Fort Worth is about to learn a new 10-dollar word: "zoetrope." It's an optical toy invented in the 19th century (predating animated film) — one which shows images in rapid succession, creating the illusion of motion.
That is the official definition from Downtown Fort Worth, Inc., which is bringing 12 giant zoetropes to Burnett Park in a free, family-friendly, illuminated musical installation called, simply, "Loop." It's the attraction's first stop in Texas.
Loop, which opens to the public September 28, is part art installation, part amusement-park ride. It is described as "a larger-than-life cross between a music box, a zoetrope, and a railway handcar."
Still slightly confused? Here's how it works:
There are cylinders more than 2 meters in diameter (meters, one presumes, because it was first presented at a festival in Montreal), inside which people of all ages can sit and pump a lever together to activate the images. What should appear but beautiful scenes inspired by 12 different childhood fairy tales, organizers say.
"When the cylinder starts spinning, it lights up, making a series of still images appear to move through a flickering strobe effect that accompanies the black and white images," a news release says. "The animation is visible both inside and outside the cylinder and can be viewed from up close or far away."
Participants set the pace, which determines how fast the images move, the frequency of the flickering, and the tempo of the music. (So it sounds like a creative workout alternative to a stationary bike, too.)
"Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. is honored to host the first Loop experience in Texas," says Andy Taft, president of the organization, in the release. "We hope this world class exhibit is enjoyed by people from throughout the Metroplex."
Loop will be open 8 am-10 pm daily and will run through October 28. Burnett Park is at 501 W. Seventh St., at Lamar, and is best known as the urban park with the "Man with a Briefcase" sculpture.