Kelly Egan, Ponytrope (2014)


My brother forwarded me this Make story about Kelly Egan’s Muybridge-inspired zoetrope that animates a series of 12 horses with an LED strobe. Egan used Muybridge’s own photographs as references for modeling the horses (which he did on Blender). He generously documented his process on his website and also shared all the models on Thingiverse. I’m always so delighted by instances when old and new media collide like this, and it’s even neaterr that Egan so explicitly engages with Muybridge in both his subject matter and documentation.

Kelly Egan, Ponytrope (2014)

New View-Master!

Huge news this week as Mattel and Google announced a partnership for a new virtual reality View-Master. Expected next fall, the new View-Master viewer will turn the user’s smartphone into a VR device, like an enhanced Google cardboard. The app will work with companion “experience reels” featuring virtual tours that offer 360 and lots of other supplemental information. This partnership and product revamp represents an interesting shift in the View-Master’s legacy, after the company announced that it would stop production of scenic picture reels in 2009 (while continuing reel production for character- and entertainment-based subjects). Already the new View-Master is being framed as an educational device, facilitating new kinds of interactive experiences and a distinct sense of immersion. More around the web from The Verge, CNET, 9to5Mac, and Bloomberg. I’m excited to try this out!

Also, remember Hasbro’s attempt at a similar viewer a few years ago?

New View-Master!

John Edmark’s Fibonacci-sequence zoetropes


These beautiful 3D printed zoetropes have been all over for the past few weeks. The videos are really remarkable because unlike so many strobe-shuttered zoetropes that appear as shuddering, spinning half-visible forms due to improper synching of the camera’s shutter, these gems are perfectly in sync, resulting in smooth, seamless motion. Unlike other zoetrope sculptures that have very clear image sequences (a series of objects in slightly different poses or attitudes), these appear as single objects that you wouldn’t necessarily think could be animated so smoothly. They rely upon the “golden angle” (137.5º) spinning at 550 rpm, captured at 24 fps with a shutter speed of 1/4000 a second to achieve the attractive effect. Edmark (a design professor at Stanford) has also made an instructables page for those who want to build their own, and has put the  the forms are available on Shapeways print-on-demand, as well. More on the web here and here. These definitely up the game for how this kind of work is produced and captured for viewing on the web.

John Edmark’s Fibonacci-sequence zoetropes

Post human panel at Pratt Upload


Earlier in October I was invited to speak on a panel on “the post human” at the Upload conference at Pratt. The panel was really great and featured some artists talking about their fascinating work that engages with the theme of the post human (or the cyborg) in various ways. Here’s a link to the list of panels with everyone’s info, and the panel was also written up in Art F City . I was worried I’d be a bit out of place (as the only non-arts-practitioner on the panel) but I think there were some connecting threads across the talks. I spoke about some ongoing research I’m doing on augmented reality Band-Aids for kids: specifically, how do “smart” adhesive bandages harness the capability of new media to distract kids (from pain) and how/why does the experience of pain justify or recuperate distraction as a state (when it is typically characterized as a “problem” of new media). It’s weird to think of Band-Aids as “media,” and the panel was a great opportunity to continue working through some of the peculiarities of considering them as such.

Post human panel at Pratt Upload

NECS 2014: Animate Toys as Engines of Imagination

NECS_image This year I presented at the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies’ annual conference in Milan. I’d never been to NECS (or to Milan, for that matter!) and it was a great trip. Our panel was called “Playing with Media: the Challenge of Children’s Unproductive Creativity” and featured a lot of exciting work (including Kinderspiel, a new project about kids as media archaeologists). I presented new work I’m doing on talking dolls. For this paper, I looked at a few historical and contemporary examples (including some of their patents and promotional materials). I was curious both about the changing technologies that have animated dolls (and given them a “voice”) in various contexts, as well as analyzing the [often negative] responses to talking dolls in popular culture. It was productive and fun to present this project (in its development) within the context of such a great panel. Other conference highlights included fascinating keynotes by Jason Mittell (on TV authorship) and Janet Wasko (on Disney).

NECS 2014: Animate Toys as Engines of Imagination