The Magic Lantern Society

New Light on Old Media

Welcome to Issue 28 of New Light on Old Media

Happy Halloween !
Phantasmagoria is a steampunk-style story-telling troupe based in Orlando, Florida. They use a mixture of live performance, puppetry and interactive projection in their shows and you can see a short film of their work here on You Tube.
Smelling salts are available.

Mervyn Heard : Editor

Lighting Up London

St Paul's Cathedral - all fired up 

Question: Was the Great Fire of London of 1666 started by an over-enthusiastic magic lantern exhibitor?  Probably not. Just a thought. During September London has been commemorating this momentous event in Britain's history with a variety of activities including the projection of flames onto St Paul's famous dome and, more importantly, some al fresco magic lantern performances from Nicole Mollet and Frog Morris. These latter-day itinerant gallanty folk who operate under the name of The Art of Projection  also ran a series of workshops at the Museum of London.  They have devised a number of special performances employing both traditional and unique material created by Nicole.

You can discover more about their work and up and coming performances on their website here.

Nicole Mollet and Frog Morris

Nicole : an original slide

The Miraculous Magic Lantern - maybe

I've always been fascinated by the 'Vision of Our Lady of Knock' - a miraculous appearance which took place in a small village in Ireland in 1879. At the time a few local sceptics believed that the vision on the whitewashed wall of the small parish church was a hoax perpetrated by a mischievous lanternist. Most reasoned research has concluded that given the terrain and necessary placement of the lantern such a ploy is unlikely.  A new documentary Strange Occurrences in a Small Irish Village re-examines both the story and myths surrounding the event. It was released in Irish cinemas in late August and I hope will be available more widely soon. You can read more about the project and watch a very entertaining short trailer for the movie on the Underground Films site here.

Australian Heritage in the Limelight


Last week I received a copy of a new e-letter from the Australian National University College of Arts and Social Sciences.  Heritage in the Limelight aims to carry regular updates on their current wide-ranging Research Council Discovery Project, which investigates the many different contexts in which lantern slides were shown and the breadth of stories told through this media. Visit the ANU website here to examine on-going research. 

If you would like to receive a regular copy of updates you can e-mail research fellow Dr Elisa de Courcy who will add you to her mailing list.  Eliza's address:

Also here's a direct link from the same site to a video entitled The Magic Of Glass produced by the National Film and Sound Archive which offers a beautifully produced introduction to the magic lantern and to the NFSA's own pioneering preservation work.

More About the

Magic Lantern Society

If you have an interest in research or performance involving the magic lantern or other forms of vintage visual media  you might want to consider joining The Magic Lantern Society. We publish a regular quarterly printed journal and meet on a regular basis in the UK and other parts of Europe.
For further information and back issues of this e-letter go to  

You will find our sister organisation The Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada here:

New York Highlight


This is a 250 foot long projection screen which was recently flown above the New York skyline. It was towed by two helicopters while a third projected a very large advertisement for the  MTV Video Music Awards.  You can see the stunt and learn more about how it was achieved here. These endeavours earned the company Branding By Air  an entry in the Guiness Book of Records.

Watch this space.

Ben Hur : Not Coming Soon


If you're wondering what the above image has to do with the major new film release Ben Hur I recommend you pay a visit to this page on the internet.  It's on the Queensland State Library website and explores various cinematic manifestations of the Ben Hur story. It includes a report on possibly the first real screen version which was presented in 1905 at His Majesty's Theatre Brisbane by the Reverend Loyal L Wirt, having transferred from the Congregational Church Wharf Street . It featured 70 lantern slides. 

Experimental Motion 

A forthcoming exhibition at the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery will explore experimental film-making in Brighton and Hove from 1896 to the present day.  Experimental Motion: the art of film innovation runs from 22 October 2016 until 4 June 2017 and will feature footage by the earliest celebrated film pioneers George Albert Smith and James Williamson together with work from present day filmmakers and moving image artists. Highlights will include experimental cine-cameras used at the turn of the 19th century, film by avant garde director Jeff Keen who created Dada-esque movies in the 1950s, recent prize-winning films by Ben Rivers blending fiction and documentary.
You can find more information and links to individual artists websites here.

G A Smith : A Kiss in the Tunnel, 1899

Dead Interesting


Remember Halloween is not just for the last night in October. Now you can enjoy it for a whole month - at least you can in London. Thanks to the arts organisation A Curious Invitation This series of talks, concerts and at least one notable lantern show performance will celebrate death and decay and take place appropriately, in cemeteries all over London. You can find the entire delightful schedule here


A Foaming Nightmare

Gone are the days when one might be sufficiently amused to discover the outline of a heart or a frothy fern design floating on top of your latte.  Now latte-art has taken on Royal Academy-like proportions and even engendering various tutorials on You Tube
(e.g. Kaya's Latte Art with Elegance).

So, since Halloween is fast approaching I thought you might like to try out and savour some latte art with a seasonal spin right here


New Light on Old Media Issue 28, October 2016
Copyright © 2016 The Magic Lantern Society, All rights reserved.

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