Since we’re talking photography on THEME, here’s what interests us: in the early 1870s Muybridge developed a scheme for instantaneous picture capture. His technology involved prescriptive chemical bath formulas and an electrical trigger.
In July 1878, Muybridge successfully photographed a horse at a gallop using a series of fifty cameras. Each of the cameras was arranged along a track parallel to the horse’s, and each of the camera shutters were controlled by trip wires which were triggered by the horse’s hooves. This series of photos, taken at Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm, is called The Horse in Motion, and shows that, indeed, the feet all leave the ground.
Muybridge’s sponsor, Californian racehorse owner Leland Stanford, laid a wager on the contentious issue of whether a galloping horse was ever airborne. Muybridge proved: it was! By projecting the pictures in rapid succession to reproduce the horse’s motion, Muybridge laid the groundwork for the development of motion pictures cameras, and hence the entire cinematic industry. Muybridge produced, in fact, the first film ever!
Later on, after his acquittal, Muybridge left the U.S. for a lengthy planned photography expedition to Central America, where he particularly worked in Guatemala. Composer Glass, however, wasn’t the least bit interested in the explorer and photographer Muybridge. It’s about the personal melodrama.
Glass’ opera is a piece of abstract, repetitive music. Spherical and meditative, it reminds of the composer’s most famous work, the film music to Koyaanisqatsi.
Now here’s the mystically compelling The Photographer, a peculiar piece of chamber opera, gently assaulting one’s mind and ears:
You can purchase The Photographer — performed by Paul Zukofsky and the Philip Glass Ensemble — from Amazon.