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Muybridge Studies


Computer-Aided Design, Animation, Digital Fabrication, 3D Printing


Time-lapse Video, Wet Earthenware Clay


Muybridge Studies are a series of multi-media animation experiments around the photography of Eadweard Muybridge.

Known as one of the first ever to create a "motion picture", Muybridge assembled a vast collection of photographic sequences depicting humans and animals in locomotion. From Dadaists like Duchamp, to Futurists like Umberto Boccioni, the work of Muybridge inspired subsequent generations of artists to produce objects and images that ask us to rethink time, space, and the body in motion.

Using his gait photo sequences as starting points, these Muybridge Studies pose questions around emergent medias: What can digital tools and processes add to this conversation? Can motion be 3D printed? What objects, with these photographic sequences as a framework, might digital fabrication processes yield


Muybridge Studies employ computer-numeric-controlled machines to render frames of animation and, as a byproduct, produce objects that occupy four dimensions (length, width, depth and time). They ask us to ponder - as Eadweard Muybridge did - the body in motion, and our relationship to space and time.

Many artists of the 19th, 20th and 21st century have taken inspiration from the photo sequences of Eadweard Muybridge. These series, many of which depict the gait of various humans and animals, entered the public domain, internationally, in 2004. Here, they are used as a starting point to investigate form, motion and time through a series of computer-numeric controlled drawings and 3d printing experiments.

To produce the studies for this body of research, each "frame" from a Muybridge photographic sequence is first traced to create a series of silhouettes.  This is done using Rhinoceros, a CAD environment, and Grasshopper, a visual programming environment for Rhinoceros.

The frames between each keyframe can be interpolated by lofting the silhouettes, and then intersecting that loft with a three-dimensional helix.  The intersection yields a continuous spiral tool path in the shape of the interpolated surface.

Pictured above, this toolpath is used to program movements of a ceramic 3D printer (read about the Open-Source Clay Printer project here).  A DSLR camera is used to capture a time lapse (a series of images over time) of the printing process.  Here, a custom-built programmable camera dolly is used to add a sweeping motion to the time lapse video.

The spiral tool path can also be flattened for two-dimensional experiments, such as in this animation of Muybridge's Cat Galloping photo sequence.

Above, a drawing plotter is set up with a "disappearing ink" pen.  The flattened spiral tool path is used to create a machine-drawn animation.  The resulting drawing and vanishing ink palimpsest is reminiscent of that seen in the charcoal animations of William Kentridge.

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