Figure 1.12

Moving Images from the Phasmatrope

Images like those on the left are sometimes called “phase photographs” because each picture captures a discrete phase of a complex action. The dancers pose—that is, hold a certain position—for each carefully timed camera exposure. Then they assume a slightly changed pose for the next exposure, and so on. The action, therefore, is literally discontinuous, and the illusion of movement is manufactured by the technical process of projection. By contrast, the motion picture records the movement of subjects while they are engaged in real, continuous action. This strip, by the way, represents the only surviving print of a phasmatrope subject. On the right is a reconstruction of a vintage phasmatrope. Around the disk, 16 photographic images are fixed over apertures and exposed intermittently as the disk turns at a motor-controlled rate of about 5 times per second. The original phasmatrope was hand-cranked and lit by a kerosene lamp.

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