Thursday, December 8, 2016

Optical Box (1750-1790)

This optical box from the Museum of Cinema in Catalonia dates from the late 18th century. (Link to YouTube video).  

It had multiple functions: You could use it as a camera obscura for drawing. Besides this, it could be folded up into the shape of a book and easily transported.

Or it could be set up like for viewing theatrical dioramas, kind of an ancestor of Disney's multiplane camera.


Roberto Quintana said...

Wow! This is very cool. Clement would have a lot of fun with this!
This reminds me of an old ‘Lucy-graph’ I used to have, very similar, but it projected a 3d object in the box up onto a sheet of glass for tracing. If that Lucy (made around 1940’s) was designed as well as this optical box (and could double as a Camera Obscura) I might have kept the old dinosaur around. -RQ

Walter Wick said...
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WW said...

I've seen the folding camera-in-book design before (Joshua Reynolds had one), if not one that doubled as a scenographic viewer, but it's nice to see one being unfolded as we see in the video. It would appear to be an enligenment era "amusement" more than a serous artist's tool. The aperture they show is way too small for practical viewing of a projection and the schematic drawing they show is from the 19th century (French), and shows a meniscus lens (convex on one side, and concave on the other), which was a important nineteenth century improvement that gave better edge to edge focus, a problem that plagued previous camera obscuras.