Eadweard Muybridge is among the seminal originators of the contemporary world’s visual form, with its concentrated image-sequences of bodies in movement and its ocular obsessions. This book examines an almost unknown dimension of Muybridge’s work, as a moving-image projectionist, who toured Europe’s cities to enthral beyond-capacity audiences with unprecedented projections and who built a moving-image auditorium - long before cinemas were created - in which to project his work at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. That final invention of Muybridge’s was both an all-engulfing catastrophe and the vital precursor for the following century’s worldwide manias for projection. Based on entirely new research into Muybridge’s travels, audiences, auditoria and projectors, this book explores his initiating role in moving-image projection and also maps Muybridge’s driving inspiration for subsequent artists and filmmakers preoccupied with the volatile entity of projection, from 1890s Berlin to contemporary Japan, via further spectacular World’s Exposition events and cinemas’ overheated projection-boxes.
The book looks closely at the enigmatic figure of the moving-image projectionist, from its origins in Muybridge’s experiments, across glass, celluloid and digital projections, to the contemporary moment. Moving-image projection formed a crucial determinant in the imagining of new corporealities and new urban spaces, through its irrepressible capacity to envision future bodies and cities. The cinema projectionist - a solitary figure of compulsion and restlessness, inhabiting a profession touched with the multiple addictions and deaths of the moving image - was once a pivotal presence for global cinema audiences but is now consigned to near-obsolescence.
The book investigates contemporary urban projections as aberrant manifestations derived from Muybridge’s first conjurations of projection’s power for its spectators. Throughout, the book interrogates the strange figure of the projectionist, embodied first of all by Muybridge himself.
The Projectionists will attract and fascinate all lovers of cinemas, photography and moving-image cultures.