grids within grids
"The verbal dialectic in Muybridge's catalogue between the generalising titles and the precise data of the notes corresponds to a dialectic within the images. It might be called a dialectic of subject and method. The inherently compelling subject - naked men and women - is set into a neutral framework. The timeless, functionless, autonomous human actions depicted - actions often adapted from Romantic painting - are countered by the site in which they take place, commanded by the gridwork. The grid, in turn, implies the systematic methodology of which it is part. It's use was suggested by Thomas Aikens, a painter noted for his careful studies of perspective and anatomy, to facilitate analysis of the movements. The white crosslines formed a network of regular coordinates making it possible to plot the movements superimposed on them in the photographs. But the grid has another effect: because it is the most inert, inorganic mode of delineating space, the rectangular grid provides the most dramatic means of establishing the separateness of human beings from the physical objects surrounding them."
[Image: 'A Shock to the Nervous System', taken from Muybridge's The Human Figure in Motion: An Electrophotographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Muscular Actions (p. 117). Text: Narration in Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (Thom Andersen, 1975).]