From photography to printing: the chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey

The chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey1

Linda Bertelli

Considering both the role of images in the experimental milieu and the role photography began to play from the mid-nineteenth century onward, this chapter concludes with an effort to define the value of the image as evidence. More specifically, through the example of Etienne-Jules Marey’s experiments, this chapter seeks to describe the process of constructing the image’s meaning as evidence of a scientific experiment in the transition from photographic plate to print, and therefore in the transition through different media that display different images related to one another.

In an attempt to shed light on this transition of media, the chapter aims to analyze both which specific technological elements were employed to construct the evidence and which elements of the image contributed to rendering this construction more clearly legible.


“The term ‘mechanical’”—Peter Galison and Lorraine Daston note—

must also be understood in context, a task made more difficult by the pervasive conflation of two conceptually and historically distinct processes via the single phrase “mechanical reproduction.” In one sense, the phrase refers to the automatic production of an image without the interventions of an artist. In another sense, it refers to the “automatic” multiplication of images (which could be lithographs or engravings as well as photographs) so that they could be accurately, widely, and inexpensively disseminated. Although photographs became prototypical of the first sense of mechanical, they did not fall under the second until the 1880s, when new techniques, such as the Woodburytype and halftone photolithography, made mass printings of photographs practicable.2

Through an analysis of the work of physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey and, more specifically, his fixed plate geometric chronophotography (see Section “Selecting the image”), this chapter addresses the less explored meaning of the expression “mechanical reproduction”, that is, the meaning linked to the automation of printing and specifically photographic prints. Beginning in the 1880s—the central years of Marey’s research—photographic printing evolved from engravings done by hand to photomechanical processes, as continuous images, such as photolithography,3 or halftone

Etienne-Jules Marey, Le Mouvement (Fig. 126), 1894 Similigravure. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 10361

Figure 7.1 Etienne-Jules Marey, Le Mouvement (Fig. 126), 1894 Similigravure. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 10361.

images, such as the similigravure developed by Charles Guillaume Petit4 and that Marey employed for the majority of his images5 (Figure 7.1, for instance). My methodological aim is to consider this history of the appearance of various new processes for directly printing photographs that gradually, and mainly for economic reasons, undermined previous inventions, together with that of the use of images in specific experimental scientific practices.

Considering both the role of images in the experimental milieu and the role photography began to play from the mid-nineteenth century onward,6 particularly through halftone techniques, this chapter concludes with an effort to define the value of the image as evidence. More specifically, through the example of Etienne-Jules Marey’s experiments, it seeks to describe the process of constructing the image’s meaning as evidence of a scientific experiment in the transition from photographic plate to print, and therefore in the transition through different media that display different images related to one another—a relationship that is expressed by preserving some aspects of the image and eliminating others.7

In an attempt to shed light on this relationship, I aim to analyze both which specific technological elements were employed to construct the evidence and which elements of the image contributed to rendering this construction more clearly legible. My analysis is based on the assumption that these factors cannot be understood if studied individually; rather, they should be regarded as effects of specific experimental procedures or protocols that were focused as much on defining the experimental space as they were on preparing the object to be analyzed.8

The experimental space in question was an oval track about 500 m long and set against a black backdrop that extended for part of the perimeter of the track. This backdrop consisted of a sort of open-sided shed about 3 m deep, 4 m tall, and 15 m wide.9 In the middle of the track there was a set of rails, and along these rails rolled a small cart mounted with a box that comprised the photographic studio, thus allowing Marey (or other experimenters) to shoot the images at the moment when the subject passed in front of the black background of the shed (Figure 7.2a). There was also a board located along the inside of the track painted with a pattern of black and white checkerboard squares. These squares can be seen in the photos themselves and were emphasized when the image was converted in graph (see Section “Selecting the image”): they served as a measuring stick, a ruler for making comparisons between the phenomenon and the image in order to visualize and measure space. Hence, the yardstick functioned as a tool for comparative monitoring and verification of the spatial dimension while a black clock face with white hands fulfilled the same function in relation to the temporal dimension. The track was set up within a larger environment, specifically, one that was called in its entirety the Physiological Station,10 a structure that had originated in the “new need” science had to “observe nature in its own domain”,11 and that was modeled on other spaces created to meet this need, such as the zoological station or acclimation garden (Figure 7.2b).12

(a) Physiological Station, black hangar, ca. 1882-1886. Collège de France, Archives [13 Fi 1]

Figure 7.2 (a) Physiological Station, black hangar, ca. 1882-1886. Collège de France, Archives [13 Fi 1].

