Lonely Planet Writer

Giant flipbooks in this New Hampshire forest are blowing peoples' minds

There are certain things hikers expect to see while traversing the forest — trees, streams, various woodland creatures — and certain things they might not expect.

Until social media caught on, no one outside of campers had seen the project.
Until social media caught on, no one outside of campers had seen the project. Image by Beam Camp

In the woods of Strafford, New Hampshire, for example, you will find a gaggle of Universal Play Machines, or oversized metal flip books, juxtaposed with the natural landscape.

The machines are part of an interactive art installation at the Beam Camp, a co-ed sleep-away camp with a focus on creative problem solving. Each session, campers and staff collaborate on a large-scale project, and one recently entailed building and installing five kinetic sculptures designed by London-based Mobile Studio Architects.

Project, cabins and day in the life at Beam Camp in Strafford, NH
Project, cabins and day in the life at Beam Camp in Strafford, NH Image by Beau Camp

The sculptures measure 45″ deep, 63″ tall, and 34.5″ wide, and are made from welded metal frames with an internal rotating mechanism that holds 100 illustrated pages, hand-traced and coloured by the campers. Turn the crank to flip the illustrations for a vibrant animation depicting bird behaviour, inspired by the surroundings.

 One way mirror film covers the sides so in daylight the structure reflects the forest

In daylight the structure reflects the forest.  Image by Beau Camp

One-way mirror-film covers the sides so in daylight the structure reflects the forest, while at night, LED lights are switched on to highlight its internal mechanism.  Over the winter, the flip books are placed inside for safekeeping, but during the summer curious visitors are welcome to contact the Beam Camp to arrange a tour.

Over the winter, the flip books are placed inside
Over the winter, the flip books are placed inside Image by Beau Camp

“Until this project got some decent social media attention, no one outside of the campers and their families (and a few random hikers) had ever seen our projects,” co-founder and executive director of the Beam Camp, Brian Cohen told Lonely Planet. “We’re happy that people are noticing what our campers and staff do in the New Hampshire forest because it’s spectacular.”