The Anatomy of Movement.
Photographs by Harold Edgerton. Text by Gus Kayafas, José Gómez Isla.
La Fabrica, 2011. 92 pp., Illustrated throughout, 11¾x11".
An array of hydra like tentacles surround a ragged
white ring (the immediate aftermath of a drop of
milk falling onto a table); a sensuous red shape
being stretched out at one end by a dense black
spot (a bullet, in fact, being shot through a candle
flame). MIT scientist Harold Edgerton (1903–1990)
devoted much of his career to revealing images
like these—moments exponentially too brief
for the human eye to ever glimpse in real time,
which today are a familiar part of our visual
lexicon. As an inventor and electrical engineer,
“Doc” Edgerton created and patented a series of
high-speed electric flash mechanisms that
enabled his cameras to capture the tiniest slices
of time, and produced a substantial body of
work almost as a byproduct of his experiments
and researches. In this respect, Edgerton’s
photographs can be seen as the surprising results
of his adventures in mechanics, and as worthy
successors to the earlier efforts of Eadweard
Muybridge to divide up time and transcend the
limits of the human eye. The literally arresting
images collected in this survey of his career
occupy a fascinating midground status between
art and scientific artifact, and reveal Edgerton
as a man magnificently obsessed with the
paradoxes and wonders of motion.