(b) Physiological Station, ca. 1882-1886. College de France, Archives [13 Fi 6]

Figure 7.2 (b) Physiological Station, ca. 1882-1886. College de France, Archives [13 Fi 6].

Etienne-Jules Marey and the mechanical reproduction of the image

Marey recognized that new photoengraving techniques such as the similigravure significantly affected the functional role that images played in scientific research, and he accordingly identified automatism as a source of scientific evidence. Indeed, automatism was considered the main means of granting scientific validity to specific methodologies at the time, and was also seen to legitimize the use of the image as evidence; consequently, the image came to guarantee the scientific validity of experimental protocols.

And yet Marey’s discourse also contained two additional albeit implicit elements complementary to automatism that can be considered practices for constructing evidence through the use and theoretical understanding of these techniques of printing photography. The first element concerns the “simplification of the image”, that is, the move to eliminate excess visual information in order to make the image intelligible (see Section “Selecting the image”). The second element concerns the autonomy of the image and is associated with the problem of representing the invisible through photographic images (see Section “Illustration and photography”).

Marey’s discourse and photographic practices rest on a fundamental methodological assumption: the idea that the automatic device of photography is what makes it possible to access the unseen through an image. When the photographic image makes the invisible visible, the experimental operator as the subject who enacts vision is elided.13 Thanks to the operation of an automatic mechanism, the image produced

Chronophotograpby of Etienne-Jules Marey 93 through this process becomes a guarantee of its own scientific nature, that is, of the fact that it constitutes scientific evidence in and of itself.

The fact that this technique is automatic means it is free from interference by a producing actor or, in other words, an intermediary between the object and the observer.14 In his view, it was specifically this aspect that granted photography an anti-fictional or authentic character.

First and foremost, the idea of freeing the image from this kind of interference was based on the assumption that the subject producing the representation (the scientist during the experiment) was subject to error and therefore represented an element of risk in the effort to obtain scientific evidence. To achieve a scientifically reliable image, it was considered necessary to proceed by causing the scientist to eliminate himself, 15 and this process was carried out in line with the strict procedural protocols whose function I briefly mentioned at an earlier point in this chapter.

It is important to note that this removal was functional to the construction of the specific space and time of the experiment and, obviously, it constituted the general rule for training the subject who was to produce or replicate the experiment; it did not, however, in any way involve the removal of the actor tasked with devising the scientific hypothesis (indeed, that actor was affirmed and made visible precisely through the formulation of these protocols).

Establishing a method thus involved replacing the experiment maker with the eye of a device that, precisely by virtue of its status as a disinterested mechanism, served to guarantee the validity of the method itself.

According to this approach, the only faithful eye was the machine’s eye, and the scientist was first and foremost a trained enactor of the procedures that had been established and shared with the scientific community. By regulating his behavior in every detail, these procedures served to eliminate him as experimenting subject. The experimenting subject was not removed, however, in the belief that the automatic eye of the machine was a more powerful organ than the human eye and therefore capable of disabling the traps put in place by the illusions of the senses.

The removal concerned not the senses but the non-automatic character of the observer, in contrast to the automatic nature of the machine—that is, it concerned the exercise of the observer’s reason as a deliberate, conscious, and careful act.

Once the attention of the investigator was silenced it was precisely the machine’s ability to capture in an automatic way that made of it an instrument able to record and render visible objects which otherwise would be impossible to grasp.

