Every kid loves a flipbook. It’s magic, at first sight, the way flipbooks bring sketches to life one frame at a time. But, horribly, flipbooks might also represent one of the first of many disappointments in a kid’s life: Pages run out, the animation stops dead.
Now, artist Juan Fontanive has discovered the equivalent of flipbook immortality, or maybe the fountain of flipbook youth. He crafts custom stainless steel boxes fitted with motors and intricate gears, which drive his screenprinted animations of birds and butterflies in endless, Rolodex-style loops. The results feel like classically illustrated nature books brought to life.
Fontanive’s mechanical boxes are the product of an alternate human history, one where digital cameras, touch screens, and YouTube were never created. Gone is the modern silence of silicon microchips. Gone are pixel-perfect image reproductions found on glowing screens. In Fontanive’s other-world timeline, we appreciate the endless inventiveness of mechanics, right down to the whir of the pages/wings as they flutter past our ears again and again.
Our imagination has room to breathe, and we can all be kids again, eyes fixed on a scene that never has to end.