LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Zootropes, developed in the 1800s, are a bit like very short early films. A series of sequential images within a cylindrical device is viewed through slits on the sides of the device, and when the viewer spins the zoetrope, the images appear to move, creating animation.
Baltimore-based artist Eric Dyer brought the zoetrope from the 1800s to the present day and to the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design in Lancaster, which is currently showcasing Dyer’s work in the exhibition “Pulse and Flow: Art of the Modern Zoetrope ”.
Dyer started his career working in animation and music direction direction, he explained during an artist talk at PCA & D on Friday, November 12.
“I found out that I was spending a lot of time in front of a screen for a job that would be presented on a screen… so it really made me want to get my hands on the job,” Dyer said. “It made me look back 180 years – this desire to be more tactile with the creation of my work – at the zoetrope.”
“We’re used to movies, but what about the moving object? What about the motion artifact? Dyer questioned.
By replacing the zoetrope’s slits with a perfectly synchronized camera shutter, Dyer began to create films using the same principles as the zoetrope. He builds sculptures from still images or figures, then spins the creation and captures the movement on film.
His work “Copenhagen Cycles”, For example, featured scenes from a trip to Denmark. Dyer captured interesting moments of movement on video during his trip, then converted the video into long strips of still images, which he printed and manipulated to construct approximately 25 paper sculptures the size of a bicycle wheel. . Then he captures the movement of the sculptures.
“All of these image sequences… have become like a moving collage or a moving pop-up book,” Dyer described. “There’s something about taking the real world and miniaturizing it, gluing it, and then putting it on the movie screen. This change of scale is really satisfying.
The change in scale from the wheel-sized sculpture to the movie screen is exciting, but “Copenhagen Cycles” got even bigger when it was presented as a Times Square midnight moment in 2015, during which the film was shown on all screens in Times Square in New York.
From there, Dyer started working with 3D printed sculptures then interactive exhibits.
“Girona octopusWhich is one of the pieces in the exhibition at PCA & D, allows viewers to immerse themselves in Dyer’s zoetropic artwork. A graphic on the ground represents a series of octopuses, and when a viewer walks over the graphic and turns a crank, a projection shows the viewer and the graphic rotating, creating animation.
Some of Dyer’s other interactive pieces allow viewers to spin a sculpture mounted on a wall, and the blinking of synchronized strobe light prompts viewers’ eyes to see the still images come to life. In the PCA & D exhibition, “FloraIs an example of this type of work.
More recently, Dyer has experimented with manipulating media such as wire or nails and animated them in their original shapes using the same flashing light technique as “Flora”. Some pieces from his “Looms” series, which embrace this idea, can be seen at PCA & D.
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“Traditionally in animation, you take a medium and you manipulate it, then you turn it into a movie or video, and then it goes flat, it’s presented on the intangible screen,” Dyer said. His recent projects push back this process, bringing objects to life as they are.
Other pieces by Dyer bring movement and story to moving paintings.
“I take the idea of the sequence and the fact that the painting can exist as a painting and come to life as a material object and not be converted into a screen, so you see the actual painting come to life in front of your eyes. Dyer said.
Each zoetropic artwork takes Dyer about three weeks to three months. In addition to being shown at PCA & D and Times Square, his work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art, the London International Film Festival, Ars Electronica, and the Venice and Cairo Biennials. Discover more of Dyer’s work on his site.
“Pulse and Flow: Art of the Modern Zoetrope” can be visited at PCA & D until January 12 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Masks are mandatory in the exhibit and visitors are cautioned that exhibits feature strobe lights and fast moving images.