The Magic Lantern Society  

New Light on Old Media  

Welcome to Issue 13 of New Light on Old Media

Thanks are due to Pierre Patau who sent me a link to the image featured above and to the work of a  shadow theatre company called Teatro Dondolo who were creating innovative performancs in the late 19th century. The company has now been re-invented.  Take a look at the first item below.

Before you do, this is just to let you know that New Light has been up and running for a full year now, so we thought it was time for a few minor changes. Firstly, you will now find links to the Magic Lantern Society's Twitter and Facebook accounts at the bottom of the page and, secondly, because I'm starting to get more welcome feedback, a brief update feature. So let me know if you have any follow up items.

If you would like to finally take the plunge and join the Magic Lantern Society you will also find the usual information on how to do that at the bottom of the page.


Mervyn Heard,

Teatro Dondolo


 The original shadow show company Teatro Dondalo was formed at the end of the 19th century as a travelling collective of puppeteers, artists and musicians (see image at the top of the page). From Urbino in Italy they travelled throughout Europe presenting their peculiar plays in non-traditional venues - old fishing houses, and even on fairground carousels.   In 2011 after researching the company's history, the Swedo-Belgian born artist Oona Libens re-established the group with the focus now on the moving image and employing a variety of analogue techniques : shadowplay, reflections, toy theatre and machines.
The company still favour non-traditional venues. During the winter and spring of 2014 they devised and presented their newest show -Nausea - in an old fishing house on the island of Senja in Northern Norway and you can view a brief trailer for the show, with its very funny English narrative here on Vimeo.  For more on the project and the company's work visit the Teatro Dondolo site



Essential Reading : Summer Sale


STOP PRESS : 1st July until the 30 September 2015 you can buy selected Magic Lantern Society publications at reduced prices.

Encyclopaedia of the Magic Lantern  reduced from £45 to £25
Realms of Light  reduced from £35 to £20
Servants of Light  reduced from £17.50 to £12.50
The Temple of Minerva  reduced from £40 to £30

These are the charges for non members. Members benefit from further reductions!

For more on this offer go




This is the last in a series of four publications by the University of Westminster tracing the history of the Regent Street Polytechnic building which it inhabits from its inception in 1838. 

This latest volume The Magic Screen deals with the venues associations with photographic processes and the cinema, and its publication coincides with the recent re-opening of the building as a 21st century venue for art films in particular, as noted in the last issue of this e-letter.

You can obtain a copy for just £20 direct from University of Westminster publications and if you are not familiar with other books in the series discover and access those too.


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 combined newsletter and 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:


The Amish Experience


The American Magic-Lantern Theatre has been entertaining audiences throughout the USA and other countries with their rousing entertainments for over two decades. Terry Borton, who founded the company with his wife Debbie, is one of the best lantern showmen around and rightly acknowledged by National Public Radio as a living national treasure.

Recently the AM-LT were invited to establish a permanant lantern attraction in the heart of the Amish community in Pennsylvania.  The Amish Experience has been running for over half a century, but now it is has its own theatre dedicated to the magic lantern with a repertoire covering a Bible Stories Show, Patriotic Show and Christmas Entertainment.  You can discover more about the development of this project on the Amish Experience site

 For a long overdue link to the American Magic-Lantern Theatre and their activities go here


Le petit chef


Back in the 16th century the Italian polymath Gianbattista della Porta reputedly projected images of battles from his garden, via a camera obscura, onto the dinner table for the amusement of his guests.
Here is a modern update using projection mapping, not as usually witnessed on a grand scale, but on a bite-size scale.


Adopt a Slide : a participatory art work

The Visual Resources Centre at Manchester School of Art is under imminent threat of closure with the loss of all of its lantern slides and 35mm material. Some students and academics regard this as an outstanding visual and material resource. It comprises 300,000 slides and documents gathered over 50 years of responding to the needs and interests of teaching staff and students.  So should it all be saved?

In order to draw attention to the issue Adopt a Slide is a blog-based participatory artwork designed to collect responses to the slide collection. Over 40 staff and students have already taken part, finding their own stories and sharing them with the world.

You can personally join in efforts to form a connection with the collection by searching for a meaningful image and responding to it. You will then be the appointed guardian of this one small historic artefact. 

There is more on the project with examples of how individual images have inspired stories and other accounts on this site.



In the last issue we carried an item about the magic lantern exhibition at the Waseda Museum in Japan. Most of the information was in Japanese.
Machiko Kusahara, Professor in the Department of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University there has now posted a concise account of the archaeology of the moving image in Japan in English together with more pictures.   
Here is the link.



New Light on Old Media Issue 13, July 2015
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