Research Point – Sequence: Muybridge, Michals, Arnatt, Hilliard and Ruscha

21st November 2019

Images in sequence

What defines a sequence, as opposed to a series, is the connectivity of the images in time or concept…

… Can you identify how each of these artists is using sequence differently? look for inspiration.

OCA Foundations in Photography Course Folder pg 102

I am looking forward to researching this exercise and looking at different ways that various photographers have used sequence within their images.

I have found that people often interchange the terms sequence and series photography. However these are two distinct types of photography. Sequence photography captures a subject while it is moving in such a way that to the viewer it conveys motion in a fixed image. Series photography however is a set of images on the same theme which are also edited in the same style.

Below in the grid is an example of each of the photographers that I am researching for this exercise. Top left: Eadweard Muybridge, Top right: John Hilliard and Ed Rushca, Bottom left: Keith Arnett, Bottom right: Duane Michals.

Eadweard Muybridge

Father of Motion Pictures


Photograph bottom left, Eadward Muybridge’s Camera Shed “(Original Caption) 5/20/1929- Stanford Muybridge Memorial Exhibit- Photo shows long shed which contained 24 cameras taking first motion picture by Eadward J. Muybridge in 1878 of trotting horse and sulky.” Getty Images

Photograph bottom right, “Muybridge customised electro-shutters, c1880. UNITED KINGDOM – DECEMBER 02: The front of the electro-shutters used by Muybridge in his experiments. Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was the first photographer to carry out the analysis of movement by sequence photography, an important stage in the invention of cinematography. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

Bottom Photograph, shows Muybridge’s early work where the cameras ran alongside the horse. The cameras were situated as the photograph on the left shows us, in one long line.

Study of Horse, Muybridge. Getty Images
Muybridge race horse animated.gif

By Eadweard Muybridge – The sequence is set to motion using these frames, originally taken from Eadweard Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion series, (plate 626, thoroughbred bay mare “Annie G.” galloping) published 1887 by the University of Pennsylvania, Public Domain, Link

In the photograph below, Muybridge placed cameras at the side and in the front of the subject so that two viewpoints were photographed.

Head Spring
circa 1884: ‘Head-Spring,’ a side view and front view stop-action series of photographs of a man performing a headspring, Muybridge. George Eastman Museum/Getty Images

The photograph below, shows us how Muybridge began to shoot his subjects from the side, front and back perspectives.

Woman jumping over barrier, 1887.

Muybridge’s work is very similar to the stop motion technique so his work is an early form of animation. His sequence images work on taking six to twelve individual images of a moving subject in quick succession one after another, therefore showing the movement of a subject within a small time frame.

21st Novemeber 2019

Duane Michals

Duane Michals is an American photographer who creates narratives within a series of images and is not only known for this work but his photographic multiple exposures and text that accompany his images which give his work another dimension.

Michals began his photographic career when visiting Russia when he borrowed a camera from a friend and began to shoot portraits. Following on from this start he has shot in various genres from portraits, street photography connected with deserted sites within New York and onto the more structured photographic works which were narrative based multi frame compositions. He has written, painted and drawn on photographs as well as manipulated them, he does not settle on one specific style but continuously pushes his artistic boundaries.

Duane Michals, Chance Meeting, 1970 

Michal’s narrative sequences, for which he is widely known take on cinema’s frame-by-frame format and rely on the sequencing of multiple images to tell a story. In the above work, ‘Chance Meeting,’ the background stays static but the characters within the narrative change position within the frame. It is us, the viewer who has to decipher the story within the sequence. However we do know the title and the philosophical ideas that he works within – death, gender, sexuality etc… so we are pointed to a specific direction for us to unravel the hidden content. The viewer will need to pair these clues with those within the images, for example, the gender of the characters, their age, clothes that they are wearing, body language, poses and the environment they are within.

Due to the viewers individuality, we are still able to come up with slightly different outcomes largely due to the fact our life experiences are different from each other and these influences will direct us differently.

25th November 2019

Keith Arnatt Self Burial (1969)

Arnatt is a conceptual British artist and photographer who has influenced the likes of Martin Parr.

Arnatt was fascinated with works of art that are created in the natural landscape but leave no trace of their presence behind. ‘The continual reference to the disappearance of the art object suggested to me the eventual disappearance of the artist himself’, he wrote. This sequence of photographs was broadcast on German television in October 1969. One photo was shown each day, for about two seconds, sometimes interrupting whatever programme was being shown at peak viewing time. They were neither announced nor explained – viewers had to make what sense of them they could.

Gallery label, April 2009

Self-burial, Keith Arnatt 1969

Below are the stills for the above TV video. However please note the video plays the sequence backwards from an empty picture image to the full man, I am not sure why but I thought it intriguing at least to see the images moving.

Self-Burial (Television Interference Project) 1969, Keith Arnatt

Television Interference Project: Self-Burial was shown on German television in October 1969. Each image appeared for two seconds on consecutive days which left viewers intrigued as to what was happening and many thought they were watching photographs of a suicide.

I find this concept quite cool, especially that the television station supported this artistic project. It also reminded me of The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells and the reported event of 1938 when it was broadcasted over the radio and people were hearing the story and believed that there was really a martian attack happening.

Self-Burial depicts Arnatt in a sequence of nine photographs, where he gradually sinks and then disappears into the ground. When seeing them in grid format I am reminded of the stop motion technique again. In this sequence of photographs the background is static and the only movement is Arnatt’s body which is slowly disappearing. The viewer does not have to decipher any hidden messages although they can question, ‘Why?’ is Arnatt performing this act.

Photograph: Courtesy Sprüth Magers/© Keith Arnatt Estate.

John Hilliard and Ed Rushca’s Every building on Sunset Strip 1966

Video taking the viewer page by page through the work, ‘ Every building on Sunset Strip.’
Hilliard and Rushca, Every Building on the Sunset Strip. Reed College Art Department

The above photograph from the Reed college Department Website (link above) shows how the 54 pages, 25 foot length book is folded in an accordion style.

Rushca photographed these images while driving up and then down both sides of the street in his pick-up truck with his camera mounted on the back of it. The images show photographic views of the mile and a half section of Sunset Street and they are collaged together and labelled with their building number.

Maquette for Every Building on the Sunset Strip, 1966, Ed Ruscha, gelatin silver prints and labels on board with annotations. The Getty Research Institute

Rushca’s work (Every building on the Sunset Strip) is a sequence that records a journey. It is very similar to how google can view roads and buildings and you can actually walk up and down them. Although this sequence shows us a journey in a specific place and during a specific time I am wondering if it comes under the heading of ‘documentary,’ because it is documenting that specific period which becomes history.

The documentary aspect would be the fact that he has recorded buildings, cars and signs etc… of a specific era, yet, it becomes conceptual because of the way that he has presented the images in a fold out book which the viewer can travel from left to right or right to left as though taking the journey themselves, or indeed stopping and observing details and moving around the strip as they wish.

I actually love the book ideas that we are learning about, I have used them for my fine art practices but I have never presented my photographs in such a way. Something I will definitely look into.

This link takes you to further research on sequences and looks in depth at Duane Michals images.

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