Capturing Motion

Video Set-Ups for Driving, Cycling And Walking

Authored by: Eric Laurier

The Routledge Handbook of Mobilities

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415667715
eBook ISBN: 9781315857572
Adobe ISBN: 9781317934134


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Humans, animals and machines in motion can be hard to follow. As part of their quite ordinary practices their actions are done together and apart, in and out of synch. Borne ceaselessly forward their actions project, interrupt and align with one another. As we study them we find ourselves getting lost in amongst questions: What happened after that? Who did that? Did they do it at all? Methodologies for securing quite what did happen derived their impetus from a wager. Leland Stanford bets a considerable sum of money against John Isaac that while galloping, at certain points, a horse is no longer touching the ground. The photographer and camera-experimenter Edweard Muybridge is asked to provide evidence that will settle this wager one way or the other. One fast photograph of the ungrounded feet manages to settle the bet. The vestiges of that first inquiry remain with us in the photo-finish. That uncertain moment over, Stanford releases the resources to build the devices that allow Stanford and Muybridge to study galloping. The photographic mechanism for the proto-film recording is constructed from lines of still cameras along a track that are triggered by wires. The playback mechanism – called the zoopraxiscope — is another machine that then runs the images for the viewer. Muybridge tours the world with the zoopraxiscope, introducing the concept of the sequential film recording as a technology for an ambitious set of inquiries into the motion of humans and animals.

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