I’ve always loved the (possibly apocryphal) story of Leland Stanford’s bet as to whether all four hooves of a galloping horse leave the ground at the same time. Regardless of the veracity of the tale, it’s not hard to claim that Stanford’s interest in solving the riddles of equine locomotion made possible the earliest of motion pictures. Thanks, that is, to his patronage of a strange, but well-regarded western landscape photographer.
I recently received the gift of a lovely behemoth of a book: “Eadweard Muybridge: The Human and Animal Locomotion Photographs.” It’s filled with page after page of reproductions of Muybridge‘s revolutionary motion studies all spurred on by Leland Stanford’s hunch.
Although his work produced the first photographically recorded moving image, the plates in the book are most inspiring to me in their still, non-animated form. The little frozen moments are reminders of how much we don’t see – how much is invisible to us – at the rate the world moves.