duane Michals, Keith Arnatt Self Burial (1909), John Hilliard and Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip.
For each of the artists the task was to identify how each was using sequence differently and try and find inspiration within their work.
Wikipedia (2018) indicates that Eadweard Muybridge was born on the 9th April 1830 and died 8th May 1904. Throughout his life he changed his name a number of times. His birth name was Edward James Muggeridge.
Although he was initially a bookseller, it was following a stagecoach crash in 1860 that he took up photography.
In 1874, Muybridge shot and killed his wife’s lover Major Harry Larkyns. His subsequent trial led to him being acquitted.
Muybridge is best known for his work on animal motion.
Hacking (2014 pp 144-145) contains an analysis of a collodion positive on glass called “Leland Stanford, Jr on his pony ‘Gypsy'” that was taken at Palo Alto Stock Farm, the site of the modern day Stanford University.
The image shows the son of Leland Stanford, a Californian governor, the horse Gypsy and the horse’s trainer and was captured using up to 12 camera’s which were triggered by wires connected to them by the horse as it moved through the area covered by the cameras. A technique that most photographers now would not be able to replicate easily.
Muybridge used the same technique to capture greyhounds running.
Time 100 Photos “The Horse in Motion” shows the piece of work that Muybridge is probably best known for. The project was undertaken at the request of Stanford in order to answer the question, when galloping did all four of a horses hoofs leave the ground at the same time. The resulting 12 images proved that while galloping, a horse is completely off the ground for a brief moment. These individual images when played shown rapidly one after the other are an example of the earliest form of stop motion animation.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica in their entry for Eadweard Muybridge provide another example of his motion work, which shows that his interest wasn’t just limited to the movement of animals but also that of people.
The images captured by Muybridge using this technique can be replicated a lot easily using the technology availalbe to us in the 21st century. Modern, digital cameras are capable of capturing multiple images in fractions of a second.
Muybridge’s work uses sequences of images in order to better understand how a person or animal moves. Something that is of use to scientists and artists.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1932, Duane Michals is a self-taugh photographer who defines himself as a narrator.
Hacking (2014 pp 340-341) provides an analysis of Michals’ work Things Are Queer from 1973. This sequence of 9 images starts and ends with the same image, a depiction of a bathroom suite. From the second image in the sequence onwards the camera pulls back further and further, revealing more of the scene. As it does we find ourselves questioning what we are looking at. Is it a miniature bathroom with a normal sized person stood in it, or is it a photograph in a book. Where is the person standing reading the book. Is that person themselves part of something else, like a framed photograph or a mirror. Image by image we find ourselves faced with an infinite regression but Michals stops that regression by ending the sequence without the original image. Or has he, are we just about to start over?
Fundación MAPFRE (2017) shows a second work by Michals “Dr Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty”. This sequence has a woman looking at her image in a mirror while Michals captures photographs her. In our modern day world where people take selfies, this is almost the equivalent of someone taking a selfie of themselves taking a selfie of themselves taking a …
Keith Arnatt Self Burial
Keith Arnatt was born in 1930 and died in 2008, he was a conceptial artist. The course text dates “Self Burial” as 1909, in fact it is 1969.
Tate (2009) contains a copy of the 9 images that make up “Self Burial”. The sequence of images, which was shown on German television over the course of 9 nights with no explaination, show a landscape with a patch of ground into which a figure, because of the title Arnatt themself, disappears image by image into the ground, leaving just a patch of bare earth.
Arnatt is quoted as writing “The continual reference to the disappearance of the art object suggested to me the eventual disappearance of the artist himself” and this sequence reflects that.
John Hilliard is a photographer from Lancaster in England. He was born in 1945.
Hacking (2014 pp 414-415) shows provides an analysis of Hilliard’s “Cause of Death?”. This sequence of images provides different views of what appears to be a shrouded body. In each image the body is presented subtly differently. The image having been cropped in ways that allow the viewer to interpret it differently. Each image is also captioned in a way that influences that interpretation; crushed, drowned, burned and fell.
“Cause of Death?” shows that it is possible by framing an image in different ways to affect how it is seen, and so highlighting that photography can be used to tell the story you want rather than the actual situation depending on how you frame things.
Tate (2016) is another example of a sequence by Hlliard. Here we have a camera taking photographs, via mirrors, of itself. The images within the sequence change as aperture and speed change but the central image, the camera, remains the same. From this sequence we can see that even if we don’t change how we frame a subject, by changing how we capture it, we affect what is seen.
Ed Ruscha’s Every Building on Sunset Strip
This work by Ruscha presents “Every Building on Sunset Strip” as a sequence of images in a 25 foot long, accordion fold book; with one sequence of images at the top of the pages and a second set, upside down, at the bottom. Although, without a doubt, every building within the sequence would have been photographed at some point, it is the presentation format that makes this different.
Including all of the buildings must have made the project easier to some degree. The decision as to which buildings to include and which to leave out, had already been made; include all of them.
That decision, however, must also have made the project more difficult as there would have been a need to capture images of each building that Ruscha felt were suitable for inclusion in the end result.
Hacking (2014 pp 408-409) describes how Ruscha achieved this.
“To photograph Every Building on the Sunset Strip Ed Ruscha loaded a continous strip of black-and-white 35mm film into his morotr-driven Nikon F2 mounted on a tripod in the bed of a pick-up truck. He then snapped photographs at regular intervals as he drove down Sunset Strip”.
Hacking doesn’t say whether this drive was a one off or whether Ruscha had to repeat the activity a number of times.
With the technology available to us today, whether a project like this would be done has to be considered. When phones, cameras and camcorders provide the capability to drive down a street and record what you see, then replay the recording, why go to the effort of capturing something and then presenting it in a book format?
If you wanted to present a series of images in a book format then modern video editing software provides the ability to capture stills from a recording, reduces a project like this one to a technical exercise.
Muybridge’s work relates to photography as a source of documentary or fact. Michals’ work is more to do with the metaphysical aspects of life. The specific piece of Arnatt’s work highlighted here shows art as metaphor for something else. Hilliard’s work highlights how we can influence what people see by the way as a result of how we capture it. Rucscha’s work demonstrates how when capturing a sequence of images, we also have to think outside the box sometimes when it comes to presenting them.
There are many ways that we can make use of a sequences of images. How we do that will be influenced by lots of different factors. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want the person viewing them to think in any particular way when they see them? Is there a particular format that we want to use to display the end result? Are we reflecting fact or some more nebulous idea?
- Wikipedia, 2018. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadweard_Muybridge [Accessed 19th February 2018]
- The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Eadweard Muybridge. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Eadweard-Muybridge [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
- Time 100 Photos. The Horse in Motion. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/eadweard-muybridge-horse-in-motion [Accessed 19th February 2018]
- Hacking J. (2014) Photography: The Whole Story. 2nd edition pp 144-145, 340-341, 414-415 and 408-409. London: Thames and Hudson.
- Fundación MAPFRE, 2017. Duane Michals. Available at: https://www.fundacionmapfre.org/fundacion/en/exhibitions/historical/2017/photography-duane-michals/ [Accessed 19th February 2018]
- Tate (2009) Self-Burial (Television Interference Project). Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-self-burial-television-interference-project-t01747 [Accessed: 19th February 2018]
- Tate (2016) Camera Recording its Own Condition (7 Apertures, 10 Speeds, 2 Mirrors) Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hilliard-camera-recording-its-own-condition-7-apertures-10-speeds-2-mirrors-t03116 [Accessed 19th February 2018]