A 19th century phenakistoscope disc (image via Dick Balzer on Tumblr)

Wow, digital art man, it’s so fresh, like short moving pictures in the Graphics Interchange Format and cyber-self-portraits and the printer that will make a flimsy thing out of plastic just like that. New media, as we well know, is a bottomless cornucopia of originality — a recent auction of some such computer things on Park Avenue proved it.

But wait — net artisans The Verge recently uncovered evidence that nearly two hundred years ago, 19th-century trolls were looping images for naught but the #LOLs. Verge calls them proto-GIFs (what about neo–flip books?), but their actual name is phenakistoscope discs, and you can read about them on Wikipedia. Talk about putting the Trecartin before the horse!

Here are some phenakistoscopes, animated as GIFs, via Dick Balzer on Tumblr:


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Mostafa Heddaya

Mostafa Heddaya is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic.