The Lecture for the Hall of Inventions
as given in Santa Cruz, 2001 October 26
We have here several curious devices which demonstrate principles of time, motion, and perception. Before I demonstrate them to you, however, I should like to give a few words of background, that you may more rightly apprehend their significance.
Edward Muggeridge was a very talented photographer. Landscapes mostly. You may have seen some of his more unusual works in the Hall of Photography in the other tent. Muggeridge was quite dedicated to his work. Perhaps a bit too dedicated. His devotion to his photography left his wife sufficient liesure time to make the acquaintance of one Major Harry Larkyns.
When Muggeridge learned of this daliance, he appeared on Larkyns doorstep, and asked if he might speak to him, outside. "Here," said Muggeridge, "is my reply to the letter you sent my wife." And shot him.
He was later acquitted, on the grounds of insanity... and the judgement may indeed have some veracity. From that point on, Muggeridge was obsessed with discovering that distinction between life and death. He changed his name to Edweard Muybridge.
"Time," Muybridge reasoned, "is motion, and motion is time. Time is the fourth dimension, and the fourth dimension is the realm of the spiritual. The perception of motion when there is no motion is precisely the desire of the mind to understand the realm of the spiritual."
To this end, Muybridge undertook to produce a series of what he called "motion studies," in which he shot a sequence of photographs spaced in time of some animate phenomenon. Here, in this device, called a zoetrope, we can see two of his first attempts.
(Demonstrates Zoetrope.) Gather round, and peer in through these slots on the side.
Muybridge began to travel the world, searching for more subjects for his motion studies. In South America, outside of Rio Janiero, he found something unexpected.
He had traveled there to photograph the exotic insects, but what he found turned out to be far more significant. The tribe that lived in the village outside of Rio Janiero colored their faces with an unusual glowing facepaint. (Shows models of the glowing faces.) The facepaint derived from a metal, that the tribe also used a fishing bait. The bait attracted fish of especially large size. We have a sample of this metal.
First, here is a ball of ordinary lead. Please, please, pass it around. (Puts on glove.) And here is a ball of that strange metal. Note that it is heavier than lead, and glows slightly. Also, it remains warm to the touch at all times. Interesting, isn't it.
Through a chance acquaintance with Thomas Edison, they collaborated on a device which utilized this "heavy lead" as they called it. You may have seen the "camera obscura" in one of the other tents. The device which they constructed operates in very nearly the precise opposite manner. While the camera obscure adsorbs an exterior scene, and, through a projection apparatus, renders it smaller, their device takes a minuscule particle of heavy lead and renders it large enough that we may see fascinating details on its surface.
He felt that he finally penetrated that thin tissue that divides life and death. This is the device, the Camera Macula.
(Pulls black cover off front of Camera, allows the mysterious images play across the screen for a short interval, and then throws the cover back down.)