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Exposing Muybridge

Exposing Muybridge

Directed by Marc Shaffer

March 23rd, 2024 3:00 pm


Free Admission! Q&A with the filmmaker will follow the screening. 

Before the screening, join us at 2pm for a tour of the exhibition Movement Exercises (After Muybridge) with Ashley McNelis, CMP curatorial fellow.

Few figures have played so seminal a role in our moving picture storytelling culture as the revolutionary 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. At the behest of his patron, the railroad baron Leland Stanford, Muybridge produced unprecedented images of running horses, instantly transforming the camera into a machine of unmatched powers of perception and persuasion and setting the course for the development of cinema.

Before his motion photography breakthrough, Muybridge produced one of the most celebrated early landscape catalogues of the American West. He made the first photographs of winemaking in Northern California, produced the first photographs of native Tlingit people and of Southeast Alaska, was the fourth to photograph Yosemite, the first to be hired by the U.S. government to photograph an Indian War (The Modoc War in Northern California), and his photographs of Central America are widely considered the most important early images of the region.

Mischievous, resilient, deceitful, proud — Muybridge was a complicated man, and his personal story is as melodramatic as his professional one is distinguished, imbued with ambition and success, loss and betrayal, even the cold-blooded killing of a romantic rival.

“The machine cannot lie,” Leland Stanford declared of Muybridge’s horse-in-motion images. But what about the photographer?

Exposing Muybridge reveals long-buried secrets hiding in Muybridge’s photographs that force us to ask, can we truly believe what we see in a photograph?

Far from a relic of the past, then, Muybridge marks a beginning of “now,” his work catalyzing much of our modern culture, inspiring cutting-edge artists, scientists, and innovators, people who continue to reshape how we interpret and experience our world.

This free screening is made possible with the generous support of California Humanities.


Film Details

Director: Marc Shaffer
Studio: Inside Out Media
Running Time: 88 minutes
Country: USA
Release Year: 2021
Rated: Unrated


“FASCINATING… Director Marc Shaffer unfolds a (rich) story with this cinematic biography.” – Leslie Felperin, The Guardian