Muybridge’s Scrapbook: a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship project

This resource concerns the development of a new research project – initiated by the Visual and Material Culture Research Centre at the School of Art and Design HistoryKingston University, and supported by The Leverhulme Trust – around the unique archival Scrapbook of the photographic and moving-image pioneer Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), conserved at the Kingston Museum in England.

The project focuses on the Scrapbook within the wider context of the origins of moving-image projection, and of issues of contemporary archival forms and digitisation processes. The ‘Muybridge’s Scrapbook: Tracing Cinema’s Origins’ project forms part of an ongoing series of forward-looking collaborations between the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture at Kingston University and the Kingston Museum, notably the AHRC-funded project, Eadweard Muybridge: Defining Modernities, which forms the first comprehensive overview of the worldwide collections of Muybridge artefacts, and highlights the status of the Kingston Museum’s own collection – the unique personal collection of Muybridge himself, which he bequeathed to the Kingston Museum on his death in 1904 – in relation to those collections, with the intention of instigating future collaborative alliances.

The ‘Muybridge’s Scrapbook’ project also connects with the recent exhibition devoted to Muybridge’s work, focusing especially on his extraordinary Zoopraxiscope projection discs, at the Kingston Museum. The exhibition, curated by Peta Cook, ran from October 2010 until March 2011.

Eadweard Muybridge compiled and annotated his Scrapbook in the final years of his life, assembling it from materials he had amassed throughout the preceding decades as documentation of his experiments (such as press accounts of his public projection events with the Zoopraxiscope). The Scrapbook forms a unique, self-created and illuminating memory-archive of Muybridge’s work, and may be viewed in the archival context of other scrapbooks compiled by artists and moving-image pioneers, such as Tatsumi Hijikata and Antonin Artaud, formed through the accumulation (often, an ephemeral or covert process of assembly) of fragments of images and text that, in their contemporary survival, vitally reveal interconnected creative processes. Central to the ‘Muybridge’s Scrapbook’ project is the development of plans for the future digitisation of the Scrapbook, again in the archival context of the parallel and ongoing digitisation of formative documents by artists and moving-image pioneers, such as those of the Berlin-based film-innovators of the 1890s, Max and Emil Skladanowsky.

The first part of the project has been the researching and writing of a monograph on Muybridge’s Scrapbook and the multiplicitous ways in which it reveals insights into his work, into moving-image cultures, and into contemporary digital media. This part of the project has now been completed. The research monograph, entitled ‘Muybridge: The Eye in Motion’, was published in the UK in 2012 by Solar Books, and distributed in the USA by the University of Chicago Press. In the ‘Home’ section, you can read the Introduction to the monograph.

The next stage of the project, planned for 2016 onwards, is intended to take the form of three original research projects around Muybridge’s work and his collection of documents and artefacts conserved at the Kingston Museum, together with the taking-forward of plans for the digitisation of the Scrapbook.

If you would like to contact me about the ‘Muybridge’s Scrapbook: Tracing Cinema’s Origins’ project, please send me an email at: stephen.barber@kingston.ac.uk

Stephen Barber

Visual and Material Culture Research Centre, Kingston University, UK

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