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.