May 24, 2013 10:06 AM   Subscribe

“We did our first show in a bar...all of a sudden, the whole room was quiet. And then we got everyone to sit on the floor cross-legged to watch our crankies.”

Storytelling and song with hand-cranked panoramas were once common entertainments - early motion pictures. Some can still be seen: Pilgrim's Progress at the Saco Museum in Maine, or Whaling Voyage 'Round the World at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. They're being rediscovered for their strangely compelling magic by today's artists and musicians. More crankies can be found at these links, along with some information about making them.

Lella Todd
Lord Bateman
Pickett's Charge
Seattle's First Crankie Festival
Frog Went a-Courting
Desperate Battle of the Birds
Oran Na Maighdinn Mhara (The Mermaid Song)

How to Make a Crankie
Much more crankie-philia at The Crankie Factory
posted by Miko (10 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
The Garibaldi Panorama at Brown University is totally amazeballs.*

*A highly technical term we in special collections use in circumstances such as this one.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:48 AM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

These are charming. I especially liked the French Canadian one at the last link.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:58 AM on May 24, 2013

The Pickett's Charge one is an amazing piece of puppetry/animation (in the old-fashioned sense). But the transitions in that particular piece are breathtaking.
posted by emjaybee at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

What a terrific thing it is to see something mechanical in a world of more and more frequently digitized art.
posted by xingcat at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2013

It's a bit like kamishibai (wiki).
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:23 AM on May 24, 2013

Isn't there a special kind of pants you have to wear to run one of these?

posted by mmrtnt at 11:54 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh my God. I saw Liz and Anna for the first time a few weeks ago after being a Liz fan for a while. The show was life changing. The entire audience was brought to tears multiple times. I found myself contemplating deep parts of the way I live my life as a result. I'm not kidding. It was incredible. If you get a chance to see them, do it. It will inspire you.
posted by Polyhymnia at 12:26 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Bunyan one is great, because Pilgrim's Progress is something that American evangelicals are so fucking obsessed with, and the interest sort of ebbs and flows--so you can see the culture of evangelical america by the material culture that is used to explain it as a text. It has made a bit of a rise in the last couple of years, and so I have been thinking about it (esp. w. homeschool/great books circuliums) and so I am mostly excited by this because it is another example of that narrative.
posted by PinkMoose at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I didn't even know they had this. Great freaking post.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:49 PM on May 24, 2013

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