Experiment 2: Phi Movement Circle

It is not important what goes on each frame of film; it’s the spaces between frames that are important  (Norman McClaren – Canadian Animator)


The phi movement circle is an experiment in creating movement that is attention-less.

Phi movement was discovered by Max Wertheimer (a founder of the Gestalt movement) and written about by him in a rather dense and esoteric manner in 191 alongside experiments in flicker vision. Here he dubbed it pure movement as the attention centres on no concrete object but rather the absence of object. It is a different physiological perception of movement to beta perception which is continuous.

(Wertheimers writing on phi was subsequently translated and reinterpreted by E.G. Boring who moved the ranges for creating and perceiving the phenomenon thus rendering it elusive until fairly recently)

We were interested to see if the phenomenon might change when viewed with no screen and if the absence of flicker would impact on perception.


Other Phi movement experiments