Stroboskopische Scheibe No. 4

Stroboskopische Scheibe No. 4
Stroposcopic Wheel N.4
Simon Ritter von Stampfer
0'30'' drawing colour
1832 (2013) | Austria
RVM · PyR Festival 2014

Stampfer's 'stroboscopic discs' and Joseph Plateau's 'phenakistiscopes' of the 1830s were the first instruments to create an illusion of movement based on rapidly changing sequence pictures; the basic technique was used subsequently in one form or another by the Zoetrope, the Zoopraxiscope and the cinematographer.

The Stampfer disc N.4 is “op art”: blue dots, moving in wiggly lines, organised around the center of the disc, a reminder of the mandala-like experimental film “Lapis” (1966) by John and James Whitney.


Simon Ritter von Stampfer
Simon Ritter von Stampfer

1792 | Matrei in Osttirol, Austria  / +1864

Austrian mathematician, researcher and inventor.

For many years he was a teacher of many disciplines, including mathematics, geometry, natural history, physics and Greek, and was also employed as a physicist and astronomer. His concern about his astronomical work with lenses and their accuracy and distortion led him to the field of optical illusions.

In 1832 Stampfer had read in the Journal of Physics and Mathematics, about Michael Faraday's experiments concerning the optical illusion caused by rapidly rotating gears. He conducted similar experiments and eventually developed the Stampfer Disc (also called the Stroboskopische Sheiben, Stroboscope Discs, optical magic disc, or simply Stroboscope ).

The device was developed and commercially marketed by the Viennese art dealers Trentsensky & Vieweg. The first edition was published in February 1833 and was soon sold out, so in July a second, improved edition appeared.

In 1849 Stampfer was awarded the Knight's Cross of His Most High Order of Leopold, after which he was called Simon Ritter von Stampfer.

Stampfer passed away on November 10th 1864 in Vienna.