Most of the children have now completed their Thaumatrope drawings. These drawings are based on a template sheet that I made. This uses a branch on one side, inspired by Joel M.’s thaumatrope discussed here in an earlier post. The children were asked to draw a winged creature on the other circle, and they could develop the branch or winged creature as they wished. They also have a second pair of circles if they wish to make a second Thaumatrope, with whatever content they desire. The variety of ‘winged creatures’ is pretty impressive, ranging from birds to insects, planes and more creative, imaginative creatures… even some that could be Forest Creatures like the assemblage they are currently animating. The results are shown below. I will update this post with the remaining students’ images who haven’t done theirs yet, over the next couple of weeks.
Over the coming weeks they will be cutting out the circles and gluing them onto the sticks to make the completed Thaumatropes. For sticks we will be using unsharpened, round pencils…
I would like to take a moment to draw a few threads together. Firstly however, I’ll relate a personal experience:
Many years ago a little boy was drawing the most beautiful, elaborate birds. They had wings, eyes, tails, legs, feathers in a range of colours. They were very detailed and considered images that involved the act of looking at birds and recording their features. Then one day the drawings stopped. Instead the boy was drawing an icon of a bird: a big letter ‘M’ for wings with a triangle for a beak. His mother was devastated. What had happened? It turns out someone at school had told him that his (original) birds did not look like birds, and showed him how to draw them the “right” way. It was a tragedy! The bird drawings were reduced to symbols, a means of communicating the concept of a bird rather than rich, creative explorations that involved looking and learning from was observed. I don’t know if she (the mother) ever got that door open again…
I feel very strongly that people – children especially – should be encouraged towards creative exploration. And I think that acknowledging there are many ways of seeing plays a role in this (such as our different points of view when taking the photos that make up our collaborative perspective maps). Another very tangible aspect to this position is the way the brain works, theory which informed our earlier mirror-symmetry drawing exercises. These ideas relate to one-another as follows:
Today I started working individually with the children. I am helping them to complete their ”forest creature” by attaching the finished wings to the body. We then animate these wings using stop motion techniques. The creatures are animated against a light table.
We only got through about 6 people today. The process will be ongoing over the next few sessions.
Before I started working with them to animate these creatures, I reminded them about the process. (I’d given an overview last week). I also demonstrated the principle of persistence of vision. This enables us to perceive a series of changing things as moving, or as constituting some sort of illusion. It is achieved through the rapid succession of images, each of which persists as something called an ”afterimage” (which seems to stay on your eyes like an image of a bright light remains on your retina after you close your eyes). In this way a ‘blend’ occurs with the next image. A sustained, continuous illusion of an object that seems to move or of a bird that seems to be sitting on a branch (below) can be created in this way.
I demonstrated this by showing them the Thaumatrope and providing them with simple materials to make one. They will be able to continue working on their Thaumatropes over the next few sessions, individually. Its a fun exercise…
There are many examples of Thaumatropes available online. I find the Bird Thaumatrope designed by Joel M quite beautiful. It can be downloaded here for printing out, cutting out and gluing onto a round stick, such as a pencil. Of course I’m very excited by what the children will come up with to draw on theirs – the limit here is only their imagination!