From gigantic televisions to tiny iPods, the moving image today is all around
us. Mobile phones capture it, play it and share it digitally, while advertising
hoardings have leapt firmly into the realm of science fiction,
animating their once-static messages before our eyes. We
may take modern video for granted, but the first steps
towards true motion pictures began with simple yet
marvellous toys of optical illusion.
In the days before the earliest forms of cinema were
created by the Lumière brothers in 1895, Victorian optical
toys provided a charming and instructive array of moving
picture demonstrations. They were often simple in design and use
but their names suggested fearsome technical complexity: Phenakistiscopes,
Praxinoscopes and Choreutoscopes. Yet these elaborately
named devices were mass produced for a huge general
audience. At the same time, scientists were delving deeper
into optical phenomena, including the persistence of
images on the retina, from which an illusion of movement
can be obtained.Such investigations led to a rich and visually stunning
assortment of optical instruments. From the fancily named
Thaumatrope to the simple Flip Book, the toys outlined in this
exhibition heralded the emergence of cinema, but retained an enduring appeal
long after movies hit the silver screen.

>> Exhibition Objects Inventory

Introduction | Phenakistiscope | Thaumatrope | Zoetrope | Choreutoscope| Praxinoscope | Flip Books

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