Verbing Man is the latest in a series of animation devices which I call Image Engines. It was designed to maximize interactivity. It is an animated sculpture which, like a zoetrope, uses persistence of vision to create an illusion of continuous motion from a series of “frames”. Verbing Man offers unprecedented interactivity for this type of sculpture due to the use of 12 poseable artist mannequins as frames, making it possible for the animation to be repeatedly altered and remade by viewers. Further, the mannequins are arranged on a platter which viewers rotate by means of a crank in order to bring the animation to life.
Verbing Man uses new materials to reinvent a 19th century technology in which an inner circle of mirrors was used to animate, in reflection, an outer circle of flat images mounted on the same rotating wheel. Verbing Man is likely the largest praxinoscope ever made with a wheel diameter of 4 feet instead of the more typical 4 inches. For technical reasons, it is also likely that this is the first time a praxinoscope has been used to animate three dimensional objects. The use of mirrors instead of strobe lights or slits means that animations are visible in almost any lighting condition, from candle light to full sun, and from all sides at almost any angle.