Museum of the Moving Image is the country’s only museum dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of the moving image in all its forms. It is one-of-a-kind destination for audiences of all ages and interests, from connoisseurs of classic cinema to children and families to avid gamers. The Museum is located the state of New York in Astoria Queens and has a collection of approximately 130,000 artifacts relating to the art, history and technology of the moving image. The collection is the largest and most extensive in the United States, and is considered one of the most important collections of its kind in the world.
Soon as one steps into the building the whiteness of the interior decor makes us wonder what is behind the walls. The museum embracing a wide range of subjects, including artifacts from all stages of film creation from nineteenth century optical toys to the latest in digital art and explores every phase of the production, promotion, and exhibition of moving images. Artifacts include costumes, fan magazines, games, design materials, licensed merchandise, and technical apparatus, still photographs, marketing materials for all kinds, video and computer games, and movie furnishings.
It offers an engaging, highly interactive core exhibition, discussions with leading figures in film and television, programs of contemporary and classic films from around the world, a unique collection, stimulating changing exhibitions, inspiring educational programs for learners of all ages, and groundbreaking online projects. After everyone arrived of our ENG101 class, we got divided into small groups. My group started its 90 minutes tour on the third floor where we visited the primitive projectors and experienced the process of creating a moving image. Viktor, who was guiding our group, explained that any moving image is just an illusion.
To create a moving image we need two preconditions. We must have speed and a split second of rest which is a moment of rest is given to the eye. Viktor also pointed out that the moment of rest could be achieved in several different ways. The first three we had looked at was the Phenakistoscope, Praxinoscope and the Thaumatrope. Viktor demonstrated all three methods which was fascinating. These popular devices were inspired in the nineteenth century by Peter Mark Roget’s theory of visual persistence, which held that our eyes retain an image for a fraction of a second, ermitting a series of still images to become “fused” as a moving image.
Another way to break down movements into a series of still pictures is a so called “video flipbook”. A flipbook is the simplest way of making a sequence of still pictures appears to move. The intervals of darkness necessary for the illusion of motion are provided by the turn, or flip of each page. The nineteenth-century photographic experiments of Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne-Jules Marey broke down the movements of animals into a series of still pictures.
When displayed in rapid succession, these pictures appear to be moving, recreating the original motion that the images document. Moving further in the exhibition, we looked at Brooklyn-based artist Gregory Barsamian’s kinetic sculptures animate three-dimensional objects in real time. He called it ”Feral Fount” which is a physical representation of a dream he had in which drops of water from his kitchen faucet transformed into a bomb, and then a paper airplane before crashing into his dishpan.
The artwork is a stroboscopic zoetrope made up of series of ninety-seven small sculptures, each slightly different from the preceding one. These sculptures function in the same way as the individual drawings in the frames of an animated film. The sculptures are mounted on a rotating armature. A strobe light flashes thirteen times per second, illuminating the sculptures. Because there are intervals of darkness between the flashes, we do not see a blur as the sculptures spin by, but perceive a “moving image”.
The illusion of motion is convincing, although the flash rate of thirteen per second is slow enough for the eye to detect some flicker. Thirteen “frames” per second is just at the boundary between where we can and cannot detect individual images. There were so many more mind absorbing artifacts like the Three-Strip Technicolor Camera and Special Effects just to name a few. After Viktor described how all of these cameras worked in the past and how special effects were utilized even in today movies we continued our little tour to the second floor.
We spent half as much time on the second floor, but none the less it was all so engaging as well. Gaining insight to all the subjects the movie makers implement to make a final project is quite fascinating. Visiting the Museum of Moving Image helped us understand what it takes to make a movie from start to finish, and comprehend the difficulties of every aspect of the movie and throughout its process. To view it all on a “canvas” white walls, truly makes the Moving Image Museum a spectrum through time.