The Race: Artist Statement

The Race (2017) is an exploration of animation, pre and post-digital. Influenced by the godfather of animation, Eadweard Muybridge and his series of photographs depicting motion, I wanted to create a series of animations using digital and physical cutouts of Muybridges sequences. This is a two part installation, as there is the contemporary phenakistoscope, made using a record vinyl and a turntable along with a projected image element. Phenakistoscope’s are that of the past so I wanted to add a modern twist by eliminating the motion slits in between each frame and adding a strobe light above the spinning disc. What was initially supposed to be a zoetrope due to the fact that only one person can view a phenakistoscope at a time, while the zoetrope can be enjoyed by a wide audience, the modern phenakistoscope allows more than one audience member to view the installation by adding a digital animation aspect to it. The projected image is a loop using the same sequences on the phenakistoscope, but placed in a way to tell the narrative of a never ending wacky race. These characters are in a loop, giving the illusion of constant motion.

The Race: Physical Animation

Below are the two different types of Phenakistoscopes I have created for this project. The first one I made was slightly bigger than a record in order to include more sequences. Unfortunately, this disc didn’t spin as smoothly on the record player due to its size and the materials used (light cardboard) however, I created another disc the size of a record and stuck it to the record to make it more solid and playable on the turntable. This time, the smaller disc worked, especially since there was less sequences, the strobe was able to sync easier to this disc rather than the first one, creating the illusion of motion.

Disc attempt #1: The larger disc

Disc attempt #2: The record disc (The one that works)

the two discs side-by-side

The Race: Digital Animation

Below is my digital animation, created with Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. Firstly, I cut out each sequence from the original images in Adobe Photoshop, creating a layer for each frame, saving them as .PSD files to retain each layer, then I exported the .PSD files into Adobe After Effects and onto a timeline which created a movie file of each sequence. I then merged all the movie files onto a timeline and placed them one after the other to give the illusion of a race. The background in this video is plain white and theres been no masking around the characters in order to maintain the original backgrounds of the sequences, this gives the audience a glimpse into the technical aspects used to create this video.

Jump into the never ending carousel ride that is Muybridge’s characters, competing for the non-existant finish line.

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 3.02.20 AM
Screenshot of timeline in Adobe After Effects

Cutting and Creating a Narrative

I’ve selected six different Muybridge sequences in order to create my two animations: the Phenakistoscope and the digital animation.

The narrative is based on a wacky Muybridge race, open to all species: human and animals, the only catch is that its in an infinite loop! A homage to Muybridge: the Godfather of Animation.

The sequences I have chosen are displayed below, in various sizes to cut out and stick onto the spinning disc.

and here is a template for reference for the frames of the disc.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 10.40.24 PM

Making a Contemporary Phenakistoscope

I’ve decided to ditch the Zoetrope and create a Phenakistoscope instead, however, I want my Phenakistoscope to be contemporary and evolved from those which were made in 1832. I’ve been researching modern Phenakistoscopes and have found several useful sites which featured turntables and vinyls as a modern way to create Phenakistoscopes.

The Vinyl Factory published an article with “The 10 most mind-bending vinyl Zoetropes” which provoked some inspiration.

I am going to use a cardboard disc, the diameter of a record (or slightly bigger, depending on the number of sequences I use) and divide the frames in order to place each frame of the Muybridge sequences around in a circle.

Now the advantage of a Zoetrope was that more than one person can view the animation at one time, but this is a contemporary Phenakistoscope, so I plan to create a digital animation of the same sequences and project it onto the wall behind the Phenakistoscope, so that a wider audience can participate in viewing of the artwork.

Another element that has been evolved since the original Phenakistoscope is the need for the slits in the middle of each frame. These slits work in the same way as the ones on the Zoetrope, they act as a strobe light, giving life to the still images. Instead of including slits on my disc, I have found a strobe light that I can suspend from the ceiling onto the record player and create the moving animation effect. The strobe light I have purchased also has various speed settings, allowing me to be able to add more or less frames to the loop – as some of the Muybridge sequences have more frames than others, I will be looping a few of them.

Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs album Phenakistoscope artwork

And More Iteration..

I’ve been having some difficulty within the past week getting the multiple layers on my zoetrope working so I’ve been researching alternative zoetropes. Upon my research, I found a TEDx talk by Eric Dyer called “Art of the Zoetrope” (2017) which gave me a lot of ideas for my zoetrope, including flattening it and making it a phenakistoscope.


Zoetrope Vs. Phenakistoscope

While the Zoetrope is a three-dimensional drum, the Phenakistoscope is a spinning disc. Although the Zoetrope allows a larger audience to view the animation at the same time, rather than just one with the Phenakistoscope, the Phenakistoscope can have multiple sequences in the one disc.

If i go with a Phenakistoscope rather than a Zoetrope, I can add several of the Muybridge sequences in the one animation like i intended to and failed with the Zoetrope.


Testing a Cut-Out Silhouette Zoetrope

After recent feedback, I’ve decided to use multiple layers to create several animation sequences within the one zoetrope. To avoid shadows due to a light being placed directly placed above the zoetrope, I’ve decided to add a cutout layer and a transparent layer. The cutout layer would eliminate the need for the “strobe slits” cardboard around the outside of the zoetrope so instead, I’ve created a single slit cardboard which will project one frame at a time (eliminating shadows and light leaking onto the other layers). For the transparent layer, I want to use clear projector paper and either print on a sequence or hand draw it. I’m thinking of continuing to use the Muybridge sequences, as I did for my prototype, and create a narrative from them.

Below is my beta test of the cutout, using materials I had at hand, just to get a rough idea on how the cutout and the single slit cardboard will work together.