The Mental Museum

The Photographic Gun

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Born in 1830, Étienne-Jules Marey was a French scientist and chronophotographer. Chronophotography is the precursor to cinematography, a Victorian application of science and art; essentially the study of movement through still image. There are two processes of chronophotography, one being monography which is the continuous exposure to a subject and the other being strobophotography which is intermittent exposures to a subject. Probably the most renown chronophotographer is Eadweard Muybridge, an Englishman also born in 1830. Muybridge is best known for his sequential images of galloping horses and moving nude figures. However, it was Étienne-Jules Marey that was first to state that a galloping horse, for a brief moment, had all four hooves off the ground. It was Muybridge who carried out the photographic investigation and proved Marey right.


Étienne-Jules Marey was fascinated with flight and with animals and insects that could fly. In 1882, Marey created his photographic gun. It was an instrument capable of taking 12 consecutive frames per second at the pull of the trigger. Poetically it was beautiful because rather than terminating the object at which it points, Marey’s photographic gun would instead capture it forever.



Written by thementalmuseum

February 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm

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