Motion pictures present Modernity

Eadweard Muybridge creation of being able to capture pictures in motion was a facinating yet controversal contribution to the world. Muybridge’s interest with capturing the muscles of animals and viewing images that the human eye was unable to see on its own was a factor that inspired him to explore the topic. However, in Rebecca Solnit’s article River of Shadows, she discusses how difficult it was for people living during the ninteenth century to accept this concept of a motion picture. “Annihilating time and space is what most new techologies aspire to do…” (Solnit 11).  The railroads made transportation faster, instead of relying only on the horse, and according to Solnit, the invention of writing enhanced communication, in which it stories were more accessible in more than one place. As a result of these new techonolgies improving the lives of many people, can we say that, Muybridge’s creation of the motion picture was just as useful? Did these motion pictures make sense to those living during the nineteenth century?

Primarily, I thought that Muybridge’s motion pictures did not cause controversey, yet many people were doubtful. One factor that contributed to the doubt people obtained was William James idea about the conscious mind. James explained that the human mind is constantly working, and forming new thoughts; that it is impossible to see the same images twice.  Some people accepted this idea, and therefore found it diffcult to believe in Muybridge’s motion pictures that presented the same images over again.

Perhaps Muybridge presents his work in a catelog form to show the relation between the text and or the narrative and the picture. For example, Muybridge writes “Lion walking” 129 to prepare the reader that a lion walking is what he or she will see on page 129. The categorical form  acts in an evident way to show that pictures can correspond to texts as well.

Although Muybridge’s motion pictures created conflict among the nineteenth century population, he was “a doorway between the old world and ours, and to follow him where the choices that got us here” (Solnit 24). This quote suggests that Muybridge’s creation was the start of the new motion pictures  techologies we utilize today, such as 2 dimenional and 3 dimensional pictures we find entertaining. People eventually accepted the idea of being able to capture images in motion because this idea has been expanded and has become part of the 20th century culture.

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1 Response to Motion pictures present Modernity

  1. Dominique says:

    Great post — though I really want you to go back to Trachtenberg and isolate exactly what he says about the catalog or “the inventorial form.” (See page 291 in that reading.) Then try to apply his this to what you observe about Muybridge. If you follow up, I’m happy to add on a point!


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