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A digital zoetrope? As a new media nod to media that once was new, this image links to a Flash version, by Magnetic North’s creative director Brendan Dawes, of the original Edward Muybridge Zoetrope. A single image strip gradually moves across the stage in relation to your mouse. The more you move your mouse right, the faster the strip goes until eventually you see a moving image. For the Flash heads, this uses duplicate movie clip to create an infinite strip. Flash head or not, Bren has created a timely work worth considering.

digital zoetrope

And as Paul Harvey would say if he knew my password, here’s the rest of the story: “In 1872, former Governor of California Leland Stanford, a businessman and race-horse owner, had taken a position on a popularly-debated question of the day: whether all four of a horse’s hooves left the ground at the same time during a gallop. Stanford sided with this assertion, called “unsupported transit”, and took it upon himself to prove it scientifically. (Though legend also includes a wager of up to $25,000, there is no evidence of this.) Stanford sought out Muybridge and hired him to settle the question.

To prove Stanford’s claim, Muybridge developed a scheme for instantaneous motion picture capture. Muybridge’s technology involved chemical formulas for photographic processing and an electrical trigger created by the chief engineer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, John D. Isaacs.

At the Chicago 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Muybridge gave a series of lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion in the Zoopraxographical Hall, built specially for that purpose in the “Midway Plaisance” arm of the exposition. He used his zoopraxiscope to show his moving pictures to a paying public making the Hall the very first commercial movie theater.”

Since Muybridge’s time, for a hundred years media was a one-way communication, an often delightful monologue. Now it’s a dialogue, portable and interactive. A processing sketch, an iPhone app. You may not even tend to call it cinema — but in a way it is. Just as you may not have tended to call Muybridge’s work photography — even though he himself did — but in a way cinema is photography, too. Photography with the speed and vitality of horse racing. Like Bren’s work which is programming with horse racing’s vitality and which acknowledges his foundation on the shoulders of new media giants from previous generations. As to whether all four of a horse’s hooves leave the ground at the same time during a gallop, see for yourself…

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