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Eadweard Muybridge at the Tate Britain

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Eadweard Muybridge was the man who famously proved that horses can fly. He had the eye of a photographer and the technological imagination of an inventor, and ended up combining both to be the first to take the first split second, successive photographs that could break down a second into its parts. Thus proving that at points mid gallop horses have zero hooves touching the ground – they can fly.

If this piece of news isn't enough to get you down to see the Muybridge exhibition at the Tate Britain, then here are a few more interesting facts about this most interesting of photographers:

Muybridge began his career in post Civil War America, where he took what our generation might think of as scenic postcards – scenes of America's great natural beauty and its native peoples.

Muybridge killed a man – the lover of his 19 year old bride and the father of her child. And then he got off, after a jury of 12 husbands deemed him to have been suitably provoked. After which he decamped to South America to take more scenic postcard photos of where the railways were pushing though.

When he came back, Muybridge moved to San Francisco, where he snapped some amazing panorama shots, made especially interesting by the fact that his San Francisco was largely destroyed in the fire a few years later.

As well as developing the technology that allowed him to take the split second photos of the horses – which was basically a line of very fast cameras all with their triggers attached to wires the horses would trip when they moved – Muybridge also put his images together on a sort of circular disk of celluloid, which he ran though a projector and called a zoopraxiscope. The resulting machine showed his images in quick succession – and this is before the advent of cinema, so it must have been a pretty exciting thing to behold.

In his later years, Muybridge used his technology to photograph people as well as animals, publishing a compiled book of his work on movement in which he appears. Final fact: our man had a bit of an ego.

Runs until the 16th of January.
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Why? You'll learn a lot
When: Until the 16th of January.
Where: 5 Atterbury St, Westminster, London SW1P 4, nearest tube station Pimlico
Cost: £10
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