Jesse Birch

Nanaimo Art Gallery opens exhibit featuring work of Muybridge and Edgerton

NANAIMO - Nanaimo Art Gallery hosts Vancouver Art Gallery travelling exhibit, Out of Sight, featuring work of Muybridge and Edgerton.

Eadweard Muybridge and Harold Edgerton revolutionized motion capture photography.

Nanaimo art lovers have a rare opportunity to see the two artists’ work in the upcoming exhibit, Out of Sight, hosted by the Nanaimo Art Gallery.

“These (the photographs) were made for ostensibly scientific purposes, the development of technology, the development of knowledge, but they are also extremely beautiful,” said Jesse Birch, curator of the Nanaimo Art Gallery. “Muybridge’s are so regimented in their framing and so controlled, but it’s such a pleasure to be able to look at these individual images and to think about the processes of movement. Edgerton’s work is just stunning in its beauty.”

Birch said the correlation between the two artists’ work is the idea of stopping time, or depicting slices of time or frozen moments.

The photographs by Muybridge included in the exhibit are different series of sequential photos.

At first, Muybridge started taking photos of a horse in motion because a gentleman had a bet as to whether all four of a horse’s legs left the ground when it was galloping.

“Until Muybridge we didn’t actually perceive that this actually happened because they run so fast,” said Birch.

Birch said Muybridge devised a system of photography that allowed multiple images to be captured almost simultaneously and in sequence.

Once he finished with the images of the horse, Muybridge went on to capture a number of other subjects such as human movements, birds in flight and others.

“There is a bit of absurdity and humour in some of these,” said Birch about Muybridge’s work.

Muybridge created his work shortly after the advent of photography.

“The medium itself was relatively rare,” said Birch.

Birch said he thinks it’s an important time to think about photography or photographic history, “particularly when we are all carrying in our pocket a camera that can render high-resolution images just by a flick of a thumb.”

“This technology has a long history and the development of the medium has changed how we perceive the world and I think that’s important to remember,” said Birch.

Out of Sight is part of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Across the Province touring program. The exhibit runs at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, located at 150 Commercial St., from Saturday (Sept. 10) to Nov. 6. The opening reception is Friday (Sept. 9) at 7 p.m.

People can take a free tour with Birch to learn about the exhibit on Sept. 29 and Oct. 27 at noon.

As part of the exhibit, Kathleen Bartels, director of the Vancouver Art Gallery, will be making a presentation in the lobby of the Port Theatre on Oct. 18 at 4 p.m. to discuss the future of the Vancouver Art Gallery and new opportunities for B.C. artists.

Out of Sight is the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s last exhibit of the year. The gallery will be closed for renovations, which includes lighting upgrades and structural changes to the interior of the building, and will open in the early spring next year.

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