As Marey wrote:

When the object in movement is inaccessible, like a star whose travels one wants to record; when its movements are executed in different directions at once or are of such extension that they cannot be directly inscribed on a piece of paper; then photography supplants the mechanical procedures with great facility; it reduces the amplitude of the movement or, conversely, amplifies it to a more convenient scale.

Photography was thus thought to produce its own object of analysis, and to do so to a higher degree than any other means of automatic recording.17

Selecting the image

In the printed text, photographs that had been worked using engraving techniques displayed images in which some of the outlines around the figures appeared underscored and accentuated. This effect made the object under analysis appear isolated from the context of the overall image, an operation which resulted in a slippage of meaning for the image itself.

If we concentrate on these slippages, according to Marey’s hypothesis this shift from photography to printing represented an epistemological shift from clue to evidence: the photographic image, a non-public tool that remains within the experimental environment (or, at any rate, the associated community), contains a necessary visual anticipation18 of the hypothesis (without which the hypothesis would be invalidated); it was only by passing to the printed text, however, that this hypothesis was able to appear in its final version, its established form.19

In fact, printing definitively revealed the hierarchy of elements that photography brought to the surface in an as yet undefined form; for Marey, the final printed image not only showed, it also explained and demonstrated (see Section “Illustration and photography”).20

In order to solve the problem of the interruption of movement inherent to the images produced by the previous photographic device (the photographic gun), Marey designed a camera that exposed one segment of photographic plate to the light at a time, with each section corresponding to a different phase of the movement. The shutter was a rotating metal disk with slots, one of which was wider than the others and served as a reference point. The shutter was positioned between the motionless plate and the lens, which was always open.

As Marta Braun clearly describes, drawing on Marey’s own text:

As the slot ... passed the lens, a phase of the movement was registered on the plate; as the subject moved to a new position, the plate was masked by the shutter; and as the slot passed the lens again, the subject’s new position would be registered on a fresh portion of the plate immediately next to the first, and so on. Each time the slot passed in front of the lens, a new phase of the subject’s movement was made next to the previous one; this result could be repeated indefinitely, depending on the speed of the disk shutter’s revolution.21

The chronophotographic method of multiple exposure was an endeavor to produce the greatest possible number of images on a single plate and so render visible the greatest number of stages in the movement being photographed. As Marta Braun also notes, although this opportunity to increase the number of images the camera was able to record seemed to constitute this method’s main strength and reason for being, in reality it constituted its primary flaw. In other words, the ability to reproduce anything standing in front of the camera actually produced an excess of representation that served to obscure the clear readability of the movement itself. That is to say, there is a limit beyond which the image loses its intelligibility.22

The printed image definitively achieved the generalization of the individual case that photography with its details displays and, therefore, made explicit the sense

Chronophotograpby of Etienne-Jules Marey 95 of the anticipation suggested by photography. In Marey’s case, that is, printing realized photography’s intentions: to accurately display the unique feature of each movement (to define what distinguishes marching from running, trotting from galloping) and, at the same time, to standardize each movement, its type and qualities.23 There is an entire terrain beyond the insistence on the machine’s automatism and what it was thought to be indiscriminately capable of recording. The fact that there was a protocol for carrying out the experiment already indicates this: indeed, Marey’s “passion for exactitude” was not an exhaustive visualization (and therefore went beyond the immediate); rather, it operated through a process of selection aimed at abstracting (the object of the experiment was movement, not the moving subjects).24 It is true that the black background (which also represented a merely technical element without which the image could not be made) isolated the body under investigation by placing it in a nowhere-space that was nothing but space as a geometric dimension25; Marey’s method therefore involved segregating the moving body (and sometimes individual body parts) from the larger context, and this act of abstracting the body through depersonalizing costumes was already part of the photographic device itself. Nonetheless, it was only through printing that the image as a pure graphic notation achieved its maximum degree of legibility and, therefore, reliability.

