Media Archaeology, Dr. Patrick Ellis

English 1102, Optical Toys, Now and Then.

Professor: Patrick Ellis
Spring 2018

Project Description:

An Optical Renaissance at Georgia Tech

In a class on “Media Archaeology” taught by Dr. Patrick Ellis, this project inspired students to reinvent the optical toy. After studying the history of such devices in class, and examining them through the Georgia Tech Library Archives, students made their own optical toys .

 

From A to Z: anamorphoses, kaleidoscopes , moving panoramas, stereocards, zoetropes- and many other toys that required the coinage of new names. This exhibit displays a sample of the work created in this class.

 

 

 

In this class students discussed the moving panorama, the stereoscope, the zoetrope, and other optical toys.  For this assignment,students had the opportunity to update or reinvent the optical toy and create their own.

Options presented to the students:
  1. Propose an idea of your own devising (Group or individual)
    We have excellent resources here, and you each arrive in this class with your own set of skills. Having studied the principles of optical toys, is there a way that you can employ these ideas using new technology? A simple app? A 3D printed object? A laser-cut device? You would likely use the Invention Studio for this project.
  2. Produce stereoscopic photographs (Group only)
    With assistance from Alison Valk at the Multimedia Lab, students in groups can learn how to shoot digital images, manipulate them in Photoshop, and finally print them on a specialized printer for ultimate use in a vintage stereoscope. The topic of your stereoscopic series should relate to the class, and requires approval before proceeding. (If you wish, you may pursue without preapproval the provided topic of “Elevated Views of Atlanta.” Feel free to zoom in on Georgia Tech as your principle location.) Your photo series should include at least eight stereoscopic cards, with captions.
  3. Make a moving panorama/crankie (Group only)
    With assistance from Alison Valk at the Multimedia Lab, students in groups can assemble and produce their own moving photographic panorama. We have already purchased a crankie kit, so you need not focus on the hardware; rather, you will shoot images, join them together in Photoshop, and print them in long format for use on the rollers of the crankie. The topic of your moving panorama should relate to the class and requires preapproval before proceeding. (If you wish, you may pursue without preapproval the provided topic of “Elevated Views of Atlanta.” Feel free to zoom in on Georgia Tech as your principle location.)
  4. Produce a 3D-printed zoetrope (Group only)
    The 3D printer has led to a boom of reinvented zoetropes. Groups will use the resources of the Invention Studio (which provides printers and filament) to design and print their own zoetropes, cast in plastic. Note that this option is limited to those with some existing experience with 3D printing or CAD software.
  5. Produce a cardboard GIF zoetrope (Individual only)
    The zoetrope produces a looped sequence, not unlike a GIF. Choose a (tasteful!) contemporary GIF, print it out in sequential frames, and animate it using a zoetrope of your own making. Improve upon a simple zoetrope production guide online, such as this one (there are many), and complete this project individually.
Photo Essay
Students also submitted a photo-essay documenting their project’s construction . Students reflected on the history of the devices, how that informed the work; the concepts that underpin the design, and how their object was made ; any challenges  encountered, and how they overcame them;
 
Example Photo Essay
 
 

Technology 

Software options : 

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • CAD