Thursday, September 25, 2008

I’m Not Kidding: Rufus Seder’s Scanimation Books are Not Just for Kids

He may be old, but Rufus Butler Seder sure does have some cool moves. I purchased a copy of his first motion-picture book, Gallop, because it’s fantastically fun, of course. But when I met my best girlfriend for lunch and showed her my nifty new book, she was HORRIFIED, and promptly diagnosed me as a mamma-wanna-be: “Your biological clock is ticking. You’ve been shopping in the kids book section….ohmygod…” So, let me be clear: Seder’s moving images are works or art/science that just happen to be in the kiddie section of bookstores, but I assure you that they are fun for all ages…and buying a copy should not be a reflection of the tic toc of the biological clock. Please. Without further ado, here’s a little background on Seder:
It took him a very long time to come up with the technology for Gallop– decades, in fact. Rufus was in to art and magic as a kid, and now that he’s an adult….he’s still into it. About 20 years ago he started experimenting with LIFETILES, which are motion pictures that don’t require electricity or moving parts (A LIFETILE is an optical glass-tiled mural that appears to move as the viewer walks along side of it, so the only thing that has to move is the viewer). You can see LIFETILES at the Miami Zoo and various aquariums around the world, but these installations are way too large and expensive for normal people to put in their houses. Luckily, Rufus figured out how to make images move in a smaller format: books. The technology he uses to make this work is called “scanimation.” Here’s Rufus’ explanation of how it works:

Printed on the page is a series of distorted stripes representing a multiphase sequence of motion that means little to the naked eye. Printed on a clear plastic overlay is a series of black stripes. When the black stripes are moved over the distorted imagery at just the right angle and speed…you have motion. Fluid, sequential, multiphase animated motion. The beauty of this method is in its simplicity” It’s a centuries-old principle reinvented using the exactitude of modern science.

Seder recently came out with another moving image book, Swing. For the record, it’s a fabulous book-- and no baby required.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Does Science Make God Obselete?

The luncheon crowd at The Pierre roared with laughter as Christopher Hitchens, atheist and author of “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” debated whether science makes belief in God obsolete with Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete, former physicist and author of “God at the Ritz; Attraction to Infinity”. Surprisingly, the two were in agreement so often that Hitchens ultimately stated that he would “…not accuse Monsignor of being a Catholic,” and further grumbled, “I protest! I was told I was going to argue with a person of faith.” Whether Monsignor could be classified as a “true Catholic” or not, they disagreed enough to keep the debate interesting.
Monsignor talked of unexplainable love, while Hitchens compared Jesus to Kim Jong Il, whose deceased father is actually still the official ruler of North Korea, making it a necrocracy. “They’re one short of a Trinity,” declared Hitchens, who went on to explain the similarities of how North Koreans are in a similar predicament as Christians, who are required to love God, even when He appears not to take good care of his people. Hitchens even went so far as to point out one important point of difference in his example, which is that one can escape North Korea by dying, but a Christian is condemned, conditioned, and forced to love and thank God for all Eternity.
Over the course of an hour and a delicious three course lunch, the Monsignor and Hitchens also covered superstition, condoms, homosexuality, and thousands of years of history– it was a mouthful for everyone, to say the least. In sum: the purpose of Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete’s faith is to make sense out of life, just as science fills that role for Christopher Hitchens.
The panel moderator, Washington Post’s Sally Quinn, kept an even keel by opening the panel with a reading of both panelist’s horoscope and ending it by quoting a bumper sticker: “I don’t know, and neither do you.”