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Monday, March 25, 2013

Erkki Huhtamo's Moving Media Archaeology

I can remember as a child watching 42nd Street with my father and dancing around to Meet Me In St Louis. I can also remember those nutty Alfalfa kids, Shirley Temple, and those silent movies of the 20's, where strings of film would be strung together to create these moving images, that even today, surprise us by their innovative nature, and comical ambiance.

This is just what Erkki Huhtamo's Moving Media Archaeology's is about. Images on paper strips blur into moving sequences as DESMA Professor Erkki Huhtamo spins a zoetrope from 1870 and peeks through the slits on the side of the metal wheel.

This device is just one of thousands that make up Professor Huhtamo's collection of antique optical viewing devices. From myriopticons to magic lanterns, Professor Huhtamo's collection tells the story of media culture and preserves the history of the moving image.

Erkki Huhtamo's collection extends back more than 800 years ago, and covers all of the early devices used before silect cinema. He first started buying his trinkets from flea markets and antique markets, and he often frequented film festivals, bringing back heavy packs of film history.

These are just some of Erkki Huhtamo's favorite media archaeology contraptions........


This device is dated to around 1870, the time when these devices were first introduced to the market. A strip of paper with an image was placed inside and then you would spin the drum. You would watch through the slits and the image would appear to be moving.


This device is from 1897 and it allowed people to really get an good idea about how movie images could be transported to a smaller screen. This device respresents small beginnings for peak media.


The concept for the Kinetoscope was first described in 1888 by Thomas Edison, however the device was further developed by his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson between 1889 and 1892. This Kinetoscope was created by Edison in 1903. What's special about this device is that it's hand cracked. The movie starts when you turn the handle.

Erkki Huhtamo is making sure that we don't lose track of these unique historical documents by storing them properly. He's also encouraging students at UCLA to question their relationships with their devices and asking why they were constructed in this way to begin with.


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