From early large-scale photographs of the Yosemite Valley to groundbreaking motion studies of a horse running, it's no mystery what made photographer Eadweard Muybridge famous, but many aspects of his complicated life aren't as well known. Director Marc Shaffer delves into the person behind the lens in "Exposing Muybridge," a full-length documentary about the photographer.
The Stanford Historical Society hosts back-to-back screenings of the film, each followed by a panel discussion led by Shaffer, on March 16, at 4 and 7 p.m. at The Guild Theatre in Menlo Park.
Well before Silicon Valley existed, Muybridge may have been one of the area's first technological disruptors, as many of his motion studies (considered a precursor to film), took place in Palo Alto, financed by his patron, Leland Stanford — who also owned Muybridge's equine subjects. But like many disruptors, his innovative work met with a personal disruption, at least for a time. In Muybridge's case, it was a murder trial, in which he was accused of killing his wife's lover.
"Exposing Muybridge" draws on interviews with scholars, photographers and collectors, including Stanford historian emeritus Richard White, as well as actor Gary Oldman, who is a Muybridge collector, and features numerous photographs from collections at the Cantor Arts Center and Stanford Libraries.
The first panel discussion, following the 4 p.m. screening, features Corey Keller, a former photography curator at SFMOMA who served as an advisor to the film, and Scott Delp, Stanford professor of bioengineering and the 2021 recipient of the Muybridge Award, while the discussion following the 7 p.m. screening also features Keller along with Ryan Coffee, senior staff scientist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.
"Exposing Muybridge" screens March 16 at 4 and 7 p.m. at the Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino Real, Menlo Park. For more information, visit historicalsociety.stanford.edu, where the link for the public to buy tickets will go live Friday, March 10.
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