Archive for October 2nd, 2008

Dream of Pastures Zoopraxiscope: a bike-driven movie projector

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Eadweard Muybridge was hired by Leland Stanford to answer the question if a horse had all four legs in the air at any time at a full gallop. Although in 1878 he had already proved this with a single photograph the following year he devised a more elaborate setup with twenty-four cameras setup over a twenty foot length triggered by the horse’s hoofs as it galloped past. The resulting photographs were widely published (and later the basis for a book by Stanford) and a popular culture sensation.


Realizing that he was onto something, here Eadweard invented the Zoopraxiscope which projected images from a rotating glass disk to give the impression of motion – creating the first movie projector.

In 2008 Mitchell f Chan and Brad Hindson created A Dream of Pastures funded by Ontario Arts Council to be exhibited on the exterior of the Art Gallery of Ontario for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche All-Night contemporary art festival.

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Mitchell says:

A Dream of Pastures is an interactive outdoor sculpture and animated light projection. On the exterior wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the ghostly form of a horse glows on the shadowy brick. On the ground several meters in front of it, a stationary bicycle beckons for investigation from the viewer.

As the viewer pedals the bicycle, he discovers that the phantom horse moves accordingly, animated by a mysterious system of projecting lights and turning gears. The viewer pedals more vigorously, the gears rotate more quickly, and the horse of light breaks into a gallop. Sitting in the saddle, the viewer creates a shadow that lines up with the horse, casting himself as a jockey in the projected world, galloping through the empty pastures of a fictitious world at an exhilarating pace.

It’s not clear to me if the connection is intentional or coincidence, but I’d like to think it’s a modern interactive interpretation of an important historical moment.

More information here

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