Marey carried this step to its most extreme and yet particularly revealing point in a specific type of chronophotographic image, partial or geometric chronophotography (1883). Marey resorted to this type in an effort to solve the problem of double exposure that occurs when the subject in the photograph performs a movement in front of the camera that is too slow, an effect that limits the image’s legibility and thus the intelligibility of the movement. However, rather than working to modify the shutter speed, Marey (and his assistant Georges Demeny) had the insight that they might influence the final outcome of the image by acting on the photographic subject: in the best-known experiment using partial photography, conducted to analyze human movement in a body standing still, walking, running, or jumping, the subject is wearing a kind of black suit that covers his entire body. Along the arms and legs of this suit were applied long, narrow strips of wood to which were attached small, shiny metal nails with round heads (bigger at the ankle, knee, and head of the femur, as movement pivot points) so as to schematically mark the subject’s bone structure.26 The result, which can be understood only by comparing the photographic images with the graphic images that are presented as being directly derived from them, aims to achieve a photographic image that resembles a graph (and is therefore hybrid in terms of both its origins and its constitution) (Figure 7.3). This allows the image to be translated into a real graph in its final version, a version that is meant to simultaneously display the meaning of the image and the true nature of the phenomenon being represented (Figure 7.4). Marey relies on the photographic medium and, in keeping with the discourse prevalent at the time, considers it as having a direct relationship with the object. At the same time, however, by employing this medium in an anti-mimetic sense he uses the printing process to transform the photo into a pure graphical notation. In so doing, he clearly intends to also achieve a second effect, that of demonstrating the natural values of the graph, including those ones which are not derived from the photographic image.

Etienne-Jules Marey, Deep Jump from a Chair, with Reception on the dynamographic Platform, 1884. Partial geometric chronophotography. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 743]

Figure 7.3 Etienne-Jules Marey, Deep Jump from a Chair, with Reception on the dynamographic Platform, 1884. Partial geometric chronophotography. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 743].

Etienne-Jules Marey, Falling Stiff on the Heels, ca. 1883-1904. Graph obtained by means of a partial geometric chronophotography. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 72]

Figure 7.4 Etienne-Jules Marey, Falling Stiff on the Heels, ca. 1883-1904. Graph obtained by means of a partial geometric chronophotography. Collège de France, Archives [3 PV 72].

Illustration and photography

The history of photographic prints should be understood as part of a process that had begun previously, namely, the growing importance of illustration in scientific publications, particularly popular ones. This importance can be seen, for instance, in the “Préface” to the first issue of La Nature (1873), signed by editor-in-chief Gaston Tissandier, which specifically identifies illustration as the element fundamental to the journal’s identity. A similar editorial perspective can also be found in the illustrated magazines launched a few years earlier (such as L’Illustration, 1843) and it affected the significance of the way Marey, who was one of La Nature’s closest collaborators from the outset,27 employed images. As a matter of fact, some of the images were published in identical form in the columns of these magazines as well as in more substantial, less popularly oriented publications and essays.

Historically speaking, there is no doubt that photography profoundly altered the traditional function of the printed image (suffice it to note how the literature addressing this role continually references the automatic nature of this process, along with the transparent and paradoxically immediate nature of the photographic medium).28 Marey’s images, specifically, display certain motifs in common with illustrations from before the advent of photography: the object still emerges from lines and the image, heir to the educational role played by scientific engravings, serves to prove the hypothesis. Within the field of tension created by the polarization of illustration and photography, therefore, it is essential to analyze the process through which images were granted credibility and taken up as evidence.

The radical shift that granted Marey’s images a hybrid value between demonstration and documentation had to do with the distance they established from the model, different than the type of distance characteristic of illustrations. By reducing each individual to a representative of the human figure, Marey subjected his models to a kind of deformation in keeping with a shift already taking place in physiology: while previously the body had been regarded as something that could only be understood and visualized by being dissected (according to the principle, as Marey wrote, that “the function of an organ was dependent on the shape or form”), with this shift the body came instead to be understood as the visible surface of invisible forces.29 In summing up his overall research trajectory, Marey stated that his goal had always been to identify

methods and apparatus capable of faithfully translating the outward signs of the functions of life. The pulsations of the heart or arteries, respiratory movements, and muscle contractions inscribe themselves by means of these tools and provide an analysis of the curves through which the minute details of movements are translated ... More recently, the snapshot has been able to render our knowledge of physiological movements complete, so much so that it is now possible to easily resolve most of the problems related to the mechanics of living beings.30

