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I'm an eye

I checked out a book a couple of weeks ago and it has sparked my interest. It is part of the reading list for this module and I've found it can be related to a lot of the ways I think about the world. "The ways of seeing" by John Berger. The book is about the way we look at art and the relationship that is created between a viewer and the art. It is also about the conventions of the way we look at art, the assumptions that we have made and the formula that has been created in order for you to realise and appreciate art. Well, that's what I got from it. There are several passages that I have found interesting but one I re-read today and realised I had read it before in another article in the "British journal of photography annual 1975".

" I'm an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it. I free myself for today and forever from human immobility. I'm in constant movement. I approach and pull away from objects. I creep under them. I move alongside a running horse's mouth. I fall and rise with the falling and rising bodies. This is I, the machine, manoeuvring in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations."

                                                                                                                                      Dziga Vertov, 1923

He talks about the camera and being a film director he will be talking about the film camera. But I really like this statement, it breaks down what a photographer with a camera is. We are explorers, demonstrating the world in which we see it and how we interpret the world around us. We are voyeurs of the world and we gain pleasure from being immersed in it. We are in movement with it, not fighting against the current but flowing with it examining and documenting every step of the way. I have always said which many others do not agree with that photography and science go hand in hand. Photography is the bridge between art and science not just for the chemical reactions and light side but it helped people explore the world and create a tangible memory. Art and science have always fought but in my opinion photography filled in the gap and also helped skeptics become a part of the art world.  People are usually afraid and ignorant of something they do not understand. The godfather of film and animation Eadweard Muybridge helped build this bridge and it was all because of a bet. "The horse in motion" was a bet made by horse owner and governor of California Leland Stanford in 1872 that at least one of the horse's hooves stay on the ground at one point. So, Muybridge set up a series of camera with timers to take a series of shots demonstrating the way a horse runs.

And as the video shows, all four hooves do lift from the ground and shows the horse almost gliding through the air at one point in its run. Muybridge had made history and changed the way scientists thought the animal moved. At this time and even today it was revolutionary to be able to use this technique to actually change the way we see the world. Muybridge spent a lot of his career looking at the way the human body moved conducting a series of experiments involving people throwing objects, walking up and down stairs, watching the way the body moved and how it reacted with the world. Many artists including Francis bacon used his sequences to create paintings.

                      Paralytic Child walking on all fours (from Muybridge) 1961, Francis Bacon

Infantile paralysis; child walking on hands and feet, plate 539 from 'Animal Locomotion', 1887

As can be seen, Bacon has used the sequence of this child walking and transformed it into a painting. Bacon frequently used his sequences from the books "The human figure in motion" and "Animal Locomotion". I find it fascinating how this collaboration was used to understand the human body and also the deterioration of the body, something Bacon had also dealt with frequently in his work as well as mental deterioration. After seeing Muybridge's work a few years ago it inspired me to create my own animations using photographs which can be seen in "Floating Motion" on an earlier blog. I feel for my final media product for this module the outcome will become some kind of animation and/or a series of images/stills, but on what topic I am not certain of as of yet. Until next time...


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