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Swirls and Eddies: Tennis
Named collection: Harold E. Edgerton Collection
Object type: negative
Maker: Date made: 1939
Measurements: 8" x 10"
In the 19th century, French physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey made multiple-exposure studies of people and animals in motion. In order to isolate the movements of particular body parts, he often draped his subjects in black cloth. This photo of a tennis swing is reminiscent of the fluid images of Marey. Edgerton, like Marey, clothed his tennis player in black in order to focus better on the racket, the ball, and the athlete's hands and face. But what Marey had to accomplish with mechanical shutters and rotating glass plates, Edgerton's strobe made simple. At 120 flashes per second, each increment of a tennis player's movement was caught on film. This photograph was selected by Edward Steichen for The Museum of Modern Art's collection. (see "Stopping Time" (1987), pp. 84-5) (CC)