Phantom Skies and Shifting Ground: Landscape, Culture, and Rephotography in Eadweard Muybridge's Illustrations of Central America


This was a complex project spanning nearly ten years and tens of thousands of miles. The support that we’ve received, and generosity encountered, has been extraordinary. We want to first thank our families who sustained us in our endeavors and during our many absences from home.

We received funding from numerous sources, each critical in their own way. It all started with a startup grant from the California State University (CSU), Chico Research Foundation. Byron would like to thank President Paul Zingg at CSU, Chico for his support and encouragement as well as the institutional support provided through the David W. and Helen E. F. Lantis Fellowship and a sabbatical award.

A 2009-2010 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship was pivotal in that it allowed Byron to travel the country to catalog and study every known Muybridge album—the foundational research upon which much of this project depends. Our fieldwork was also supported by the Department of Geography and Planning, the Department of Communication Design, and the College of Regional and Continuing Education, all at CSU, Chico.

More recently, we’ve received publication support from Temple University through a Tyler School of Art Dean’s Grant, a Center for the Arts Provost’s Grant, and a Temple Presidential Humanities Grant. We also received support for publication costs from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at CSU, Chico.

Access to original Muybridge albums was essential and several institutions and individuals were vital in their support. Gary Kurutz at the California State Library got the ball rolling with unfettered access to that institution’s album. David Schoen at Niagara University did the same. The bulk of Muybridge imagery in this book is drawn from Stanford University’s Special Collections and it’s fair to say that the project would have been impossible without their support in the form of access and permissions. Mattie Taormina, Head of Public Services/Processing Manuscripts Librarian at Stanford University, Special Collections, graciously and patiently handled a steady stream of inquiries and requests. Catharina Slautterback, Curator of Prints & Photographs, and Patricia Boulos, Digital Programs Librarian, both at the Boston Athenaeum were generous with their time and access to their album. Denise Gosé and Rebecca Senf provided important access and copies of prints from the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. And thank you to Kristen Nyitray at State University New York at Stony Brook, which holds the only (known) complete album of Muybridge Central American Photographs.

While traveling in Guatemala we had the enthusiastic assistance of several people who helped with access to Las Nubes Finca including William Hempstead, Adolfo Boppel, and the Castillo family. Our time there was special and memorable. Barbara Arroyo Pieters was gracious and supportive of our investigations at Naranja. In Panama, Dra. Angeles R. Baquero eagerly provided entry into the Museo del Canal (formerly the Grand Hôtel) in order to relocate one of Muybridge’s important rooftop views. We also received assistance and counsel from Eduardo Tejeira Davis and Christian Strassnig. Our former student Oliver Hutton was a great traveling companion.

Many colleagues offered advice and guidance to us through the years and countless conversations. A sincere thank you to Byron’s colleagues and collaborators Mark Klett and Rebecca Solnit. William Fox, Roy Flukinger, and Alexa Dilworth deserve extra thanks for their early and unreserved support. Tom Patton, Troy Jollimore, Kate Palmer Albers, Holly Markovitz Goldstein, Steven Hoelscher, Phillip Prodger, Philip Brookman, Joby Bass, Craig Revels, Matthew Taylor, and William Davidson, each provided valuable feedback on our manuscript and imagery. Toby Jurovics, Sara Kennel, Charlotte Cotton, and David Eagleman were generous and thoughtful with their responses to inquiries.

At Temple University Press we’ve been patiently and steadfastly guided and supported by editor Sara Jo Cohen and Executive Director Mary Rose Muccie. Annie Johnson has been invaluable in helping to produce and refine this online version of the project. David Chickey at Radius books has been a wonderful collaborator.

Scott and Byron, 2017