In recent years my major area of scholarly study has been the origins of film in the “age of wonder” and specifically the motion studies of the 19th century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. One of the extraordinary things about the technological revolution that
occurred at that time is that so much of the technology that was created was both wondrous and understandable. In Zoeusel I have used modern technology to recreate that sense of wonder wall basing the project on the easily understandable principal of persistence of vision. My intention is to first amaze and delight my audience and second to allow them the rare, in contemporary times, pleasure of coming to understand for themselves the underlying principal employed.
The magic of the carousel horses coming to life is achieved by breaking the motion of a galloping horse down into twelve recurring steps and then recreating those steps as twelve sculptors on the carousel. When a patron spins the carousel it cases a small strobe light to flash in precise coordination with the passage of the horses. Thus the faster you spin the carousel the faster the strobe light flashes. The affect is to present the twelve steps of the gallop individually to our brains and in raped succession. Because each step of the gallop persists in our vision in till the strobe flashes again and presents us with the next step of the gallop we see one horse galloping instead of 12 horses spinning.
The horses on the Zoeusel are modeled directly on the successive still photographs of a horse in motion taken by Edweard Muybridge in the 1880s as part of his motion studies. The original photographs are reproduced as a film on a monitor which is built into The Zoeusel. Each time the strobe light flashes a new frame in the film is presented on the monitor. This elegantly demonstrates the role of persistence of vision in film.
As an artist what I enjoy is that all of this is much more easily and enjoyably understood by playing with the Zoeusel then by describing it in words. Furthermore even without understanding of the underlying principle there is still persistence of magic.