The Magic Lantern Society

New Light on Old Media

Welcome to Issue 32 of New Light on Old Media

This particular contraption is one of thirteen which could be found on the streets during the recent Luminotherapie Event in Montreal. The Loop was created by Olivier Girouard and Jonathan Villeneuve in collaboration with Ottoblix.  It's a fusion of music box, zoetrope and railway handcar ( The kind of self propelled track repairer's device exprienced in old Buster Keaton comedies). Pump the handle and the cylinder spins offering all the delights of the animated picture.
Read and see more here.

Mervyn Heard : Editor

 Talc Talk

Roughly 300 years separate the top picture from the one below it. The top one shows what you can do to enhance or de-enhance your appearance with the aid of a Masquerade app on your smartphone.  The bottom version shows much the same thing but dates from the early 18th century.  Back then a 'talc' was a portrait miniature supplied with an assortment of mica overlays to enable you to see yourself in a variety of different frocks and disguises. The first 'talcs' were produced in Holland as early as 1650 and their popularity soon spread throughout Europe and all the way to India.  There are a few examples in the V&A Museum in London (as above) and also in the Royal Collection. This page has a detailed description.  There are also several examples to be seen here on the Richard Balzer Collection website. Which is also worth visiting for all kinds of delightful reasons.




In this new book by Steven Johnson the author takes a look at some innovations with distant origins which came about through our love of play and keeping ourselves amused.   It includes a whole section on the influence of optical toys such as the magic lantern and stage illusion.  You can take a quick look inside and order from Amazon here.


Ways of Seeing &
The Horizontorium


The start of the year saw the passing of John Berger, the distinguished art critic, author and presenter of the 1970's TV series Ways of Seeing. Many people consider that this series of programmes changed the way we saw art. The best selling spin-off book is still widely read.
In January 2017 Princeton University launched a webpage dedicated to John Berger whilst featuring just one example of many different ways past generations have quite literally explored new angles on art. The Horizontorium of 1832 was an early attempt at offering objects in 3D, using an anamorphic representation of the original and a specific vantage point on which to rest your chin. (The small semicircle at the base of the printed sheet).  You can read all about the Horizontorium here on their site.


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  

Our sister organisation is The Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada :

Circus of Shadows

Sergi Buka is a Spanish illusionist and specialist in the art of shadowgraphy.  He performs regularly with Germany's reknowned circus company Circus Roncalli and you can now see him in action and being interviewed in a German made documentary recently posted here on youtube.  Sergi's way of staging a shadow show for an audience seated in the round involves a specially constructed tricycle and is both eccentric and ingenious.
Members of The Magic Lantern Society can see Sergi in action at the forthcoming ML International Convention in Birmingham at the end of April.  You can visit Sergi's own website here.
Sergi also has his own inspired show in the pipeline which we hope to profile soon.

Peephole Cinema

Here's a cunning concept based on the old kinetoscope and the eternal idea that something which is hard to see must be worth seeing. This is Peephole Cinema which can be encountered in various locations in the USA. Namely Brooklyn, Los Angeles and most recently San Francisco. Look through the hole and you are offered a selection of ancient and/or modern mini-masterpieces. Guest curators are chosen every two months. You will find the Peephole site here. US based New Light subscribers can click on the different venues to discover what's currently on show at their local hole in the wall. (The Peephole Cinema collective boast 'standing room only').


Back Story

Thomas Mailaender is a French mutli-media artist who applies photographic negative images taken from the Archive of Modern Conflict and applies them to human skin. These are seared onto the skin with the aid of a UV lamp. The result resembles something between a bad attack of sunburn and an indelible record of recent news footage.  More hurtful examples here. 


Calendar Boy


If you're looking for a new hobby for 2017 you could follow in the footsteps of Japanese artist Tanaka Tatsuya.  For every day of the year, for the past four years he has created miniature dioramas using everyday objects and tiny figures. In his imaginative world, almonds are surfboards, a cantaloupe is a globe, a fork is a slide, an aluminum can is a swimming hole and thumb tacks are to be harvested. You can follow him every day throughout 2017 right here.  As you will soon appreciate finding just one image to feature here was extremely difficult. So here's another one : La La Land with broccoli.


New Light on Old Media Issue 32, February 2017
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