Tag Archives: motion

Manic Monday: Hysteric for Charcot’s Mysterious Medical Muses

Charcot - Frighteningly Real

Charcot {29 November 1825 – 16 August 1893}

Remembered today as a leading mind in the fields of neurology and psychology, Jean-Martin Charcot‘s legacy is as much in his strange medical photography, as his famous pupils (Sigmund Freud and Georges Gilles de la Tourette), and important breakthroughs in the field.

Taken for research purposes, these bizarre medical photographs were used to document the various affects and disorders of the 19th century’s most scandalous disorder – Female Hysteria.

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Charcot- Say Hello To My God- Science and Faith - Art and Reality- Vintage Style

For thousands of years, hysteria has plagued the medical community as a bit of a mystery. Known as “the wandering womb” by Hippocrates since the Ancient Greeks, the known method for treatment was almost always pregnancy until the 19th Century when a vaginal massage and/or stimulation using a vibrator or water hose administered by your family doctor was the modern approach.

Charcot, however, was interested in the minds of these plagued women, and hoped to use one of technology’s latest advancements, photography, to aid his research.

Charcot- vintage medical photography- wild history

Charcot - The Ladies - Magic Medical Mystery (x4)

Charcot - Many Faces and Treatments - Art and Medicine

What resulted is a macabre collection of photographs that capture terrifying and strange lost moments between doctor and patient. He took these photographs over the course of many years with hundreds of different women, as well as men (murderers and convicts) to decipher the physical codes of the world’s most confusing ancient tradition – madness.

The Eye of Faith- Charcot - Strange Behaviour

Charcot - Twisted Sister

Charcot - Vintage Style - Design Wise - Images - Man Alive

Although some of his attendants and colleagues who describe these photography sessions as highly staged, with Charcot demanding perfection of the moment that usually occurred back at the hospital, beyond the truthful eyes of the 19th Century camera. He painstakingly ensured the detail captured in each photograph was true to, what he thought, was the true depiction of the disease and its many characteristics.

Charcot- Master Mystery Tour- Vintage Medical Photography- Hysteric

 

The photographs are very specific and plain. No out of element lighting techniques or off angles – just the subject, and their explicit diagnoses. What came through is a very disturbing display.

The photographs were used to illustrate the true nature of this neurological disorder to a society fascinated by the elaborate and unusual. While many of the women were unable to be treated for their “problems”, they remain unforgettable figures of our modern life.

L0034940 Series of three photos showing a hysterical screaming woman

Today, they are as awesome and curious as ever, with hardly anything in our contemporary culture to compare these majestic and mysterious medical muses.

We really wanted to share. Don’t get hysteric!

Until we meet again,

{theEye}

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Life in Motion. Happy Birthday Eadweard Muybridge.

Eadweard J. Muybridge was born Born on the 9th of April 1830 and lived until May 8th 1904.  He was an English photographer who spent much of his professional life in the United Stated.  Born Edward James Muggeridge, he was of Dutch descent. Muggeridge changed his name several times early in his US career. In the 1870s, he changed his first name again to Eadweard, to match the spelling of King Edward shown on the plinth of the Kingston coronation stone.   He is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion which used multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible perforated film strip.

In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves are off the ground at the same time during the trot. Up until this time, most paintings of horses at full gallop showed the front legs extended forward and the hind legs extended to the rear.  His Horse in Motion shows that the hooves do all leave the ground simultaneously — although not with the legs fully extended forward and back, as contemporary illustrators tended to imagine, but rather at the moment when the horse’s legs and hooves are tucked beneath as it switches from “pulling” with the front legs to “pushing” with the back legs.

In his studies, Muybridge used a series of large glass-plate cameras placed in a line, each one being triggered by a thread as the horse passed. Later he used a clockwork device to set off the shutters and capture the images. The images were copied in the form of silhouettes onto a disc and viewed in a machine called a zoopraxiscope. This device and process were an intermediate stage toward motion pictures or cinematography. This series of photos stands as one of the earliest forms of videography.
 In 1874, living in San Francisco Bay Area, Muybridge discovered that his wife had a lover, a Major Harry Larkyns. On October 17th, he sought out Larkyns and said, “Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here’s the answer to the letter you sent my wife.” He shot and killed the Major pointblank.  Ultimately he was acquitted for “justifiable homicide” thanks to Stanford who footed his legal fee’s.

Muybridge would go on to dedicate his life to his work and many studies involving motion.   And his exhibitions are still touring today.  It might just be the smoking gun, but we respect and love a true genius who marches to his own beat, and never hesitates at something, or someone standing in his way.
The Eye.

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