Still Life: The Portrait of Time in ‘Boyhood’

Cinema began with a gamble.

In 1872, experimental photographer Eadweard Muybridge was tasked with settling a bet. The former governor of California, Leland Stanford, had made a wager over the long-debated mystery of whether or not a horse, while in full gallop, ever actually took all four of its legs off the ground. It was a query that had fascinated people (enthusiasts of the minutia of galloping horses, mostly) throughout history. The human eye, trapped in experiencing the world around it at one constant, inalterable speed, was simply unable to see for itself what was going on amidst the blur of a horse’s legs in motion.

Muybridge accepted the challenge, and soon captured the proof – a photograph in which all four of the horse’s feet were indeed lifted from the ground at once – settling the bet. He had captured a moment in time,

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