Edward Muybridge was a pioneer in photography and cinema. Born in 1830 in England, he is famous for conducting experiments in chronophotography, a technique to capture motion in a series of photographs. In 1872, Muybridge was commissioned to determine if horses during a race ever had all four legs off the ground simultaneously. Using a series of synchronized cameras, he demonstrated that horses indeed lift all four legs while running. This work revolutionized the understanding of motion and led him to apply his techniques in other areas, such as studying human and animal movements. Muybridge is considered one of the precursors of cinema, as his research laid the foundation for the development of motion recording and playback. He passed away in 1904, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of photography and cinema.

In Muybridge’s work, photography in its passage to cinema overcame a philosophical obstacle. The modern motion picture camera bisects human time into equal moments of light and darkness, their duration regulated by the constant rotation of the shutter. Between each frame, when the shutter closes over the lens as the strip of the film is repositioned, there is a moment of darkness, a fragment of time which is not recorded. Time, like any continuous quantity, is infinitely divisible. It cannot be reconstituted in its unity by a mechanical instrument which bisects it finitely. So we might question the possibility of cinema asking, “How can we recapture motion in a finite number of still picture?” Just as Zenone asked “How can we cross space in a finite number of movements since it is infinitely divisible?”. The solution of this paradox lives in the persistence of vision, metaphorically described in the 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci. “Everybody that moves rapidly seems to color its path with the impression of its hue. Thus when lighting moves among dark clouds, the speed of its sinuous flight makes its whole course resemble a luminous snake. This is because the organ of perception acts more rapidly than the judgment.”

Through the persistence of vision human perception is able to bridge the darkness which always alternates coequally with the light on every motion picture screen.