Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Update For Friday's Show

Alex Inglizian + Tim Shaw will be replacing Swift


Media.Obscura :: Thaumatropes

Friday, March 30, 2007 8:00 PM

Media|Time.artz are being constantly remixed and reframed as devices of institutional critiques, expressive modes of individual|personal hystories, and investigations of plasticity and medium malleability. MEDIA OBSCURA aims at locating a pinhole to allow for these conversations to flood into focus through lens-less instances of art|media making. In making an obvious reference to the tool that inspired cinema|photography, MEDIA OBSCURA will gravitate away from those origins, and create a point of entry purposefully made to diffuse the upside-down to the point of proper obscurity. The event will consists of live|realTime performances, and single channel screenings that will hopefully disrupt expectations of clarity that an otherwise proper camera obscura would give.


Media.Obscura :: Thaumatropes
BUSKER at The Flowershop
2159 West 21st Place (at Leavitt)
03.30.07 8:00 PM
FREE & Open

Screenings and Performances by:

Mike Miles
Alex Inglizian + Tim Shaw
Noisecrush + The Fortieth Day


BUSKER presents a night of screenings and performances by local chicago artists in its first instance of it's new curatorial platform Media.Obscura compiled by Nicholas O'Brien. In attempting to create a duologue between NewMedia/ A|V/video installation and their critical implications (or cultural influences), O'Brien creates a space where issues involving "source" become considered when thinking about how to engage with work of this sort. In appropriating the terminology on "arcane" technology, the project hopes to invoke discussions/conversations that reflect ideas of media archeology as hytorical references that might contribute to the works formulation. The infrastructure of Media arts and technology has obviously evolved since the days of the Camera Obscura, however O'Brien suggests that the fundamental processes involved in [New]Media making are actually not as disparate as suggested by the idea of "progress." The artist used the camera obscura as a technology of both recording and observing the world and using those to create art. The Media.Obscura essentially does the same, however the lens that contemporary artists use is one that has becomes purposefully fractured and allows for a multi-logue to occur.

The Thaumatrope was a toy that played with persistence of vision by having a card spin on a piece of string when pulled. In this vein, BUSKER will host a night where the string and the card have been substituted for other Media, but where artists Mike Miles, jon.satrom, Alex Inglizian + Tim Shaw, and Noise Crush (aka Lisa Slodki) + The Fortieth Day (aka Isidro Reyes and Mark Solotroff of BLOODYMINDED) might be able to rekindle the optical illusions the thuamatrope gave us.



John Ayrton Paris, 1825


The invention of the thaumatrope, whose name means "turning marvel" or "wonder turner," has often been credited to the astronomer Sir John Herschel. However, it was a well-known London physicist, Dr. John A. Paris, who made this toy popular. Thaumatropes were the first of many optical toys, simple devices that continued to provide animated entertainment until the development of modern cinema.

How it works:

A thaumatrope is a small disc, held on opposite sides of its circumference by pieces of string. An image is drawn on each side of the disc, and is selected in such a way that when the disc is spun, the two images appear to become superimposed. To spin the disc, one string is held in a hand, and the disc is rotated to wind the string. Then, both strings are held, and the disc is allowed to rotate. Gently stretching the strings will ensure that they continue to unwind and rewind. This motion causes the disc to rotate, first in one direction and then in the opposite. The faster the disc rotates, the greater the clarity of the illusion.

Although the thaumatrope does not produce animated scenes, it relies on the same persistence of vision principle that other optical toys use to create illusions of motion. Persistence of vision is the eye's ability to retain an image for roughly 1/20 of a second after the object is gone. In this case, the eye continues to see the two images on either side of the thaumatrope shortly after each has disappeared. As the thaumatrope spins, the series of quick flashes is interpreted as one continuous image.

One example of a thaumatrope has a tree with bare branches on one side, and on the other, its leaves. When spun, the tree appears to be full of leaves. Another example has a bird on one side, and a cage on the other. When spun, the bird appears to be in its cage. The bird-cage pair of images were used on the first thaumatrope, and is the most common one seen on thaumatropes today.

What became of it:

Most pairs of thaumatrope images were pictures that did not imply motion, such as running animals or dancing people. A thaumatrope could only take two images and merge them, essentially creating one still image from two. The phenakistoscope was a great improvement on the thaumatrope, creating one moving image from several stills, and became the first optical toy to create a true illusion of motion.

Links to animations

Animated GIFs

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