Boston Art Commission

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Click on thumbnails to view additional images of this piece:
  • zoetrope detail
  • 550 Zoetrape
  • zoe detail2

Zoetrope

Artist:

John Powell

Location:

Brighton, Guest St.  

Location

Brighton, Guest St.
United States
42° 21' 27.4464" N, 71° 8' 47.616" W

Neighborhood:

Brighton

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

2001

Medium:

Various

Collection:

City of Boston

Funders:

Description:

The three-dimensional equivalent of a flipbook, a zoetrope is a cylindrical device that makes still images appear to be moving. Users spin the zoetrope, then peer into slits cut in its side to see pictures drawn on the inside spring to life.  When planning this work, local artist John Powell researched the history of Brighton to come up with a few images that he thought would tie this contemporary industrial site to the area’s past. Each of the plaza’s eight zoetropes feature a different image, including fish, a ship, and a horse-drawn carriage. Whether or not viewers can see these images move, however, depends on the force of the wind, which is needed to spin the cylinders. This work, with its emphasis on optical illusion, demonstrates Powell’s ongoing interest in exploring the many functions and meanings of light.

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