The thaumatrope or "wonder turner" is considered to be the first form of animation. The optical device consists of two images, one on each side of a card. By rotating the card with string, the viewer superimposes the two images into a single picture.
See the Reframing Photography book for more information about materials, image shape and size, image design, and construction of thaumatopes. Below are examples of artists' photographic thaumatropes in still and video.
Ashley Elander, Destruction Series, 2009. Thaumatropes, watercolor.
Allison Knoll, Thinking outside the box
In the following series of thaumatropes, Allison Knoll illustrates and animates common expressions. Each video begins by showing the front of the card, spins to create the illusion, ends with the back of the card, and concludes with the title of the illustrated idiom. #1 involves a station-wagon and some Planters; #2, a woman and some snack food; #3, a baseball player and the alphabet; and #4, a camera and its story.
Allison Knoll, Thinking Outside the Box series. 4 thaumatropes. Black-and-white photographs. 2011.
andrew vanwambeke, skotography
In the following series of thaumatropes, Andrew Vanwambeke animates spiritual entities within photographic images. In the tradition of William H. Mumler, Vanwambeke receives spirits into the material world. Each video begins by showing the front of the card, spins to create the illusion, and ends with the back image.
Andrew Vanwambeke, Skotography series. 3 thaumatropes. color photographs. 2011.
Hannah Beckey, Minnie Mutation
In this series of thaumatropes, Hannah Beckey presents a cast of characters with clothing inspired by their face, or vice versa. Each video begins by showing the front of the card, spins to create the illusion, and ends with the back image.
Hannah Beckey, Minnie Mutation series. 3 thaumatropes. color photographs. 2011.