Early Movements

Dangerous Minds posted some of these earlier which sent us down the rabbit hole of the Phenakistoscope, Thaumatrope, and other forms of early movement and animation (one of our favorites is Eadweard Muybridge, whose work we’ve used in our video projections before).

Since DM already did such a good job explaining, we’ll just quote them here:

“Phenakistoscope” was the term favored by a Belgian inventor named Joseph Plateau. (The term “phenakistoscope” comes from the Greek phenakizein, meaning “to deceive.”) Plateau’s idea was to put 10 images or so around a circular plate, each image being slightly different to its neighbor and the entire set of images being cyclical in nature, such that when the image was spun rapidly and the viewer’s gaze was interrupted by as many equally spaced radial slits on the disc as there were separate images, a cyclical set of moving images would emerge. You would have needed a mirror to use the phenakistoscope; other devices used a second disc to supply the visual interruptions.

Awesome. To deceive indeed. Below are some of our favorite examples of this early animation, and there’s a HUGE collection of Phenakistoscopes and more at The Richard Balzer Collection. So much happy for the eyes + inspiration for our video projects and even our design. To marvel at what people were able to create back when there was so little technology at their disposal – sometimes creating work more compelling and captivating than what we can do in our hyper-advanced world – is one of our favorite things.






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