The graphically processed image was credited with being able to clearly visualize these forces, traces of which were already present in photographic images and, precisely by virtue of the transition from photography, that is, by virtue of the double au-tomaticity of the process, these processed images provided evidence of the existence of these forces. These images were presented as a visualization of the invisible, although in this case the invisible was not the hidden dimension of the perceptual visible, in need of unveiling, but rather the field of forces of which the visible is the mark and the effect. The meaning of the image therefore touches on issues beyond the idea of the transparency of photography as a medium and the resulting correspondence between the subject and the image.

Tasked with visualizing the invisible, Marey’s images had in common with drawings the fact that they did not claim to correspond to the model and, hence, constituted productive rather than reproductive images (they not only showed but also demonstrated). However, while in the case of illustrations this production of meaning was “the expression of the control man exercises over the course of events”,31 in the case of Marey’s images the exercise of control was attributed to the role played by the machine and its automatism.


  • 1 A differently elaborated version of the topics addressed in this chapter has been published in Linda Bertelli, “Fotografia scientifica e riproducibilità meccanica. La cronofotografia di Marey”, aut aut 378 (2018): 176-191.
  • 2 Peter Galison and Lorraine Daston, Objectivity (New York: Zone Books, 2007), 137.
  • 3 The two elements to consider in reconstructing the history of photographic printing are the progressive automation of techniques for obtaining printing plates (so as to minimize the role of the engraver) and the refinement of phototypographic reproduction processes (so as to facilitate the alternation of images and text). The first trajectory began earlier than the second and, in France, its main proponent was Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882). See Sylvie Aubenas, “Alphonse Poitevin (1810-1882)—La naissance des procédés de reproduction photomécanique et de la photographie inaltérable” (MA diss., Ecole nationale des chartes, Paris, 1987); Sylvie Aubenas and Michel Poivert, eds., D’Encre et de charbon—Le concours photographique du Duc de Luynes 1856-1867 (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale, 1994). It was not possible, however, to associate these matrixes with typefaces. It was only with the development of halftone printing processes that publishers were able to alternate images and text. For an exhaustive discussion of the relationship between photography and photographic printing at the end of the nineteenth century, see Geoffrey Belknap, From a Photograph: Authenticity, Science, and the Periodical Press, 1870-1890 (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).
  • 4 Charles-Guillaume Petit was the first to develop this technique in France, patenting it in 1878 (INPI n. 126024, 08/08/1878; see also Charles-Guillaume Petit, “Nouveau procédé photographique, dit similigravure”, Bulletin de la Société française de photographie 5, (May 7,1880): 136-140). There were a variety of models in use around 1880, however, each developed by a different inventor: the German Georg Meisenbach, the American Frederic Eugene Ives, and, in France, along with Charles-Guillaume Petit, Stanislas Krakow.
  • 5 See Etienne-Jules Marey, Le Mouvement (Paris: G. Masson, 1894), 125; and Etienne-Jules Marey, “Reproductions typographiques des photographies, procédé de M. Ch. Petit”, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de ¡’Académie des Sciences 95 (1882): 583-585. Petit’s process is particularly interesting in that, although it was a form of halftone, it built on the innovations of Alphonse Poitevin (1819-1882) and Firmin Gillot (1819-1872), who had achieved significant results in relief with bichromated gum. By using this cliché, it was possible to obtain a more highly contoured final image. Marey found that similigravure provided the appropriate style for representing his subjects. This line is the main feature of the transition of chronophotographs from photography to published prints.
  • 6 In France the first engraving modeled after a photographic image appeared in print in 1843, in the magazine L’Illustration. As it became easier and more common to use photomechanical techniques and their use was consolidated over the early years of the twentieth century, photography came to represent the main type of image to appear on the printed page. For a detailed analysis of this topic, see Thierry Gervais, “L’illustration photographique: Naissance du spectacle de l’information, 1843-1914” (PhD diss., EHESS, October 2007).
