September 15, 2009

Magic Lanterns and other Optical Toys Richard Balzer's collection of pre-cinema visual entertainment devices.

See also: Optical Toys Exhibit at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and Early Visual Media via

  • What fun! Great post. It's good to remember what lengths folks were willing to go to for visual entertainment back in the pre-electronics age. Loved the little flash demos! Now that everyone has a 0.05 second attention span, it's hard to imagine anyone being really amused by looking at a bird "magically" appearing inside a cage, over and over again. But apparently they were... *resumes watching videos on iPod*
  • These peep shows don't show anything sexy. But as a very young child, I recall seeing a nude girl with fans at a carnival peep show one time. The show was actuated in a box by a crank which riffled some glossy photos for my under aged pleasure. How things have changed! (heh)
  • Islander, this is a GREAT post!! AAAAA+++ Actually, Kinnakeet, if you can get the little buggers to shut off the electronic gadgets, they can be fascinated by what they are able to make and do. Lil'uns can easily make flip books, three-way pictures, spin-disks, Jacob's ladders, and peep shows. The beauty of the intarwebbs is its use as a resource for all kinds of optical projects. The Miraaaage The Make Movies blog has stuff that even a 6-7 yo can make. More Kids can even make their own simple box cameras. Wheee, fun with light and motion. We made our own handshadow toys last weekend by tracing and cut out. Kept the little buggers occupied for several hours making and then playing quietly with a flashlight in bed after. I love the names of the "-opes": chromatrope, praxinoscope, phenaksitoscope, thaumatrope, phantascope, zootrope, taleidoscope, kaleidoscope, periscope, taumatrope, phenakistoscope, zoetrope, pseudoscope, kinetoscope, praxinoscope, choreutoscope, kaleidoscope, anorthoscope, bioscope, chromotrope, mutoscope, choreutoscope. Devices of Wonder!! Remember, these aren't just toys, they are distortions of the fundamental reality. Everybody needs to find a kid, pick a project, and make an "-ope" this weekend!
  • Neat post, islander. I wonder, are the 'Spooner Views' created by the same Rev. Spooner that gave us spoonerisms?
  • Here's a zoetrope on top of a playing record.
  • So true, BlueHorse. Such lovely links! Yippee! I think it best not to let age get in the way of a happy childhood.
  • There is joy in that!