Sunday, June 25, 2006

Many thousand views

I was recently given a reproduction of an ‘Endless Landscape’ ‘closely based on one published in Leipzig in the 1830s’. This is an example of a myriorama, a pack of cards depicting slices of landscape which can be rearranged to create different panoramic views. The word myriorama derives from Greek myrias, “ten thousand”, and refers to the different combinations possible with a relatively small number of cards. The myriorama was invented in 1802 by Jean-Pierre BrĂ©s (1760-1834) and developed in England by John H. Clark (1771-1863). Stephan Oettermann’s comprehensive book on the Panorama includes the advertisement for Clark’s myriorama that was published in the brochure for the Regent’s Park Diorama in 1825:
Picturesque Scenery / Just Published, The Myriorama; or, many Thousand Views, Designed by Mr. Clark. The Myriorama is a movable Picture, consisting of numerous Cards, on which Fragments of Landscapes, neatly coloured, and so ingeniously contrived that any two, or more, placed together, will form a pleasing View; or if the whole are put on a table at once, will admit the astonishing Number of 20,922,789,888,000 Variations: it is therefore certain, that if a person were occupied night and day, making one change every minute, he could not finish the task in less than 39,807,888 years, and 330 days. The cards are fitted up in an elegant box, price 15s.
The Myriorama (second Series) consisting entirely of Italian Scenery, Designed by Mr Clark. The Second Series is capable of even greater variation thn the First, as the number of cards is increased from 16 to 24. The changes or variations which may be produced by the 24 Cards, amount to the astounding and almost incredible number of 640,448,401,733,239,360,000. Price 1 L. 4s. in an Elegant Box.
There is a photograph of a myriorama at the Bill Dougas Centre site. The term myriorama later came to be used for moving panoramas – Poole’s Myriorama is mentioned in the ‘Penelope’ chapter of Joyce’s Ulysses. The concept of a myriorama could be adapted to contemporary art in various ways: one example on-line is this installation by the Australian artist Tony Clark.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We thought you might enjoy this...

Endless Landscapes
18 magnets, from a set of paintings by artist Alice Angus, to arrange
in any order and create an endless journey of continuous, shifting
panoramas. Part fact and part fiction, the Endless Landscape plays
with geography and history. It is littered with improbable
landscapes, ghostly evocations and historical anomalies. Phantoms of
a WW2 Barrage Balloon, the Montgolfiers' 1783 hot air balloon, the
1903 Spencer Airship No2 and Amy Johnson's de Havilland DH60 Gipsy
Moth in which she flew to Australia in 1930, share the sky with
Concorde and geese flying south.