Praxinoskop

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Praxinoskop (2013) is a second variation in which Oppl addresses the rip between media and production technology realities and the correlation between illusion and technology, respectively. Here, similar to Passage, Oppl chooses a path that reveals only one part of his otherwise mostly bipolar video installations and unlike Passage prioritises the apparatus over the video image. Oppl's Praxinoskop is a sculpture that shows a film without using a transmitting device such as a camera, a screen or a projection. The sculpture goes back to the early history of cinema. The praxinoscope, also called magic drum, is a kinetic device developed in 1877 by Émile Reynaud after George Horner invention of the zoetrope in 1833. Oppl's version is a revolving, polygonal-shaped black drum, an oversized gyroscope of sorts, which features a revolving duct in its upper part. The outer side of the duct has a sequence of images, the inner side a mirror that reflects the images for the viewer. Due to the fast rotation of the drum a sequence of images is collected in the mirror which is perceived as related to each other. This effect is brought about by the persistence of vision on the eye's retina. In his film sculpture, which is both a productive and presentative device, Oppl refers not only to early cinematography but also the early history of film. The animation shown in Praxinoskop is a short, abstract film in which a white surface grows out of a black background. The squares execute a growth movement and seem to whirl towards the viewer, which creates the impression that the space is moving. The short film which lasts just as long as a single rotation of the drum recalls Hans Richter's abstract films, especially Rhythmus 21 (1921) in which space and depth are created by white and black squares and rectangles moving against each other. Here, the rip in the fabric of perception reliabilities, arises out of the use of an essentially obsolete technique in contemporary creative practice because it is the only way to detach the perception of films from the devices to which it is bound today without exception. As an oppositional counterpart it refers to the mutual dependency between transmission technology and cinema as we know it.

Jürgen Tabor

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