Pictures in a Revolution: A Zoetrope

in collaboration with Elizabeth Addison, 2015
mixed-media kinetic sculpture
6'h x 3'w x 3'd
Our interactive, kinetic sculpture, Pictures in a Revolution, is based on the zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion. Inventor, William Horner, called his 1834 creation a Deadalum, or “Wheel of the Devil,” but it was eventually patented as a “Wheel of Life” or “Zoetrope,” a name made up of the Greek root words for “life” and “turning.”
In response to this year's theme, Today is The Shadow of Tomorrow, we have “re-purposed” an antique light & motion device to foreshadow the possibilities in a world without individual or institutional racism and violence. Our zoetrope presents pictures reflecting troubling contemporary issues and contrasts them with others drawn from myth, fables and traditional images used in Diá de los Muertos celebrations. Seen slowly, “frame by frame,” our images seem distinct and acute, but working as a whole, spinning into motion and action, those differences melt into a harmonious “moving picture” of society blending and braiding into one living, evolving entity.

Pictures in a Revolution: A Zoetrope 

in collaboration with Elizabeth Addison
mixed-media kinetic sculpture
Created for Today is the Shadow of Tomorrow, SOMArts' 16th Annual Día de los Muertos Exhibition, our interactive, kinetic sculpture, Pictures in a Revolution, is based on the zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion.


Between Heaven and Hell

in collaboration with Elizabeth Addison
SOMArts, San Francisco, October 2014
 installation - monoprint book, mixed-media and live performance
8'w x 12'h x 5'd
Although the origin of The Long Spoons Parable remains unknown, the story is ancient and it is a folklore mainstay in many spiritual cultures including Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, and Christian. What these cultures have in common is the practice of communicating difficult truths through story. This parable explains the difference between heaven and hell by means of people forced to eat with long spoons strapped to their arms – too long to reach their mouths. In the realm of Hell, people are unable to bring food to their own mouths with such unwieldy cutlery. They are eternally miserable and starving. In the realm of heaven, by contrast, people are happy, loving and loved, and well nourished even though it is the same setting. Why? They are feeding one another across the table.
We see The Long Spoons as a parable that applies on a grand scale – from market-driven real estate and corporate greed to forced migrations and the extinguishing of minority cultures worldwide. Focusing on our local communities, this parable has something to say about displacement and evictions in formerly stable and vibrant communities and the loss of cultural diversity. Change happens, but it doesn’t have to be hell... everyone has a stake in the future. Greed and self-interest can be exchanged for human kindness and generosity. We must nourish others to be nourished ourselves.

Tonglen Gift – Roots of Memory

in collaboration with Elizabeth Addison, October 2013
kinetic sculpture and multi-media installation
8' w x 12'h x 5'd
Tonglen is the Tibetan term for “giving and taking” or “sending and receiving.” In this Buddhist practice, one breathes in, imagining and assuming the suffering of others, and breathes out, bestowing happiness and attainment to all beings. Breath and life, as they continue, strengthen the roots we put down. Every breath counts.
This collaborative sculptural installation was originally created for SOMArts 2013 Día de los Muertos, Imagining Time, Gathering Memory. It is the expression of the two artists' interweaving their recent dreams and and an homage to recently lost parents and friends to long illnesses. It is also a meditation on the complex “giving and taking/sending and receiving” process by which memory works in time. We begin with an individual’s memory, moving on to cellular memory, organic memory, genetic memory, memory pathways, and resting with remembrance and memorial. Our metaphor, a living, “breathing” tree, embodies this process in the present with its strong trunk and leaves, as well as the past and future in its breathing roots.
This installation is dedicated to family, friends and all who are engaged in the treatment of life-threatening illnesses. The artists would like to give special thanks to our engineering wizard, Gregory Ward.


To enlarge images below, click on first image and use arrow.


Other Collaborations


Pamela Blotner with collaborator, Elizabeth Addison.
Pamela Blotner with collaborator, Elizabeth Addison.