The Magic Lantern Society  

New Light on Old Media  

Welcome to Issue 16 of New Light on Old Media
The Dubai Moving Image Museum was inaugurated in January 2014 and is the first and only museum in the Middle East devoted to the archaeology of the cinema.  It houses the private collection of Akram Miknas (a few exhibits shown above). The museum has just been shortlisted for Best Emerging Cultural Destination in the Middle East.
The award ceremony will take place on 9th October at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel in London.

This month we also take a brief look at the work of the British artist Mat Collishaw and, if like me, you're an old hippy, shed a nostalgic tear looking back at the psychedelic light shows of the 1960's.

If you would like to become a member of the Magic Lantern Society you can find details below.


Mervyn Heard, Editor

Mat Collishaw: In Camera


Mat Collishaw is a British artist based in London who is probably best known for his extraordinary baroque 3 dimensional zoetrope pictured below. If you haven't seen it in action follow the Youtube link.

Mat's newest work is on show at Birmingham Public Library from now until 10th January 2016.   In Camera is an instillation created around a series of 12 crime scene negatives made for the Birmingham City Police Force during the 1930s and 40s. The uncatalogued images were discovered by Mat within an archive of orphaned negatives whilst he was exploring the Library's internationally renowned photography collection during 2014.
Lantern Society member Robin Palmer has been assisting on aspects of the exhibition. He tells me that the negatives have been reproduced in phosphorescent ink onto large scale, illuminated, Perspex transparancies.

And there's more....

From now until 10th January the New Art Gallery in Walsall are staging a complete retrospective of Mat's work. All links are shown below

Mat Collishaw's zoetrope : All Things Fall

Mat Collishaw's website

Birmingham Public Library

The New Art Gallery, Walsall

 Mat in his studio with two of the biggest lanterns you may ever hope to see

Camera no longer Obscura


It's all happening in Birmingham

Two Birmingham based artists, Jenny Duffin and Pete Ashton’s have just launched a plan to introduce the entire citizenry to the wonder of the camera obscura.  They plan to install such devices in buildings throughout the city in the course of the next five years, and ultimately to establish a permanent camera obscura in the centre of Birmingham.

Their overall marshall plan can be viewed here.


How to Turn your Smartphone into a Hologram Projector


Pepper's Ghost strikes again!
3D Holograms at your fingertips with the aid of an upturned plastic pyramidical gizmo.

Follow this link to the Youtube tutorial the world has been waiting for.




The light-storm of visual effects which grace many major rock-concerts today have their roots in the psychedelic light shows of the 1960s. Back then drug crazed hippies (like yours truly) enhanced live band concerts using liquid projections combining oil, water and glycerine, colour wheel effects and 16mm film clips.  The aim was to create a counterfeit hallucinogenic experience.  The Joshua Light Show in the USA (pictured above in glorious black and white) was a leading exponent of the art.
I recently came across a website devoted to the history and practice of the "60's analog light show" at
Liquid Light Lab 
There is much information to be found here on the art of psychedelic wizziness but if you're not that interested I implore you to scroll further down the welcome page and you'll come across various other fascinating incarnations of the synchronised music plus light experience.  Some much older than you might expect.

One wonderful machine is the Clavilux Ethereal Light Organ.  This was the invention of Thomas Wilfred c. 1919,
and produced, at each touch of the keys, projections of constantly changing colour forms.

A recent article on the Clavilux together with a modern video of the sort of effects produced can be found here.

Just rewinding to the 60's again, don't miss this brief excerpt from a speech by Ronald Reagan in which he cites the new innovation of the "light show" as a clear and present danger.
Ronald Reagan v The Hippies (1966)


The British School in Rome and the Sicilian Perspective



On the 3rd September the British School in Rome presented a magic lantern show using the handsome machine shown above, which the school has just had repaired after some fifty years of inactivity.

The inaugural presentation was a re-enactment of a lecture given in the BSR library in 1910 by the archaeologist Thomas Ashby recounting his trip to Lampedusa, Lampione and Linosa off the coast of Sicily in 1908. He was one of the first archeologists to explore these islands.  You can find out more about the restoration of the lantern and Ashby's unique slide collection on
the BRS site.

Photo : Thomas Ashby

 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 The Magic Lantern Society publishes a regular quarterly printed journal.  Members also meet on a regular basis in the UK and at other locations throughout Europe. Every four years we hold a major international convention in the UK.

For further information about the Society go to  

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




New Light on Old Media Issue 16, October 2015
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