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Modern Zoetropes
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The following are examples of contemporary artists working with the same principles of William Horner's 1834 invention, the Zoetrope, which gave rise to the illusion of movement through the presentation of sequential static images.

In both these examples, the artists have created a 3 dimensional Zoetropes and have used strobe lighting as a substitute of viewing slits which acts as a kind of shutter that synchronises with the spinning platform. Gregory Barsamian's work, 'Juggler' is life-sized.

"Time Stratum II" (1985) - a three-dimensional zoetrope sculpture by Toshio Iwai, exhibited at the Hiroshima Animation Festival. Inside a pyramid-like structure, 120 little paper dolls of the artist wearing a TV head were mounted on a disc three feet in diameter, surrounding a reflective silver ball. These dolls gyrated, moved in and away from each other, turned, and rotated. It was like a crowded dance floor of choreographed clones.

"All of my work begins with animation and never strays too far from it. I started making these simple flipbooks when I was in about fourth grade. The margins of all my elementary school textbooks were filled with these. This is where my work begins. The excitement I got from making these animations has never disappeared - that and the fact that these are personal media, things you can carry around and look at alone."

"Movement is still my greatest interest. I believe movement itself is a communicative language, and I'm trying to use it that way. If we see an interesting type of motion, say, a flock of birds turning in coordination, we often get involved in what it is that's moving - birds, in this case. But even if it were not birds, but just dots on a screen or something else equally abstract, we can still be totally engaged by it."

From an interview with Toshio Iwai by Azby Brown, 1997
"Juggler" (1997) Gregory Barsamian
ICC Collection, Japan

In his work, 'Juggler', life-size wire mesh figures of an acrobat single-mindedly juggles with a telephone receiver that in the air transforms into a nursing bottle, milk, a dice, and a bone, before gliding down on a parachute back into the juggler's hand.

The sensation of movement is achieved by arranging several figures and objects in suitable sequential positions around a rotating cylindrical construction and using flashing strobe lights. Making visible things that don't exist, the overlapping of time and space creates an illusion of the juggler breaking free from the construction he is attached to. Barsamian explores aspects of expectation and conflict between man and machine - a central theme in the artist's work.


Sources and Other References - The Modern Zoetrope:

The Trace of Toshio Iwai's Media Art:

Profile of Toshio Iwai, Media Artist:

The Works of Toshio Iwai

A Visit and Interview with Toshio Iwai:

ICC - the 'Juggler'

Gregory Barsamian - the work and artist's statement

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