Andrew John Milne’s Modern Praxinioscope
The praxinoscope of the late 1800’s is an archaic example of early motion graphics. Made by placing two cylinders inside of each other— the outer one having a succession of still images, and the inner circle containing mirrors—when spun, an illusion of movement was created by the images projection onto the inner mirrors and by our own retinal persistence of vision.
Andrew John Milne’s reinvented Praxinoscope is a swirling mass of lights and wood suspended from the ceiling. His piece, entitled, Apparatus 9, is a bulbous cylindrical orb composed of a wooden checkerboard pattern of square panels and windows, paper, mirrors, lights, and a motor. Its etherial quality is only reinforced by its “autonomous” motorized movement.
When gazing inside Apparatus 9, one first sees only the wooden skeletal framework of the piece as it flickers past. With a closer inspection into the windows, the viewer is able to see a ghostly image of a walking nude female. The image is projected along a vertical axis as well, which gives the appearance of holography and perspective.
What makes this piece effective is the apparent “wow” factor. Apparatus is a giant spinning orb, that basically begs to be looked at and looked into. There is also a sense of wonder that comes from looking into this archaic object: This work is strictly analog, despite the digital-like precision of the moving images, which shows off a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. My only criticism is that I wish that the entire piece was on a larger scale, although it’s size perhaps adds to the sense of intimacy with the viewer.
The concept behind Apparatus is an exploration of autonomous technology and how we relate to it, especially regarding digital technology. In this analog piece, we are given a view of an almost Digital view of a the moving figure, and although the viewer perceives it as a seamless, there is a a flicker of malfunction which creates an Uncanny Valley. The figure is naked and idyllic like Eve in the garden of Eden, but she looks robotic and detached. Milne is trying to make a statement on digital technology. IN a review of Milne’s Apparatus, Tom Kohut writes, “ruination is encoded in the apparatus, that the dematerialization….in the present digital situation leads inexorably to disappearance.”
Apparatus 9 in motion:
All images are taken from http://andrewjohnmilne.com/apparatus/