Joseph’s Illusion: A Tribute to the Inventor of the Phenakistoscope

3 June 2016

Ever heard of the Phenakistoscope? You have probably seen one in action at some point even if you can’t remember (or, frankly, pronounce) its name.  The device, invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau demonstrated the illusion of a moving image using the persistence of vision principle (that’s where multiple images blend in to a single image – in our minds at least).  To do this Plateau used counter rotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and recurrently spaced slits in the other.

Pask D'Amico at Klesha Production is fascinated by the old methods of animation and recently found scans of a number of them on the internet.  This precipitated a successful attempt to digitally animate them.  To give it a story, as it were, D’Amico then created a stop motion with paper toys from Plateau’s era that open and close the video.  The result? Fascinating, charming and pretty addictive – just try and stop watching this once it’s started!

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