The Fotoplastikon: What if You Could Travel in Time for the Price of a Bus Ride?
The Fotoplastikon is a stereoscopic machine. The first commercial stereoscopic machines were the “August Fuhrmann’s Kaiser-Panoramas”, which appeared in Berlin, in 1883.
Contrary to most of Fuhrmann’s machines, which disappeared with the advent of cinema, the Warsaw Fotoplastikon has been clanking in the same place until today, making it the oldest operating stereoscopic theater still in its original location (it’s there since 1905).
But what is a stereoscopic image in the first place?
“A stereoscopic image creates the illusion of three-dimensional depth by showing two offset images to each eye”. In other words, it’s basically what we today call 3D.
So yes, 3D was invented a LONG time ago.
Fotoplastikon, the travel machine
If I told you that you could travel back in time for the price of a bus ride (1$), would you do it?
Stepping into the Fotoplastikon in Warsaw is a truly time-warping experience. As you walk into the tiny room that accommodates the machine – before you even put your eyes on the viewfinder – you are quickly transported back in time. Old songs play quietly in the background, the gentle smell of old wood permeates your nostrils and the sight of this old machine, once the latest miracle of the entertaining business, takes you away from modern society.
The Fotoplastikon has a collection of more than seven thousands 3D pictures.
These pictures were captured by hundreds of photographers and journalists, which were sent around the world to depict all those faraway places that the common people could not afford to see. Some of these photographers collected images of exotic destinations, to feed the curiosity of the people of the time. Others photographers just documented the everyday life in communist Warsaw.
When to visit the Fotoplastikon
Since the collection of the Fotoplastikon is massive – and the machine shows only 48 pictures at a time – the exhibition will probably be different every time you visit. If you want to figure out what will be displayed on your visit, go here (http://fotoplastikonwarszawski.pl/obecne/).
The Fotoplastikon recently started displaying pictures of Warsaw from the break of the 19th century, before the destruction of the two World Wars. You will be able to step back in time and see a completely different Warsaw, and then go out and compare with what it is today.
Why visit the Fotoplastikon
The Fotoplastikon has made time travel possible for thousands of people over the course of the past century. In the early days of its creation, it was used as a window into the future and world; today, it’s used as a window to the past.
For the price of a bus ticket (4zl) you can travel to a period when cinema did not exist. What are you waiting for? 🙂