Fundamentals of Immersion

May 13

Pre-Cinema Immersion Contextual Analysis: The Pseudoscope

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As a contextual analysis for a series of artefacts that are no longer being produced and experienced at scale, I thought it would be interesting to build one from scratch. I have encountered most of the artefacts discussed at some point in some form or another, but never a pseudoscope. I thought it would be interesting to build and experiment with one.

A pseudoscope is a device that uses a series of mirrors to swap the inputs of each eye.

pseudoscopeImage from pseudoscope.blogspot.com

Looking through the pseudoscope makes the viewer confront and consider the minute differences between what is glimpsed through each eye. It is said to cause fascinating optical illusions. For example, looking through a pseudoscope at a spinning sphere with a stick in it is said to appear as if if the stick and sphere are spinning in opposite direction.

I found several sources online for building a pseudoscope quickly and for cheap. After gathering materials and overcoming some logistical problems with the maker lab, I was able to assemble a working pseudoscope in about half an hour.

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The experience of looking through a pseudoscope without an illusion ready is lackluster. It takes some time to adjust it for the spacing of your eyes, and it takes time for your eyes to adjust. The minute imperfections of my pseudoscope are pronounced – the base is not perfectly flat so it must be held a certain way, or else the images do not line up and result in double vision. It also does not “auto-focus” for distance in the way our eyes do, requiring manual adjustment of the reflectors if you move from viewing something close up to something far away.

Once these issues are settled, though, the pseudoscope proves fascinating. It feels like it requires focus and alertness to view images through it, and although the images are familiar it feels like it is more work, physically, to view them.

The next steps would be to research and create a series of illusions for the pseudoscope, as well as tweak the current design for user-friendliness.

Works Consulted:

Make: “Weekend Project: $10 Pseudoscope.” YouTube, YouTube, 7 May 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=107&v=_Y9rmizlrg8.

Make a Pseudoscope, pseudoscope.blogspot.com/.

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