Digital Stereoscope Viewer


This interactive emulates the experience of using a 19th-century stereoscope. It was developed in conjunction with a major retrospective on the pioneering American photographer Carleton Watkins, that included stereo images he created in California during the 1860s–1880s.

Stereograms—when viewed through a stereoscope viewer—create a dramatic illusion by reproducing the visual effect of three-dimensionality. In the late 19th century, stereograms were enormously popular in America; they were widely collected and many homes owned a stereoscope.

The main objective of these interactives was to recreate, as closely as possible, the excitement of a 19th-century viewer upon initially encountering the impression given by a stereoscope. A mini-computer and custom application displays the stereographs on a LCD screen hidden in a wooden case designed to resemble a Victorian cabinet. Visitors navigate through the images by turning a USB control knob on the side. The images appear to flip through real photographs on paper, including the associated sound effects.

Produced for The J. Paul Getty Museum exhibition Dialogue among Giants: Carleton Watkins and the Rise of Photography in California in 2008.

Custom interactive application running on miniPC with hi-res screen, USB controller knob, and stereo image viewer.

Director and technical producer: Paco Link
Production coordinator: Keeli Shaw
Editor: Maria Gilbert
Designer: Robert Checchi
Developer: Mark Baltzegar