Stop-action photography has become an integral part of our lives. It allows us to watch the beauty of a dancer, the grace of an athlete or the motion of an animal one frame at a time. It is hard to believe that until Edweard Muybridge began his study of animal locomotion with photography in the late 19th century, we were limited to only what the eye could see or what was in a single photograph. In celebration of Muybridge’s birthday, the Library of Congress has uploaded a number of Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion images from its collections into Flickr.
The horse in motion, illus. by Muybridge. “Sallie Gardner,” owned by Leland Stanford, running at a 1:40 gait over the Palo Alto track, 19 June 1878: 2 frames showing diagram of foot movements
Colleagues in both the Prints and Photographs Division and the Science Division found plenty to write about this set, underscoring how it straddles science, technology, and art. In “Eadweard Muybridge: Birth of a Photographic Pioneer” Kristi Finefield noted how the camera recorded and revealed new insights about motion. “What the human eye could not capture at the time, Muybridge’s series of cameras, often operating on timers, could. And so, viewers of the late 19th century were able to see in a sequence of photos every step taken by a horse at full gallop, the sleek movements of a cat running and each flap of the wings of a bird in flight.” In “Animal Locomotion: From Antiquity to the 21st Century,” Jennifer Harbster traces the history of the study of animal locomotion. She suggests that “By studying nature and observing animal movement scientists can better understand biomechanics, physiology, evolution, physics, and engineering.” And so, we might add, can students!
Students can examine Muybridge’s work, including a few examples of zoopraxiscopes which helped to bring movement to still images. How can students use Muybridge’s photographs as part of science and artistic activities? Here are a few suggestions:
- Ask students to select one sequence of “Animal locomotion” images, perhaps a horse or a cat running, and compare the sequence to the experience watching the action. What can be learned from the images that is not observable from the live action?
- Direct students to one of Muybridge’s images of birds in motion. How might a sequence of a bird in flight have shaped the experiments of early aviators?
The zoopraxiscope – a couple waltzing
- Invite students to brainstorm as many ways as they can that this technology has changed the way we live our lives. What scientific or technological developments were made easier because of this technology?
- Kristi explained that the zoopraxiscope was a device Muybridge developed for use in presentations, giving the audience the impression of movement. What might you learn about dance from seeing a zoopraxiscope of a couple waltzing?
What do your students see differently through the lens of Edweard Muybridge?
Looking for ways to celebrate libraries and National Library Week using Library of Congress primary sources? Here are some suggestions.
In honor of National Poetry Month we decided to introduce you to Peter Armenti of the Digital Reference Team. You may have seen some of Peter’s work in the Library of Congress Blog, “From the Catbird Seat” where he highlights poetry resources from the Library’s collections.
T.S. Eliot thought April was the cruelest month. William Carlos Williams thought it was the saddest. Longfellow and Ogden Nash said they loved it, and Emily Dickinson was ambivalent, so far as I can tell. There’s at least one thing about April that they might all appreciate, though: It’s National Poetry Month, an opportunity for […]
This post is by Rebecca Newland, the Library of Congress 2013-14 Teacher in Residence. As a school librarian, I’ve found that book clubs can draw students into my library and into books by socializing reading. One way to engage students with what they’re reading, without turning an extra-curricular club into a class, is to introduce Library […]
April 1 is an appropriate day for remembering that, even though primary sources are a powerful teaching tool, they can also fool you.
Most people don’t think of dance as a way to bring history to life. Looking at dancers in photographs, films and other images and reading about dancing and its role in celebrations, commemorations and other events can help students learn about what issues and events were considered important in a community, how people celebrated, what mores and values were important and how people dressed when going to certain events.
April highlights include the celebration of the first Earth Day (introductory; advanced) and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (introductory; advanced)
We engage our students in learning, and then we hope that their learning continues to spread, influencing others around them. Many times, we don’t see the effect of our influence until years later. In my role as a literacy coach, staff developer, and writing project teacher consultant, and because I don’t have students of my own, I always feel that my job is to drop pebbles and stand back as the professionals I work with create unpredictable and beautiful ripples.
Most of us take safe working conditions for granted, but few of us reflect that many of the regulations keeping us safe grew out of tragedy. On March 25, 1911, a fire swept through the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, killing 146 men and women, many of them recent immigrants. It was later […]