“From Dreams of Flying to the Dream Factory: Polish Leonardos” is the Polish part of the “Leonardo da Vinci - Energy of Mind” exhibition. Prepared by the National Centre for Film Culture, the exhibition presents the profiles and projects of Polish inventors (versatile like Leonardo), who entered the history books of world aviation, textile manufacturing and cinematography as well as contributed to the rise of colour photography and the development of television. The exhibition can be visited from 25 November 2017 to 3 June 2018.
EC1 is the only place in the world where visitors will be able to see a biopleograph – a cinematographic apparatus devised by Kazimierz Prószyński, called the Columbus of Cinema, recreated by the National Centre for Film Culture within the framework of an experimental reconstruction over a hundred years after its destruction.
The “apparatus used for copying from nature and playing luminous sensations received by our eye with any visible movements of body, maintaining the sensation of continuity of given movements” is a refined version of the pleograph from 1894 (devised one year prior to the cinematograph of the Lumière brothers!), which was used to record and project film material. In the exhibition there will also be a replica of the sprocket wheel created by Proszyński.
Apart from the pleograph and the sprocket wheel, Prószyński also patented the first handheld camera for reporter photography, the so-called aeroscope (devices built on the basis of his projects were, for instance, used to chronicle battles on the western front of WWI) and the popular amateur film camera called “Eye”; he was also the inventor of a system that enabled a steady, fluctuating shift of the film reel that minimised vibrations and eliminated image flickering during projection.
Louis Lumière, in a commentary on Prószyński’s inventions, supposedly said, “Gentlemen, this man is the first in cinematography, I am the second.”
“Kazimierz Prószyński was a brilliant inventor and a forerunner of today’s start-ups,” says Piotr Kulesza, the curator of the exhibition. “He repeatedly invested his knowledge, time and money in inventions that his contemporaries considered to be not very promising, but which revolutionised the period’s outlook on life. However, he also suffered defeats: when his investor went bankrupt, he personally destroyed the first hundred specimens of the “Eye” that had been produced in his factory, so that nobody could copy his idea.
The second “film” hero of the exhibition will be Jan Szczepanik, the author of several hundred patented solutions in the field of film and photo technology. His inventions include the telectroscope and telephot - devices used to remotely send moving colour images and sound (thus a prototype of television); a camera that used a system of rolls that made it possible to stabilise the film reel inside the casing, make the device smaller and increase the precision of image recording; a system of colour film; and . . . programming of jacquard cloth production and a bulletproof jacket. Szczepanik’s work fascinated his friend, Mark Twain.
Next to the film exhibits, visitors will be able to see Polish inventions that are technologically closer to Leonardo da Vinci’s thought: Jan Wnęk’s flights and Czesław Tański’s glider.
A carpenter and sculptor, an autodidact from the Odporyszów region, called “the Icarus from Dunajec”, Jan Wnęk practised flight upon flight almost a quarter of a century before Otto Lilienthal, celebrated as the father of gliding. Relying on no more than observation of birds, insects and bats, he probably created the first navigable manned airship in the world. He died due to the injuries sustained during an aviation escapade. His incredible sculptures can be seen in the Odporyszów parish, where there is a Jan Wnęk museum, in the Ethnographic Museum in Cracow and, since Friday, also in EC1.
In turn, Czesław Tański is the creator of the first Polish glider (“lotnia” in Polish), thanks to which he soared up, starting off flat ground, probably as the first in the world. The original glider was destroyed during WWII, but its reconstruction will be on display in the exhibition.
The objects reconstructed for the purposes of the exhibition will be later incorporated into the collection of the National Centre for Film Culture. The “Leonardo da Vinci - Energy of Mind” exhibition and its Polish component can be visited till 3 June. Tickets are available at www.leonardowlodzi.pl.
The biopleograph was reconstructed thanks to financial support of the Polish Film Institute.
The media partner of the exhibition opening on 24 November 2017 was Radio Łódź.