The Kiss, like most of the image sequences in the Muybride Online archive, was produced some time between 1872 and 1885, significantly before the invention of the motion picture camera. It was created using banks of still cameras firing in sequence. Essentially every one of Muybridge’s plates is a film first.
The fact that this kiss is so different from the previous contenders for first filmed kiss will shock some and I hope intrigue many more. It raises questions about our understanding of the history of human sexuality, as well as the history of film. The Kiss, like many of the photographic series Muybridge created, was intended to inform the scientific and artistic understanding of human motion. To that end, many of these photos are of minimally clad or unclothed people engaged in everyday activities such as walking or working. He may have chosen to photograph the kiss with two women because in the context of Victorian culture this was more likely to be seen as innocent. For this reason many of Muybridge’s photos showing interactions between what might be expected to be men and women use women for both roles.