art & design

Phenakistoscopes, Zoetropes, & Praxinoscopes, Oh My!

Today I was doing some research & brainstorming with my work crew for one of our Clients. I won’t go into details of the brief, but the conversation was focused on creating something physical to celebrate/honor something digital and video-based. Obviously this isn’t groundbreaking territory, and the outcome is still very much a work in progress, but it brought some nice topics into discussion.

One of which was the evolution of the phenakistoscope. The ‘original animated GIF’ has enjoyed some recent posting love so I won’t simply regurgitate the nice collections Juxtapoz and This is Colossal have already put out into the world.  Ok fine, here’s a small taste: 



A quick history sum-up: the phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope were all ‘pre-animation’ devices that created the illusion of motion by displaying rapid sequences of drawings or photos. They’re all essentially versions of the same concept, just altered and improved over time. A Belgian physicist named Joseph Plateau is credited with inventing the first phenakistoscope device, but there were a lot of scientists, mathematicians, and such working on the same idea at the same time. 

The end results are obviously nice, but the most interesting part to me was looking back at the devices themselves. Metallic, merry-go-round cake-pan wonders.




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