created by Rian Brown at the Headlands Center for the Arts Residency in 2006
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Phenakistoscope comes from the Greek word phenax (deceiver) and scopein (the see) and the design was invented by Joseph Plateau in 1832- a spinning wheel that bears a series of drawn images that are spun in front of a mirror. Here I create my own versions of these objects from my films and drawings. This body of work investigates the history of motion and optical technologies. I would like to illustrate how these technologies are not new or derivative of a certain culture, but a part of a long collective history that dates back to the early shadow puppet theater and shamanistic light play of Cro-Magnon cave paintings. My research will look at the relationship between the old and new motion and optical technologies and will result in a collection of artistic objects (kinetic sculptures), video projections, and animations that highlight the relationship between the incunabula of pre-cinema and its relationship to the digital pixel. I was researching the way in which humans have sought ways to create the illusion of motion, from the shadow and light-play of cave paintings, 2nd-century Roman Mosaics, 17th-century magic lanterns, 19th-century optical toys, 20th-century motion pictures to digital imaging of the 21st century. Through these objects, I would like for the viewer to reconnect with the magic of light and shadow, and to think about how the will to animate still images is a part of our collective history.