Exhibition, Technical Museum Dresden, April 18 to October 12, 2014
n 1832, the world of animation was still a disc. Pictures and ornaments were drawn on card as a moving sequence. If the viewer turned the disc, the rotating images appeared to move. As a newly discovered optical principle it was fairly modest and the name of the new medium equally lacking in charm: the phenakistiscope. However, the fascination for the imaginary worlds being brought to life quickly led to names that aroused greater curiosity. The 'magic wheel' showed grotesque toad-spitting faces, artistic wonders, beating hearts, comic scenes and psychedelic patterns. The makers of such discs operated in a sphere between science, art and entertainment. The discs were a form of home cinema to hold in your hand, as affordable to buy as a DVD today and ultimately the most direct precursor of animated film.
The magic wheel is currently experiencing an astonishing renaissance. Artists such as Reuben Sutherland, Theodore Ushev and Clemens Kogler are utilising the historic medium for their short films, music videos and live performances. The closeness to modern music culture is based, among other factors, on two limitations of the magic wheel: a very limited number of images (6 to 32) and the fact that the first and last image of the sequence are identical in order to join the beginning and end of a scene together. Stories are told in short loops - the basic building block of pop music with its repetitions in beat and tone. Additionally discs are able today to reproduce sounds as well as moving pictures. Picture discs and turntables provide the groove and turn the magic wheel for the Animation-disc-o.
For further reading, please visit the DIAF website.