Elliot Schultz Has Combined Embroidery And Turntables To Form A Groundbreaking Zoetrope Animation

Elliot Schultz - Mixed Media

Elliot Schultz - Mixed Media

Elliot Schultz - Mixed Media

What is more fascination than the moving image? How about a technique that creates moving images without any film? Artist Elliot Schultz has refined his own version of zoetropes, which is a method of filmless animation. This magic is created by taking a series of images and rotating them in a fast pace. Combined with the use of a strobe light, the sequence appears seamless as if it is the same image moving over and over. Schultz has taken this traditional technique and made it his own. He stitches wiggling worms, dripping water, and old men walking onto fabric in the shape of a circle. These ten-inch discs are the perfect size to be placed onto any turntable, and what is a turntable best for if not to spin! The embroidered images are rotated so fast that it appears just as if they are moving. Since strobe lights often go along with clubs, djs, and turntables, using this unique method almost seems a natural fit for a zoetrope.

Early inventions of the pin screen along with other alternative animation methods have deeply influenced Schultz’s work. He finds inspiration in engineers and animators involved with early cinema such as Claire Parker and Alexandre Alexeieff. Schultz is always experimenting with new mediums and techniques to further develop his interesting series. This incredibly innovative artist is somewhat of an engineer himself, bringing a bit of the history of animation into the contemporary world of electronic music and turntables. (via This is Colossal)

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Richard Balzer’s 19th Century Optical Toy Gifs

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Forty years ago, Richard “Dick” Balzer saw his very first magic lantern – an early image projector invented in the 1600s. This encounter would prove to be the start of an intense preoccupation with early animation technology. Following this discovery,  Balzer began collecting magic lanterns and other optical toys, eventually amassing thousands of illustrations and machines that can now be found at his Boston-area home. His collection includes literature concerning the early animation machinery, as well as 150-year-old optical toys like henakistiscopes, zoetropes, praxinoscopes, and other “scopes” and “tropes” derived from the Greek words for “viewer.”

According to Balzer’s site, “There was a period, the last seventy five years of the 19th century, when scientific experimentation based on the phenomenon of ‘the persistence of vision’ in which the brain retains the impression of an object for a fraction of a second after its disappearance creating the possibility of apparent motion.” These early animation toys and machines sought to merge images to create uninterrupted motion. “We’re all interested in seeing movement,” says Balzer. “It was a different time, but the same challenge: How do you make things move?” These early animated loop illustration toys and machines mark the beginnings of the animated loop file we frequently encounter on the internet – the gif.

Five years ago, Balzer began digitizing his collection with the help of LA-based animator, Brian Duffy because he wished to share the early animations with a larger audience. So far, Balzer and Duffy have digitized only a fraction of the collection (which they periodically upload on Tumblr) due to the trial-and-error process involved in getting the speed of each animation just right. The creators of the early toys and machines probably never anticipated that their images would become as widely and immediately available as they currently are through the work of dedicated people like Balzer and Duffy.

The Verge notes, “Balzer refrains from theorizing about how his archival work may influence others, or what it might say about digital art and visual vocabulary today, noting that there are several other organizations undertaking similar efforts. His goal, he says, is to simply share his passion with as wide an audience as possible while preserving works of art that may have otherwise been forgotten.”

Balzer says, “I mean, these are just extraordinary feats of animation that took place more than 150 years ago.” “And if you’re just holding on to them, I think you should share them with other people.” (via the verge and wired)

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