The Never-Ending Flipbook Machines

When we think of sculptures, we tend to imagine a static object frozen in time. But J.C. Fontanive, a visual artist based in Queens, makes sculptures that move. 

Fontanive’s flipbook machines take inspiration from the natural fluttering of birds and butterflies to depict how machines (and our eyes) can create a fluid illusion of movement. These moving sculptures invite the viewer to experience the images, their patterns of movement, and the behavior of the machine all at once. “The tangible nature of physics and ideas of air resistance, friction, gravity, and the function and form of the work are very much entwined,” he says. 

Fontanive’s kinetic sculptures, including the Ornithology and Vivarium series, ask a fundamental question: How do we perceive the illusion of motion?


Produced by Luke Groskin
Music by Audio
Additional Footage by J.C. Fontanive, Pond5, Eadweard Muybridge,
Prelinger Archives / Encyclopedia Britannica “How the Eye Works”
Project Atrium: Juan Fontanive, Movement 4. Site-specific installation. Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL.

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About Luke Groskin

Luke Groskin is Science Friday’s video producer. He’s on a mission to make you love spiders and other odd creatures.

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