The Michael Jackson phenakistiscope

The Michael Jackson phenakistiscopeKelly Coats was playing with an old optical concept when she made this artwork called "Epic Thriller."

This phenakistiscope disc contained an image of Michael morphing through his various looks.

What’s a phenakistiscope?

(Also spelled phenakistoscope.)

A phenakistiscope was an early technology that created the illusion of movement through persistence of vision.

The device was invented in 1832 by Joseph Plateau.

It was made of a round cardboard disc whose center was attached to a stick or spindle so the disc could spin. On one side of the disc artwork was printed. This artwork was made up of images which were slightly different from each other, such as boxers boxing, or dancers dancing.

The other side of the disc was black. The disc had thin slits cut into it. To operate it, you held the disc up by the spindle with the artwork facing a mirror, and looked through the slits at the mirror. When you spun the disc, you would see the illusion that the artwork was moving.

If you go to Ms. Coat’s site, you will see a moving image of her work, called Epic Thriller. 

– Artist Kelly Coats>>
Science Museum, Museum voor de Geschiedenis van de Wetenschappen, on the phenakistiscope>>

– From Thomas Weynant’s page of Early Visual Media>>

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