“There was a period, the last seventy five years of the 19th century, when scientific experimentation based on the phenomenon of ‘the persistence of vision’ in which the brain retains the impression of an object for a fraction of a second after its disappearance creating the possibility of apparent motion.”
“It was a different time, but the same challenge: How do you make things move?” (Richard “Dick” Balzer)
Forty years ago, Dick Balzer saw his very first magic lantern – an early image projector invented in the 1600s. This encounter would prove to be the start of an intense preoccupation with early animation technology.
Following this discovery, Balzer began collecting magic lanterns and other optical toys, eventually amassing thousands of illustrations and machines that can now be found at his Boston-area home. His collection includes literature concerning the early animation machinery, as well as 150-year-old optical toys like henakistiscopes, zoetropes, praxinoscopes, and other “scopes” and “tropes” derived from the Greek words for “viewer.
Balzer says, “I mean, these are just extraordinary feats of animation that took place more than 150 years ago. And if you’re just holding on to them, I think you should share them with other people.” (via the verge and wired)
Five years ago, Balzer began digitizing his collection with the help of LA-based animator, Brian Duffy. Thus far, Balzer and Duffy have digitized only a fraction of the collection due to the trial-and-error process involved in getting the speed of each animation just right.
See The Richard Balzer Collection on Tumblr.