Charon (Burning Man 2011, photo by Michael Holden) and Deeper (Burning Man 2004) by Peter Hudson.
I love to see animation off screen! Since 2002, Peter Hudson has been making gigantic, extraordinary zoetropes that he presents at Burning Man. This year he is creating a new sculpture, but he will not describe Eternal Return, except to say that "The concept of eternal return speculates that the universe has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form, an infinite number of times across infinite time and/or infinite space. Rather than portray Sisyphean repetitive never-ending punishment, Eternal Return will celebrate the joy and ecstasy of life, not just repeated, but begun anew."
Hudson's most recent piece, Charon (2011, above left), portrayed the Greek myth of the crossing of the River Styx, using animated, rowing, life sized skeletons. It took "nearly 100 volunteers working for nine months" to complete Charon. Hudson was often at the Burning Man site and would answer questions and describe the many elements of the elegant piece, including the ancestors bones that were nearly hidden at the base of the huge disk.
All of Hudson's zoetrope sculptures are rotated by human power. Homouroboros (2007, above), was a 24 foot tall tree with apes swinging around the branches, eating serpents bearing apples. It was powered by people on stationary bicycles while Charon was powered by groups of people pulling ropes. To view Homouroboros, you had to look through glasses that were hanging on chains. Charon used a strobe light which provided the necessary shutter effect to create the illusion of motion.
The zoetrope, a device that produces the illusion of motion from a rapid succession of static pictures, was invented in China around 180 AD by Ting Huan. It is a cylinder with vertical slits in the sides and a strip of sequenced images placed on the interior of the drum. As the cylinder spins, you look through the slits and see the pictures in rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.
Huan's invention was called chao hua chich kuan, the pipe which makes fantasies appear. What an excellent name. The zoetrope was also invented in 1833 by British mathematician William George Horner. He called it the "daedalum" but the popular name became "wheel of the devil". Later, William F. Lincoln (USA) named it the "zoetrope", meaning "wheel of life".
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"It’s playful, witty, soothing and charming." -Shawn Levy, The Oregonian (link to article)
Missed Aches (3'53") A witty commentary on ignorance, idiocy and our over-reliance on spell check, written and narrated by slam poet Taylor Mali. With wonderful sound and music by Normand Roger and Pierre Yves Drapeau and Denis Chartrand.
Eye Liner (3'53") Luminescent abstract animation with a splendid soundtrack by Seth Norman. "Watching Eye Liner is like being on some wonderful drug that you don't have to come down from when the film is over." -Chel White
Choking Hazard (1'30") Where does our recycled plastic go? Made for Create Plenty, Scrap and the Surfrider Foundation.