Chromatrope rackwork slide


Photograph by Egmont Contreras, ACMI

Mechanical magic lantern slides created basic moving pictures. ‘Slipping slides’ used two glass slides featuring complementary images – one stationary and one that ‘slipped’ over the other to give the illusion of movement, like crocodiles snapping their jaws. As appetite for more dynamic lantern shows increased, so did the complexity of slides. Levers were incorporated to make children appear to skip, and pulley systems used two discs to create movements like whirling windmills. Rackwork mechanisms made glass discs revolve in opposite directions to show planets orbiting the sun and were used in chromotopes to create hypnotic, kaleidoscopic effects.

On display until:

ACMI: Gallery 1

12 August 2021



Maker not documented


115 x 255 x 14mm

Appears in


Dancing on a dream

Mechanical lantern slides called chromotropes created wondrously complex patterns of light through sliding glass panels and internal gears.

Group of items

Mechanical magic lantern slides



7 times

Please note: this archive is an ongoing body of work. Sometimes the credit information (director, year etc) isn’t available so these fields may be left blank; we are progressively filling these in with further research.

Cite this work on Wikipedia

If you would like to cite this item, please use the following template: {{cite web |url= |title=Chromatrope rackwork slide |author=Australian Centre for the Moving Image |access-date=10 May 2021 |publisher=Australian Centre for the Moving Image}}