Muybridge online archive


“Welcome to the Eadweard Muybridge Online Archive. Here you will find images from Eadweard Muybridge’s seminal work “Animal Locomotion,” photographed from the original 1887 publication … These extremely high resolution images are presented copyright free and ready for download.”

The Eadweard Muybridge Online Archive is presenting all the images in Animal Locomotion and it’s something to see. Somehow this work never goes out of date, even after 127 years.

Muybridge’s photographs of human and animal movement in Animal Locomotion came like an earthquake in the late 19th century. It effected not only the photographic world, but all the visual arts. For example, painters could see what movement really looks like, frozen. The Impressionist Degas for one incorporated the horse studies into his pictures of horse racing.

As Eadweard Muybridge took his work on the road, presenting magic lantern shows to art and science academies and to the general public, he planted the seed of what was to become cinema. He had already invented the Zoöpraxiscope, a projector for showing a moving picture version of his still photographs. This was the first movie projector, long before the Lumiére Brothers first projected strips of movie film in public, in 1896.

In 1887 he met Thomas Edison and they discussed the possibility of using the Zoöpraxiscope with Edison’s new phonograph invention. The idea was to project moving pictures with synchronised sound, amazing when you consider it wasn’t until 1927 and The Jazz Singer before movies with sound arrived in cinemas. So much had to happen before then.

In 1891 Edison built a Kinetescope, a machine for running a long strip of movie film past a peep-hole viewer. It caught on in penny arcades, then led on to the Niclelodeons the cheap (nickel) storefront movie houses that established cinema as we now know it.

Muybridge didn’t invent all this, but he did help to set it in motion.


Muybridge and Stanford

Title Page V1-XL

This beautiful typesetting is the title page of Eadweard Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion from 1887. Record of a vast ongoing labour, it documents the movement of humans and animals in sequences of still photographs that led on to the invention of cinema.

Muybridge was a prominent photographer in San Francisco in the 1870s when the rail tycoon Leland Stanford approached him to solve a puzzle: do the four legs of a trotting horse leave the ground all at once? Stanford was a horse breeder with a scientific outlook. After spending $40,000 on the quest, Muybridge proved they do. The advanced photographic system he created was then used expand the research into the movement of other animals and humans, what became Animal Locomotion.

Stanford was a robber baron, but a philanthropist too. He and his wife Jane created Stanford University, now one of the highest ranked universities in the world. It was not named after himself but after his son, Leland Stanford junior who had died at age 15, thus a great research university is named after a teenage boy. It’s campus is at Palo Alto, near San Francisco, at the site where Muybridge’s experiments took place.

Not only did Stanford’s Palo Alto help create cinema, it also helped create the personal computer. Xerox research there in the 1960s devised the mouse, windows and the graphical user interface that Apple and others grabbed and made popular.

It also helped in the creation of the internet. In the 1960s, Stanford University was one of the four institutes involved in exchanging data electronically and it actually received the first ever message on the internet. This was intended to be the word login, but since the system crashed, only the letters lo arrived. Lo and Behold.

Stanford University at Palo Alto was the seed for what became Silicon Valley. Later, Stanford graduates created Google, Yahoo! Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems. What would Muybridge have made of all this?

And what does Palo Alto mean? It couldn’t be more appropriate. Palo Alto means tall tree.


81-Vol 2-Plate 314-XL


The All-Over Effect

Lars Tunbjörk

Lars Tunbjörk, 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, published May 18, 1997

Lars Tunbjörk is a Swedish photojournalist whose striking photograph has been published in Aperture’s book The New York Times Magazine Photographs.

I admire this photograph for how it achieves the all-over effect, a composition where all parts are equal and are equally dispersed in the frame. Notice how each element is of similar importance and how each element balances each other element.

This is harder to achieve than you might think, and it rarely offers itself to your camera out in the street. Lee Friedlander has been pursuing it throughout his career – you can see a whole book of them in Sticks and Stones.

Because photography captures images of the real world, photographs tend to rely on recognition of the subject matter. The all-over effect resists that by emphasizing composition over representation.

To test the all-over effect, the composition should still work mirror-reversed and upside-down…it does.

Lars Tunbjörk

Lars Tunbjörk

Lars Tunbjörk


Turning your back on history


These boys staring at a camera in 1863 don’t seem aware that history is taking place right behind them. They should turn around and pay attention.

The photograph was taken on November 19, 1863 at the dedication of the monument at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What these boys turned their back on was Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address, the single most important speech in US history:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…


One of the blurry heads at the top of that distant rise near the centre is President Lincoln, but it’s impossible to say which head. Could it be the man in the stovepipe hat that I’ve circled? Lincoln did wear such hats and he was a tall man.


The photograph was taking by the great Alexander Gardner, then working for Matthew Brady. Gardner covered events in the Civil War before becoming a landscape photographer documenting, among other things, the Yosemite Valley, long before Ansel Adams made it his calling card.

