The projectionists : Eadweard Muybridge and the future projections of the moving image

Barber, Stephen (2020) The projectionists : Eadweard Muybridge and the future projections of the moving image. Chicago, U.S. : University of Chicago Press. 208p. ISBN 9783035802894


Moving image projection - from its origins to its contemporary forms, and especially at its formative moments of extreme experimentation - has acted as a seminal presence in the formulation and imagining of new corporealities and of new urban spaces, through its irrepressible capacity to envision future bodies and cities. The cinema projectionist is often a figure of obsession and restlessness, inhabiting a profession - touched with the addictions and death of the moving image - that was once vital for cinema audiences worldwide but is now consigned to obsolescence. The celebrated photographic innovator Eadweard Muybridge was the first moving-image projectionist, in the final years of his career, relentlessly touring Europe’s cities with his own self-designed projector, the ‘Zoopraxiscope’, to animate his sequences of human and animal locomotion, to wild acclaim. Muybridge’s very last innovation was the installation at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of the first purpose-built auditorium for the projection of moving images to public spectators: an innovation which propelled Muybridge’s work into catastrophe and oblivion, at the first moment of cinema’s existence. This book is based on entirely new, original research into Muybridge’s moving-image tours, especially his 1891 Central European tour, and his Chicago projections, about which almost nothing has been known until now. Muybridge’s work was always dually focused on art and spectacle, and this book examines projection experiments directly inspired or enabled by his innovations across both domains: the Skladanowsky Brothers’ adapting of Muybridge’s work for the first cinematic projections, of bodies and cities, in Germany in 1895-97, the instigation of spectacular immersive projection auditoria at the 1970 Osaka World Expo, and the artist Teiji Furuhashi’s 1994/2016 digital installation Lovers with its Muybridge-inspired vanishing corporealities. This book also explores contemporary urban projections as aberrant manifestations of Muybridge’s first envisioning of projection’s power for its spectators. Throughout, the book interrogates the enigmatic figure of the transient moving-image projectionist, embodied first of all by Muybridge himself.

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