Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Musée Mécanique

Over spring break I was racking my brain for places to visit with some relationship to the course and remembered the Musée Mécanique at Fisherman's Wharf. I hadn't been there since I was a kid and my mom was in town so we took a few hours to explore. For those of who who've never heard of it, the Musée Mécanique is part museum, part penny arcade. It's a huge collection of old arcade games from the turn of the 19th century up through arcade games of the 1980's.

My favorite "games" were not games at all, but elaborate scenes that move and play music when you insert money. There was a barnyard scene that showed the epitome of racial stereotypes in the early 20th century. The white characters were sitting on porches eating and relaxing, while tiny black figures with giant
red lips and white eyes served food and tended animals. There was a carnival built by an injured carnie with moving rides, and a santa's workshop with the creapiest santa's i'd ever seen.

Though most of the "games" were not interactive at all, they were the pre-decessors to modern arcade games and home video games. The oldest machine there was a Praxinoscope created by Emile Reynaud. The Praxinoscope was the successor to the Zoetrope.The major difference being that instead of looking through small slit at the pictures within the zoetrope, the Praxinoscope used a central cylinder of mirrors to reflect the images as it moved so that the viewer could look from any direction to see the animation.

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