The badly damaged image is from a wet plate negative, emulsion on glass, hence the flaking bits. It’s curious how we have a photographic record of this mythical event, yet at the same time records how ordinary it all was. Photography is a time machine.

You can see it here at


Into the Hollow Mountain


Robert Ashton, Haircuts, 1974

The Colour Factory Gallery is showing a remarkable project by Robert Ashton, Into The Hollow Mountains: A portrait of Fitzroy in 1974.

This is a substantial photojournalist project on Melbourne in the 1970s, a time capsule now that Fitzroy has transformed from a hard graft working class suburb to a poncy version of Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg district.

I didn’t really understand at the time that the Fitzroy I had moved into was already deep inside a cultural and historical shift, a moment of transition that had been slowly building for some years … even by 1973, Fitzroy had begun to change. During the late 1960s, a rich multilingual community of hardship and glory had been knocked over to make way for the housing commission flats abutting Gertrude Street.

Click on the image to see some details of Melbourne life in 1974: 60¢ haircuts, Holdens and Falcons and empty streets!


Facades at Edmund Pearce


Tom Evangelidis, Saviour of Spilled Blood, 2008

Edmund Pearce gallery has a strong exhibition of architectural photography, Facades, by Sydney photographer Tom Evangelidis. The main gallery has nine large framed photographs of building facades from around the world. There is also a handsome book for sale. The large framed images have a scale and weight that echoes the architecture itself.

As a photographer, Evangelidis is fascinated by the evolution of architecture and its intricate links with politics, culture and class. He approaches major public installations with the same respect as humble, ramshackle homes because he understands they are equally important in documenting the progression – and decline – of history.

This body of work was shot using traditional methods. Evangelidis uses a custom made wooden large format camera and only one single sheet of film per location.



Carbon Black Snapshot


My next exhibition is called Snapshot: Contemporary Photography, a group show at Carbon Black gallery in Prahran. The gallery is at 239 High St, just near Chapel St. It opens this Thursday, September 25, and runs until 5 October.

Carbon Black gallery is run by Tim Bruce who is also co-director of Edmund Pearce gallery, where my recent solo exhibition, Burn, was held. Snapshot includes the work of some prominent photographers including Jacqueline Felstead, Chris Budgeon and Michael Corridore who have also shown at Edmund Pearce.



Sean’s Gooog


This is the catalogue essay Sean Payne wrote for my current exhibition Gooog, which is showing at Tacit Contemporary Art. Design by Daniel Neville.


The word-fragment ‘Gooog’ stamps Greg Neville’s works derived from the virtual globe as emblems of their time. It appears in several of his pictures, a found palindrome, the number of vowels determined by the size of the segment he clips, duplicates and mirrors from the world-sized image in which it originally appeared.

 He is one of many contemporary artists whose primary material is Google Earth, an internet-based snapshot of geological, sociological, and architectural time; a matrix of images stitched to make a virtual world.

 He treats the images as found objects, stitching them together, upending the usual orientations around a central point. The repetition of the technique is another step in Neville’s long-held interest in found images and in automatic processes of generating imagery, whose outcome is only partly directed or predictable.

 The matrix irresistibly evokes Persian carpets, and like a magic carpet, we use it to fly above the world through a virtual sky. Looking down, human concerns blur into abstraction, another detail in the landscape.

 Roads carry associations in our culture with the promise of the future, the sense that things might be better somewhere else. But Neville’s roads lead nowhere, in endless loops, ironically denying the possibility of progress. In conversation, he links this with information decay, of things running down, energy distributed toward a state of equilibrium, entropy. When applied to human endeavours, as it is here, the image is terrifying.

 From the ground, towers thrust, but reversing the viewpoint strips them of their value as propaganda. The view from above diminishes all it surveys. The satellite is an eye without discrimination, pitiless. Even the turgid aspirations of billionaires to claim possession of the sky, like frontier real estate, are reduced to Babel-like hubris; they are futile, flaccid. ‘In Praise of Folly’ might be this exhibition’s subtitle. In this, Neville’s work reveals kinship with Andreas Gursky, an artist similarly inclined to view human concerns from a distance, subject to forces beyond our control.

 The digital artefacts heightened by the artist emphasise a reading of the world as image, an incomplete one. The best maps, even global positioning systems, describe the landscape imperfectly, as words describe the phenomenal world, with uncertainty. The image breaks when looked at closely enough. The disruptions technically indicate a failure of resolution. In a digital image, this has associations of clarity or sharpness, and when applied to human intentionality, it has the positive echo of resolve. But the double meaning is sourly ironic here. There might be resolve, but the insufficient resolution of the image shows the cracks where reality is imperfectly rendered.

