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The Horse In Motion/79

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Published on May 7, 2010

The Horse In Motion/79 revisits the series of twelve sequential photographs shot by Eadweard Muybridge. It uses what was relatively new technology in 1979 to update the rhythms of the original Muybridge composition.

Two frames of each of the twelve images were shot with a 16mm camera and played back at the standard 24 frames per second, so that each sequence lasts precisely one second. The image sequence almost immediately changes in a playful way, but always maintaining the rhythm.

A Xerox photocopier was used to degenerate the individual images 150 times. In other words, each image was photocopied, then the resulting image was photocopied, and the next was photocopied, and on like that 150 generations.

These were then filmed in the same way as the originals, with intriguing results. On a series of twelve Saturdays in late winter and early spring, 1979, the photocopies were affected by the temperature and humidity in the Chicago advertising agency where they were made, which produced different effects as the photocopier behaved differently in different weather. On some days, the image would skew to the left. On others, it stretched more vertically. Twelve different patterns within the sequence produce a modified rhythm that is detectable to a point. The degenerations of each image are shown one after the other to illustrate the pattern in a different manner. And the series of images is run until it vanishes into chaos. After that, it is brought back from visual static to reform the original images and pattern.

William James, the 19th Century philosopher, speculated on the response of humans to sonic rhythms corresponding to half-second intervals and their interplay with heartbeats. This film creates that rhythm visually. It is silent, and intends to provoke a silent rhythm in the viewer's head, like a subsonic sound system.

As the series of images progresses, degenerates, and regenerates, a decorum develops. Variations on the pattern are introduced to break the decorum, then the film eases the viewer back into chaos in a manner that is actually somewhat soothing after the intrusion, followed by the title and credits that are embedded in the rhythm. Unfortunately, viewing the film online can destroy the rhythms, which are essential to appreciating it. I recommend downloading it, then viewing it on a computer with a decent video card.

I'm a native of Nebraska, and I made this film while a student of the graduate Filmmaking program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I moved to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area later in 1979, where I have lived since then, and now work as a writer and independent television and web producer.

I have always been fond of doing "neat new stuff." I set up my first online business in 1983, created the world's first humor blog in 1984 (ZIP Beep, look it up on Wikipedia), and am currently working on a public television series about Minnesota museums in broadcast partnership with Twin Cities Public Television's Minnesota Channel. For more, please visit www.strinz.com.

Thanks to Keroff & Rosenberg, Inc., for allowing me to overtax their office photocopier.

You can reach me most easily at cstrinz@gmail.com, or call 651-865-0075.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Charles Strinz

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