  • 7 The general theoretical framework of this chapter draws on Bruno Latour, “Circulating Reference: Sampling the Soil in the Amazon Forest”, Pandora’s Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 24-79.
  • 8 This was central to Marey’s research, as attested by the three chapters of Le Mouvement devoted to describing the protocols. The same topic, treated through similar arguments, can be found in all the major treatises of the time regarding the application of photography to the disciplines then establishing themselves as scientific.
  • 9 This height was necessary to photograph birds on the wing. On the contrary, when the walk of a man or an animal was being studied, a frame covered with black cloth and suspended from the upper part of the background limited the ingress of light into the shedlike cavity, making it darker. It is important to understand that Marey introduced these changes in his pursuit of absolute darkness. In this field, Marey continuously references research by Eugène Chevreul. See, for instance, Marey, Le Mouvement, 71 ff. See also Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992).
  • 10 Over the course of the 1870s and 1880s, Marey addressed several appeals to the French government asking for stable support for his research. In 1881 the Paris Municipal Council finally granted him a very spacious plot of land at the Parc des Princes as well as an annual allowance of 12,000 francs. Thanks to the intervention of Minister of Education Jules Ferry, a law passed in August 1882 allocated the money necessary for the construction of the first buildings, and Marey took all the tools and equipment he had built over more than 20 years of work, previously stored in his laboratory at the College of France, and moved them to the new location. The Physiological Station opened in March 1883.
  • 11 See Etienne-Jules Marey, “La station physiologique de Paris”, La Nature 11, no. 2 (1883): 226-23 0, 275-279; here, 227.
  • 12 According to Marey, in order to meet this need it was also necessary to close a harmful gap in the discipline, namely, the gap between naturalists—that is, scholars focused more specifically on the study of the anatomy of living beings—and physiologists—that is, those who studied the functions of life. “If such a separation were permanent”, Marey notes, if the two parallel sciences were not united at certain points, both would suffer. Zoology would then be only a dry catalogue of animal forms whose meaning would be unexplained, while physiology, confined to laboratories and reduced to experimentation upon mutilated animals, would teach us less how these animals live than how to make them die. ... In order to unite zoology and physiology it is necessary that these two sciences should have methods in common and should apply them under the same circumstances, which should neither be in the gallery of the zoologist, nor in the laboratory of the vivisector.... It is with this intention that the Physiological Station was established. Etienne-Jules Marey, “The Work of the Physiological Station at Paris”, in Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for 1894 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1895), 391-412; here, 391-392.
  • 13 See Galison and Daston, Objectivity, especially “Mechanical Objectivity”, 115-190.
  • 14 This view is reflected in comments on techniques for reproducing images through printing. For instance, the French illustrator Ernest Clair-Guyot (1856-1938) writes: I have perfected the operation of making the drawing, stripping it of every individual characteristic and making it so consistent that the work of the pencil and brush is no longer visible. It was absolutely photographic. The revolution was complete: in this case, the photograph reduced the draftsman to an anonymous role. E. Clair-Guyot, “Un demi-siècle à L’Illustration”, L’Illustration, no. 4713 (July 1,1933), n.p.
  • 15 The choice to use only the male pronoun in these cases throughout the chapter is deliberate and conscious. This choice does not certainly imply a desire to exclude the other genders. On the contrary, it is a question of underlining, through language, that the dominant historical subject of scientific practices and protocols was male. Feminist studies on the history of science, for example, have long been analyzing what have been (and are) the practices of marginalization and exclusion of women from the scientific professions, including through the concealment of their contributions, when they existed. The evident sexist elements of Marey’s method—starting from his exclusion of the female body as an object of study and the correlated abstract and neutral conception of the male body assumed as a body in general—might be the subject of a further essay that would question the characteristics of the production of scientific knowledge analyzed in this chapter using feminist and gender theories.

