austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

All my two-dimensional boundaries were gone

There was more at the museum, since, it's a museum. The exhibit we found surprising and delightful was one on 3-D viewing, which made us realize it was a pity bunny_hugger's father wasn't there. Among the collection of ways to see things in three dimensions were armatures like the one used to see his three-dimensional pictures --- and an example of the camera he'd used to photograph us --- as well as simpler devices like an 18th century contraption that's simply a pair of angled mirrors. You put your head up the center and look at the reflections of slightly different pictures and after a few seconds realize the images just aren't coming together to a three-dimensional scene.

That's kind of a recurring theme, actually. Despite the surprisingly many different approaches used, three-dimensional images seem to get pretty stuck at looking kind of like ViewMaster reels, another technology on display (including a couple viewers and reels to just play with). You know what I mean, though, where the scene looks like several cutouts at different depths instead of a real three-dimensional scene. But besides that, and lenticular images --- were you aware there was a four-lensed camera made in the early 80s to allow you to take your own lenticular photographs, before finding out there was no possible way you could get these developed or printed? --- and glasses and random dot stereograms was a fine collection of the ways to look at stuff as if it were really there. For the red-blue glasses they also set up a repeating loop from a Canadian horror from from 1961, The Mask, also known as The Eyes Of Hell, which is really surreally unsettling.

Among the delightful surprises was of a ViewMaster-type contraption designed by the Radex corporation, which sold their own adventures, ``Captain Radex's Trip To The Moon'' and his Trip To Space. Even knowing Radex was the name of the company, ``Captain Raxes's Trip To Space'' sounds like what you'd create as a parody of 3-D adventures and 1950s space adventures. The company is still around, and selling 3-D viewers along with other photography stuff.

A surprise to us both was the exhibit of how at least one 3-D viewer company enlisted college students to sell 3-D viewers door to door. They had a mock dorm room set up, with a newspaper on the wall touting Michigan Agricultural College's second victory over University of Michigan on the gridiron, and showing the sorts of catalogues and samples that the enterprising college student of 1915 might be peddling. (If I'm reading the records right, this was MAC's second win over Michigan ever, though they'd tied in 1908 at 0-0, which the pair would manage to do again in 1930 and 1931 somehow. This isn't doing badly considering Rutgers's contemporary losing streak against Princeton.) Quite a few of the 3-D pictures are comic scenes of playful infidelity, including enough of the door-to-door 3-D viewer salesman kissing the woman of the house while the man is distracted that it seems like the companies were mostly in the business of getting their enterprising college students punched in the face. I don't understand the economics of this.

Trivia: During Thomas Edison's August-October 1889 absence in Paris his research team was able to produce motion pictures lasting twelve seconds. Source: Edison: A Biography, Matthew Josephson. (I realize on reading this that I can't say unambiguously whether that's a twelve seconds in single films, or an aggregate of twelve seconds of action. From context I think it means twelve-second film samples, though.)

Currently Reading: Oxygen: The Molecule That Made The World, Nick Lane. If nothing else all the biochemistry talk has made me appreciate just how eye-rollingly dumb the sci-fi trope of the nanites that replace every cell in the body with superior networked robots really is. Also, cells can have more than one mitochondria? They never told me that back in ninth grade. Why didn't anyone mention it? Besides that everything anyone knew about biology before 1995 was stupid and wrong?


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