Forward to the past…


Building a replica Kinetoscope seemed like rather an extravagance on the slender budget for the Robert Paul 150 exhibition. Would seeing a programme of original Kinetoscope subjects – some of Edison’s and the ones that Acres and Paul made in 1895, when Edison wouldn’t supply any more to his competitors – mean anything in the era of smartphones?

So far, I think the evidence is that it does. I’ve been watching visitors (above) and talking to some of them about how the queues for these machines convinced Paul and others (like the Lumieres) that there could be a market for ‘animated photography’. And so encouraged them to combine the magic lantern principle with film strips. Seeing some of the earliest demonstrations of this in our replica seems to have a certain fascination. Some of the films are still incredible – one of Edison’s earliest (from 1893!), Blacksmiths in action, passing the bottle round, and Acres and Paul’s two immortal hits, Rough Sea at Dover and Arrest of a Pickpocket, even in digital, and really take us back to the primal moment. It moves, it repeats…. life captured in a box!

Now for the DIY flipbook (coming soon), an improved Kinetoscope eyepiece, and the RWP150 teeshirt… Catch it while you can, at Bruce Castle Museum, Wednesdays – Sundays, 1 – 5pm. Best transport route probably tube to Seven Sisters, then one train stop (or walk) to Bruce Grove and a bus up the Grove to the Castle. Former home of the creator of the Victorian Penny Post.

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