Human Zoetrope? How One Man's Ring of Tattoos Transforms Into an Animation

Michele Debczak
iStock / iStock

Unless you’re willing to get a QR code etched into your skin, getting an animated tattoo is usually impossible. An artist from the animation studio Open the Portal has found a way around this by using a trick that dates back to 180 CE.

In this video spotted by Sploid, a ring of cartoon tattoos around the subject’s torso transforms into a human zoetrope when he spins. Even if you’ve never heard the word zoetrope, you’d likely recognize one if you saw it—they’re the spinning wheels with sequences of still images printed inside the rims. When the viewer peers into the slots around the edges, the pictures appear to spring to life in a seamless animation.

Tattoo artist Sean Arnold referenced the work of 19th-century motion picture pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in this creation, but humans have been using zoetropes as entertainment for nearly two millennia. The tattoo animation, titled “The Timecrow,” consists of 24 frames encircling the subject’s body.

You can watch them come together in the video below.

[h/t Sploid]