by Myya McGregory

The Zoopraxiscope- a couple waltzing from the Library of Congress archives

Eadweard Muybridge developed the zoopraxiscope in 1876. The zoopraxiscope was a very complicated device that featured a large lense, a lamp, and a motor to show successive images printed on 16″ glass in simulated motion. This invention garnered much praise for Muybridge and he is credited as the father of the motion picture.

The National Museum of American History is exploring an interesting aspect of Muybridge’s work. They question whether his photogrpahic invention was science or art. Muybridge was able to capture incremental elements of motion and expose them in ways never seen before. While at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1880s, Muybridge began the project of documenting human and animal locomotion. Using up to 36 different lenses and two dozen cameras each placed at 30, 60, and 90 degrees to the subject, Muybridge produced 36 negatives. The negatives were enlarged and then inked on glass plates. The succession of images, when showed on the zoopraxiscope revealed an almost scientific precision. Find out more in the Cinema Issue.


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