Christopher Bray

A Visionary Victorian

Motion Studies: Time, Space and Eadweard Muybridge


Bloomsbury 320pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

THE EXACT POSITION of a horse’s four legs at any given moment during a race; the beery spume of water gliding over rocks; a couple locked dead still in an embrace, while behind them the city’s frantic whirl goes on: photography is miraculous, in that it grants us visions of what the eye could not otherwise see. But photography is malign too, in that it encourages us to stop seeing at all. Show me a professional photographer and I will show you someone for whom life is an abstraction; show me an amateur photographer and I will show you someone letting life pass them by. So quickly can a tourist move from snapping one vista to another, from one monument to another, that nothing is actually witnessed: photography is a kind of aesthetic false-memory syndrome.

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