Etienne-Jules Marey, Développement de la méthode graphique par l’emploi de la photographie (Paris: G. Masson, 1885), 2.

See, among others, Joel Snyder, “Visualization and Visibility”, in Picturing Science, Producing Art, eds. Caroline Jones and Peter Galison (New York: Routledge, 1998), 379-400. See Georges Didi-Huberman, Invention of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière, trans. Alisa Hartz (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003), 29-66.

Space is too limited here to mention more than briefly the temporal aspect connected to the image as evidence: the new printing techniques made the image more durable and therefore granted it a characteristic stability (the idea that there existed an indelible mark), which impacted its meaning.

This feature makes Marey’s images heir to the traditional scientific illustration. It would be crucial to compare Marey’s use of photography with Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie plates. This comparison might enrich understanding of the autonomy of the images attributed to Marey’s photography.

Marta Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 64.

The method was later refined specifically to avoid overlapping, blurring, or an excess of visualization.

Georges Didi-Huberman associated this type of image (although in relation to medical photographic images) with the Hegelian notion of Vorstellung. See Didi-Huberman, Invention of Hysteria, 49.

This selection process should not be understood as an absence of detail in the images, but it was carried out by identifying the features of the movement and not by individualizing moving subjects. Consequently, the individuals’ movements were categorized as different types of movement, and it was necessary to adapt them when they did not correspond. (This is the disciplinary function of the creation of these typologies.)

See Marey, Le Mouvement, 70. This isolation of the subject in Marey’s work can also be seen in other photographic practices aimed at typing human beings, albeit for different ends. In addition to Eadweard Muybridge’s well-known work, see also ethnographic (e.g., J. H. Lamprey, “On a Method of Measuring the Human Form for the Use of Students of Ethnology”, Journal of the Ethnological Society of London 1 (1869): 8469), medical (e.g., H. W. Diamond, “On the Application of Photography to the Physiognomic and Mental Phenomena of Insanity”, Proceeding of the Royal Society 117 (1856) and in S. L. Gilman, The Face of Madness. Hugh W. Diamond and the Origin of Psychiatric Photography (New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1976)), criminal (e.g., A. Bertillon, La Photographie judiciaire, avec un appendice sur la classification et l’identification anthropométriques (Paris: Gauthier-Villars et fils, 1890)), and labor management (e.g., F. B. Gilbreth and L. M. Gilbreth, Fatigue Study. The Elimination of Humanity’s Greatest Unnecessary Waste (New York: Sturgis & Walton Company, 1916)) photographic studies.

See also Etienne-Jules Marey, “Emploi des photographies partielles pour étudier la locomotion de l’homme et des animaux”, Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de ¡’Académie des sciences 96 (1883): 1827-1831.

As Manuel Chemineau also notes, the series of articles by Etienne-Jules Marey outlining his research into the analysis of movement was one of La Nature’s most impressive and long-lived successes. Practically every issue of the journal detailed the progress of chronophotography along with descriptions of the work being carried out in the Paris-based Physiological Station. See Manuel Chemineau, Fortunes de “La Nature”, 1873-1914 (Vienna: Lit, 2012).

See, for example, René van Bastelaer, La rivalité de la gravure et de la photographie et ses conséquences (Brussels: Hayez, 1901).

This new model emerged from the idea, inherited from thermodynamics, that a body consists of a field of forces with the potential for conversions that generate energy. According to this idea, such conversions take the form of motion. Marey believed this movement

Chronophotography of Etienne-Jules Marey 101 could be reduced to relations of time and space and thoroughly measured. See Rabinbach, The Human Motor.

  • 30 Marey, “La station physiologique de Paris”, 226. This first part of the quote from Marey refers to his work with the graphic method, which he addressed in La Méthode graphique (Paris: G. Masson, 1878).
  • 31 Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu, “Du dessin de presse à la photographie (1878-1914): histoire d’une mutation technique et culturelle”, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 39, no. 1 (1992): 11.

8 Entangled environments

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