A tad bit headache inducing, but really fun at the same time…
Wonder how folks were entertaining themselves before the dawn of the animated GIF? In 1861, it was with stereograms, a pair of still photographs of an identical subject, shot from slightly different angles to mimic the vantage point of the left and right eye. Viewed through a stereoscope, the final image appeared in 3D. A discovery made by NYPL patron, Joshua Heineman unearthed that these stereographs could be converted into a modern, digital form of entertainment à la the GIF.
Four years ago, during his final year in college, Heineman uncovered the 19th century GIF. He explains:
One evening in my final year of college, I was downloading digital snapshots to my laptop when I got a fleeting sense of 3D as the preview screen flicked quickly between two similar shots. I located the individual photos and flipped back and forth between them continually. The parallax effect of minor changes between the two perspectives created a sustained sense of dimension that approximated the effect of stereo viewing. When I realized how the effect was working, I set about discovering if I could capture the same illusion by layering both sides of an old stereograph in Photoshop and displaying the result as an animated gif. The result was more jarring and more shallow than through a stereoscope but no less magic.
The resulting images culminated in the Reaching For The Out Of Reach art project for Heineman’s blog. The NYPL Labs embraced the idea, and partnered with Heineman to create the Stereogranimator, an interface that allows you to make your own GIFS and 3D anaglyphs from the Library’s collection of 40,000 digitized stereographs. The appeal of the project is its ability to meld the past and present in a contemporary way, by retaining the original spirit of the stereogram–because after all that format was as revolutionary for the still image as GIFs are today.
Please visit Stereogranimator to see more.