Ed van der Elsken

Ed van der Elsken (1925, Amsterdam -1990, Edam NL), was one of the Netherland’s greatest and most influential photographer and filmmaker, who expressed his meetings with people in photos, photo books and films for more than 40 years. Although his worldwide reputation rests on his unique black-and-white photography, the last thirty years of his life were mainly devoted to working in colour. 
His first book of colour photographs, EYE LOVE YOU, was published in 1977. Ed van der Elsken photographed people. Or more precisely, what people made of life and what life did to people. He travelled all over the world recording this in his photographs and, in the process, creating a unique oeuvre that continues to attract international attention even today. ‘A book about people’ is what he called his first book of colour photos, EYE LOVE YOU (1977). ‘I love you’ but also ‘My eye loves you’. Love, life and death play key roles. Looking and being looked at. Van der Elsken’s themes are the sexual interplay and tension between men and women, the freedom and happiness of young people setting out to explore the world, and the experience of destitution in disillusioned old age. He was one of the first photojournalists in the Netherlands whole-heartedly to embrace colour photography. Van der Elsken had already used colour (slide) film in the fifties, when he was working on his pioneering photobooks Een liefdesgeschiedenis in Saint Germain des Prés (1956) and Sweet Life (1966), although both were eventually published entirely in black-and-white. 



In 1950 Ed van der Elsken  founded “kindred spirits” in a group of dropouts in the St. Germain des Prés (Paris) neighborhood. In a private diary he kept photographic “notes” about their activities, which he was allowed to photograph undisturbed. It is evident that he was primarily fascinated by the beautiful redhead Vali Myers. In 1953 he met Edward Steichen, who pointed out that his photographs had a narrative structure and advised him to create photography book that tells a story. Supported by his wife at the time, the Hungarian Ata Kando, van der Elsken organized his contact sheets, put together the first of a total of three dummies and started a joint project with the graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer. In 1956 the publisher De Bezige Bij released „Love on the Left Bank“. Elsken‘s pictures were put together to form the story of the unrequited love of the protagonist Manuel for Ann alias Vali Myers. It is fictional and takes place over a period of months, during which he followed a pair of lovers with his camera and captured a harsh yet tender love story in the working class neighborhood of St. Germain des Prés. The photography book that resulted is not only regarded as the summit of his work but is also internationally recognized as one of the most extraordinary photography books of the 20th century, as it is the first one using the format of a photo novel.







Ed van der Elsken's work remains to be widely shown at contemporary art museums throughout the world. Recent solo- and group shows were held at the Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (2015), Museum Boerhaave, Leiden (2014), Stadsarchief Amsterdam(2014), Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2010), Foam, Amsterdam (2005), The Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (2003), The Palazzina di Giardini, Modena (2002) and many others.

Joseph Plateau - Phenakistoscope

In 1832, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau invented the phenakistoscope, or 'spindle viewer' as a toy for his sons. The optical toy - phenakistoscope, was an early animation device that used the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.  It was also invented independently in the same year by Simon von Stampfer of Vienna, Austria, who called his invention a stroboscope.  Plateau's inspiration had come primarily from the work of Michael Faraday and Peter Mark Roget. Faraday had invented a device he called "Faraday's Wheel," that consisted of two discs that spun in opposite directions from each other.  From this, Plateau took another step, adapting Faraday's wheel into a toy he later named the phenakistoscope.  The phenakistoscope uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion.  Although this principle had been recognized by the Greek mathematician Euclid and later in experiments by Newton, it was not until 1829 that this principle became firmly established by Joseph Plateau. 
The phenakistoscope consisted of two discs mounted on the same axis.  The first disc had slots around the edge, and the second contained drawings of successive action, drawn around the disc in concentric circles.  Unlike Faraday's Wheel, whose pair of discs spun in opposite directions, a phenakistoscope's discs spin together in the same direction.  When viewed in a mirror through the first disc's slots, the pictures on the second disc will appear to move.
The phenakistoscope uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion.  Although this principle had been recognized by the Greek mathematician Euclid and later in experiments by Newton, it was not until 1829 that this principle became firmly established by Joseph Plateau. 
The phenakistoscope consisted of two discs mounted on the same axis.  The first disc had slots around the edge, and the second contained drawings of successive action, drawn around the disc in concentric circles.  Unlike Faraday's Wheel, whose pair of discs spun in opposite directions, a phenakistoscope's discs spin together in the same direction.  When viewed in a mirror through the first disc's slots, the pictures on the second disc will appear to move.  
The phenakistoscope was also referred to as the Phantasmascope and Fantoscope and was ultimately replaced by William George Horner's  Zoetrope. 
A zoetrope is different because the images are fitted inside a spinning wheel and users peer through the slits in the side of the toy. This means more than one person can see the moving images for various angles. 
Although the toy was invented before Queen Victoria took to the throne, it became popular during her reign.

A later, handheld version of Plateau's design was created in which the discs were separated, thus removing the need for a mirror. 
Examples of scenes, depicted on the original phenakistoscope, include a couple dancing and horses jumping over fences. Others show jesters performing star jumps as red and yellow birds fly near their heads, frogs hopping around a circle of grass blowing in the wind, and magpies bouncing on top of people's heads as the people are showing eating small blue balls.
There are also kaleidoscopic phenakistoscopes that use geometric shapes to create a hypnotic effect, and more surreal images of men climbing ladders into the mouth of the Moon, or diving into the mouths of lions. 













The digital versions of these stunning animation are created by American photographer Richard Balzer