 In the light of recent revelations of domestic surveillance programs of unimaginable size and breadth, the notion that we are all being recorded from the sky feels more sinister than it once did. Lethal use of drones is now frequently reported, and the corporations that make them advertise their photographic and media potential. Certainly, there is a malevolent background frequency to Neville’s often-beautiful images that we can detect when listening hard enough. There is less distinction now between the lens and the gun than ever.

 Sean Payne, Deakin University


My Gooog


Greg Neville, Gooog installation, Tacit Contemporary Art, 2014

My exhibition Gooog opened at Tacit last Wednesday. This is my biggest solo exhibition for many years, based on images from Google Earth. It has something to say about photography in the new digital online environment. Google Earth/Google Street View is the largest photographic project in history and it merits attention from photographers and artists.

Tacit Contemporary Art is at 312 Johnston St Abbotsford, and is open Wednesday-Friday 11-6, Saturday-Sunday 11-5.





Here is the invitation to my new exhibition Gooog opening on Wednesday at Tacit gallery, 312 Johnston St Abbotsford.

The work is derived from Google Earth images of highways and cities. This is the statement I sent the gallery:

Google Earth is a vast mapping and surveillance project. When combined with Google Street View, it is the most ambitious photography project in history.

This exhibition is part of my ongoing exploration of the limits of photographic representation. What interests me is not how Google Earth renders the planet’s surface accurately but how it abstracts it.

Through a simple mirroring process, the endless twisting and looping highways that criss-cross the planet become beautiful decorative designs, like tapestries or Persian carpets.

In a related project, Google’s overhead viewpoint renders some of the world’s tallest buildings as toylike, their immense structures consumed in a pattern of crystalline pixels.


A Kristian at work


Kristian Schullar, Strand II, 2010

Kristian Schuller is a fashion photographer working in Paris for prominent clients. His work is stagey and flamboyant, very feminine, and full of thin rangey models and extravagant costumes. He talks about the influence of Fellini on his work and you can see it in this beautiful image, inspired the last scene in 81/2.

I love fashion photography for the creativity and mad dedication of the people involved, not just the photographers. And every now and then they produce something really eye-popping – such as Schuller’s image Strand II.

See more work on his website which is itself a major production. In this video, he talks about the making of his book 90 Days, One Dream.


A Wolf at work


Michael Wolf is the German photographer whose book on high rise cities, Architecture of Density, gained a lot of attention not long ago. His more recent project has him shooting from the comfort of an office chair – he has been trawling Google Street View with his camera. With an office as nice as this, I don’t blame him.

Amsterdam’s Foam gallery presents this video on him, explaining his new work:



A Butler at work


Tom Butler is a British artist who works with 19th century cabinet portraits, transforming them into funny, surreal or creepy images by painting on them.

Fascinated by the human desire both to hide and to perform, Tom Butler collects memories, thresholds and hiding places and attempts to re-manufacture them in a visual way. His work expresses his natural inclination towards introversion and the opposition of displaying artwork essentially about hiding.

This video on the Photographers Gallery website explains the process:



A philosophical apparatus


I’ve never thought of a camera as a ‘philosophical apparatus’, but the word philosophy means ‘love of wisdom’ so maybe that applies to some photographers.

This advertisement comes from the 1867 book A Dictionary of Photography. It has some intriguing information about photography only 28 years after the medium was discovered.

The company is Horn & Thornthwaite, a name that might have been made up by comedian Peter Cook. They were a leading supplier in London, Opticians to the Queen, and deeply involved in photographic matters. Thornthwaite helped pay the legal expenses of Martin Laroche whom Fox Talbot had sued for his use of the new Collodion process. Talbot claimed that it infringed his Calotype patent of 1839 but he lost the case.

Note that lenses were not described by their focal length, as today, but for plate size. Quarto, half-quarto and Carte, for the Carte-de-Visite format which was all the rage.

One lens costs £6.6s, a large sum for most people. It was four months wages of a servant, for example, which shows photography was a plaything of the wealthy in those days.

A ‘Quire’ is four sheets of paper folded to make 24 sheets. It doesn’t say what size but at that rate, a single sheet of albumen printing paper would be about three pence. That’s about the price of a bottle of beer in 1867 (according to this remarkable website).  If the size is about 10×8 inches, it suggests the price of darkroom paper today is cheaper by half.


Detective Special


Greg Neville, installation shot from Detective Special, 2014

Sydney artist Prudence Murphy has a very chic exhibition at Fort Delta gallery, photographs of small objects against white, in a very white gallery.

The objects are parts of disassembled guns, sequenced on the gallery walls to suggest the complete weapons. They have a certain gravitas, dangerous things rendered harmless, until you find out they are toys owned by her young sons. The focus of your thoughts might then shift from the dangers of weaponry to male childhood rituals.

Fort Delta is a new gallery in Melbourne’s CBD, hidden away in the basement of the Capitol Arcade, a nice surprise when you eventually find it.