Chrysler Motors at the 1939 New York World’s Fair

January 4, 2011


I’ve had an interest in the 1939 New York World’s Fair ever since as a child I came across a paperweight that my grandmother had depicting the Trylon and Perisphere that were the inescapable symbols of that fair. The Trylon was narrow triangular 610 foot tall tower that sat next to the round Perisphere, 185 feet in diameter. I’ve read books about it and even a DVD of silent color film footage taken there (more than anything else this gives you the feeling of what it was actually like to stroll along the broad avenues that housed the various exhibit halls.

There’s another reason for my interest and that’s because this World’s Fair introduced a polarized, Technicolor, stop-motion animated 3D movie, directed by John Norling. The film was called “In Tune with Tomorrow” and  it was a centerpiece of the Chrysler Pavilion. In 15 minutes you watched a 1939 Chrysler Plymouth being assembled from parts that – without human intervention – danced and hopped into place. (The 1939 version was in B&W, for the 1940 edition it was color and the name was changed to “New Dimensions”). A 2D version used to be available online but has been removed. For more details check out the Iowahawk web page here.

Periodically, 3D seems to surface due some specific technical advance, briefly capture the attention and imagination of the public and then slip off the radar again, derided as just a ‘gimmick.’ Right now it seems we are in the midst of the biggest 3D revival the world has yet seen with mainstream Hollywood films, animated and live action, being produced, 3D capable television sets and video game consoles for sale, along with the first twin-lens 3D digital cameras for consumer use (the Fuji W1 and W3).

While stereoscopic 3D imagery will always be interesting to me, it remains to be seen if the current passion for 3D becomes a permanent evolution in mass media, or will once again fade out of the mainstream and become a niche interest of a small number of dedicated hobbyists.



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