The concrete zoetrope: engaging students in pre-cinema with an eye towards the future

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Today’s students and practitioners of media have a growing and ever-changing number of options and technologies for applying design principles. From mobile devices to virtual reality, digital platforms and modes of production have changed the marketplace and continue to challenge both students and teachers alike to become adaptive learners and flexible thinkers. The ubiquity of digital screens and mediated space has, to some degree, rendered the formal elements of moving images less visible, if not invisible, and yet, designing to these underlying principles has driven the development of new technologies in cinema, virtual and augmented reality, social media, journalism, and games for centuries. Therefore, it may be useful to re-examine these underlying principles and formal elements of the moving image with students to gain a better understanding of the perceptual conditions whereby such experiences can be understood and crafted into new technologies and platforms. This article examines the formal elements of the moving image with an eye towards teaching practices and the development of future applications by tracing the experiments and discoveries of scientists, philosophers, artists, and thinkers throughout history who have endeavoured to discover and advance moving image technologies. By excavating early animation and cinematic devices such as the zoetrope and praxinoscope and examining their roots in physiology, medicine and mathematics as well as entertainment, students can develop a broader understanding of the current states of existing and emerging technologies, envision new applications for the movement-illusion, and re-establish an understanding of animation and the moving image as a fundamentally interdisciplinary endeavour.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)44-57
Number of pages14
JournalEarly Popular Visual Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History


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