Zoetrope, 1886.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

Zoetrope, 1886.

© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


This model was made by the French physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904), using solid figures modelled after photographs, to reproduce the flight of birds. Marey was a pioneer in the use of photography to record and analyse movement. The concept of the Zoetrope was first suggested in 1833 by the Austrian scientist Simon Stamfer (1792-1864), but it was not commercially exploited until 1867. It was a development of the Phenakistoscope (where a single visitor viewed images on a spinning disc in a mirror through slits in the disc). With the Zoetrope several viewers could look through slits in the drum simultaneously to see the drawings (or, in this case, solid figures) move. It became a popular optical toy.

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