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612.76: Giddy Up!

January 12, 2013
Plate 578, "'Dusel' walking, bareback." from "Muybridge's Complete Human and Animal Locomotion"

Plate 578, “‘Dusel’ walking, bareback.” from “Muybridge’s Complete Human and Animal Locomotion”

Stop by the Science and Technology Department of the newly renovated Central Library, and you’ll notice our beautiful new wall graphics.  The images were hand-picked by library staff, and represent the wide-ranging subject areas in the 500-600 section of the Dewey Decimal System.

Of these graphics, one of my favorites is a 3′X5′ picture of Dusel–a horse immortalized by English photographer, Eadweard Muybridge.  The image resembles a film strip, and captures stills of Dusel and his rider trotting along in a strange, stark white room, which is actually the photographer’s highly controlled and scientific studio.  Although the work is primarily intended as a scientific document, it also creates a wonderfully weird tension between art and nature, which is typical of Muybridge’s photography.

Muybride made it his life work to record movement, specifically the movements of humans and animals.  In doing so, he made significant technical and artistic contributions to the fields of science, photography, and film.  His most seminal work, Animal Locomotion, was published in 1887, and contains thousands upon thousands of still images of creatures great and small.  It is a testament to his obsession with capturing motion.

The St. Louis Public Library is fortunate to own a selection of plates form the original 11-volume, 1887 edition–and it is truly remarkable to see them first hand.  To see the complete set, ask for our copy of the 1979 edition, published by Dover.  If you just want to visit Dusel, who I am hereby unofficially declaring as the Science and Technology mascot, you can gallop, sunter, amble, trot, or just walk :) on down to the library.

Plate 658. "'Ruth' kicking"

Plate 658. “‘Ruth’ kicking”

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