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Scan the Man: Scanimation Book Event on June 14
June 10, 2008

Gallop Book Cover

Gallop! A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Butler Seder

Gallop! A Scanimation Picture Book is one of those books I bought for a child in my life, but was reluctant to hand it over when the fateful day came. The book mesmerized me from the start. The minute I picked it up in the museum shop, I was hooked. When I brought it back to the office, a few people gathered around to watch me turn the pages, and in turn, watch the animals move, glide, hop, and gallop across the pages of this imaginative book. The author, Rufus Butler Seder, will be making a presentation he's calling Adventures in Optical Motion at SAAM on Saturday, June 14. Eye Level had a chance to speak to the author, who lives in the Boston area.

Eye Level: How did you come up with the idea for Gallop? What inspired you?

Rufus Butler Seder: I've been doing stuff related to this for almost eighteen years. Gallop is my first book. Previously, I created three thirty-foot glass and hand-cast murals for Union Station. The book was my attempt to do something a bit more affordable. I realized that I could go back a step to an earlier stage and create animation using a field of black stripes on acetate. A simple pull tab reveals the horse in one position, then the next.

EL: Eadweard Muybridge, known for his "stop action" images, seems to play a role in your work.

RBS: Yes, that is his horse, based on his famous studies in Palo Alto in 1886. There's not a person working in moving images today who has not drawn on Muybridge. The images repeat themselves over and over. The cat is Muybridge's as well.

EL: I'm looking forward to Saturday's program. Can you tell us a little about what you have planned?

RBS: I'm going to briefly discuss the history of motion and optical toys going all the way back to zoetropes, from around 1850. Some of these are still around. Artists are breaking new ground in this--there are subway zoetropes. Nobody has really abandoned these. My presentation will take us from zoetropes all the way to the present. Even though my book is in some ways primitive as compared to video, people are still finding it new.

EL: How do you work?

RBS: I go out in the field and I'll videotape the dog running. Then I'll go home and store the animation frames in my computer, then select those frames that look best. I'll rework it then test the animation until I really get something that has the look I want. I then scramble it up . . . and lo and behold!

EL: Can you give us a scoop and tell us what's next?

RBS: Waddle is volume two, and it will come out this October. I can't say too much about it. One animal is an ant; that's all I can say at this point.

EL: We'll take it. Thank you!

Posted by Howard on June 10, 2008 in Lectures on American Art


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