Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

The discovery of the illusion of implied motion began simply enough with the Zoetrope. When looking at a series of still images, which show the same subject in a slightly different position in time, the rapid succession of those images gets translated in our minds as a moving image.


The theory of Persistence of Vision explains that continual motion is an illusion that occurs in our mind. When the image changes from one to the other, the first image will linger in our mind long enough to have it merge with the second one. The faster the images appear, the less jerky the motion appears.

This process was explored and refined into our modern day films. 24 frames per second is the standard. 24 separate images flash before us in one second, and we see movement.

During grammar school, my classmates and I would grab our books of higher learning and painstakingly go about the business of creating flip books out of the corners. We'd toil away, and I'm sure look quite busy and concentrated, while we drew out stick figure fights, car chases, you name it. We'd become immersed in our creations and by doing so were participating in one of the simplest and most natural of acts.

And we do this all of the time! You and I, participating in the act of beholding and the beholden. Letting ourselves get carried away by the iMAGICnation of our waking dreams. Outside of time, place and space.

Stillness in Movement; The art of motion, and more than this: This is our uncanny ability to believe. This is what allows us to become absorbed in a novel as with words, it weaves and guides us through a perfectly constructed universe. A play, as the bombastic acts of the players trigger in us a recognition and empathy that entertains and reveals. A song, the melody and words that truly create the soundtrack of our lives, the lyrical ebb and flow that is instantly familiar. A Lover, the glorious moment of blending, melting, sharing, where our souls meet and are united in heaven.

It is the moment when we participate in aesthetic arrest. A moment and an action that we surely do not give ourselves enough credit for. The Willing Suspension of Disbelief is a natural skill we all posses and use unconsciously.

All of the time.

We are immersed in the moment and the moment consumes us, carries us, and offers us that wonderful feeling of living, breathing, beauty.

"The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest." - Joseph Campbell.

Here's a great example of a modern day Zoetrope: