The Magic Lantern at Work
Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting
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For centuries, various new media technologies have provided individuals with a set of powerful tools to affect their audiences. Among these the magic lantern show was perhaps the most pervasive, and persuasive. Around the world audiences gathered together in darkened rooms to see a sequence of projected images transition one into another as they listened to personal stories or scripted narrations. Through the power of the magic lantern audiences, for the first time, became the direct witnesses to distant, often traumatic, political events; they visually learned new scientific and medical knowledge, virtually experienced distant places, and collectively experienced strange, often uncanny, phenomena. Although relatively neglected until recently, the apparatus of the magic lantern is now receiving the attention it deserves from historians, curators and artists. Through a set of case studies focusing on the use of the magic lantern by very different, but equally fascinating individuals, a team of international scholars analyses the emerging power of the lantern show in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries within politics, religion, travel, science, health, marketing and entertainment. The magic lantern’s connections to today’s multimedia environments are explored through the intertwined themes of connecting, experiencing, witnessing and persuading.
Table of Contents
1. The Magic Lantern at Work: Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting
2. The Magic Lantern as a Creative Tool for Understanding the Materiality and Mathematics of Image-Making
3. Spirits in the Fairgrounds: Métempsycose and Its After-Images
Evelien Jonckheere and Kurt Vanhoutte
4. ‘We Fighters on the Outposts’: Suffragists and Lantern Slides, 1889-1913
5. Magical Attractions: Lantern Slide Lectures at British Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meetings, c. 1850-1920
6. The Missionaries’ Servant: Babel, Funding and the Bible Society in Australia
7. The Endless Universe and Eternal Life: Clement L. Wragge’s Magic Lantern Lectures
8. Flights of Fancy: The Production, Reception and Implications of Lawrence Hargrave’s Magic Lantern Lecture Lope de Vega
Ursula K. Frederick
9. Anna Mary Longshore Potts and the Anglophone Circuit for Lantern Lecturing in the Late Nineteenth Century
10. Sidney Dickinson: ‘One of the Most Entertaining Speakers Ever Upon the Melbourne Platform’
11. The Difficulties of Witnessing: Armin T. Wegner’s Lantern Slide Show on the Armenian Genocide
Vanessa Agnew and Kader Konuk
Martyn Jolly is Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design.
Elisa deCourcy is Research Fellow at the Australian National University School of Art and Design.