Notes on Buster Keaton’s Motion

  • Michael T. Smith


NOTES ON BUSTER KEATON'S MOTION The origin of cinema was in motion. In 1879, Eadweard Muybridge completed his "zoopraxiscope," named from "zoo" (a combining form meaning 'living being' or 'animal'),"praxis" (the Greek práxis, meaning 'action'), and "scope" (from the Greek skopion, meaning 'to look at carefully'). Muybridge built his contraption at the behest of railroad baron Leland Stanford (founder of Stanford University), who took an active interest in the then-emerging scientific field of Motion Studies. In essence, Stanford challenged Muybridge with a bet as to whether or not he could answer the mystery of whether a horse removes all four legs off the ground at some point while galloping. Using a battery of twelve cameras, Muybridge captured a running horse and projected said images from a rotating glass disk in rapid succession to give the impression of motion: he found a horse does, in fact, lift all four feet...