The Magic Lantern Society

New Light on Old Media

Welcome to Issue 34 of New Light on Old Media


Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux de Province in the south of France is a tourist attraction specialising in the creation of immersive art experiences, which you may judge to be either in very poor taste or utterly fabulous.  Their current exhibition incorporates the work of some of the most unsettling of the old masters - Bosch, Breughel and Arcimboldo and runs until 7 January 2018.  2000 digital images are projected onto 7,000 square metres of floor and wall space in a 30 minute presentation.  You can enjoy a brief taste of the experience here on their website.  Between shows there is an additional film tribute to the pioneer of fantasy cinema, Georges Méliès.  More on that here, where there are further on-site links to past presentations and visitor information in English, French and German.


Mervyn Heard : Editor

 Family ties

 City of Glass is a film-noir style stage drama directed by Leo Warner which opened in Manchester in March and is now due to go into the Lyric, Hammersmith, London on 15 April. Unlike most fusions of theatre and projection Leo Warner is also the creative director of projection mapping innovators 59 Productions. For this adaptation of Paul Auster's 1985 novella Warner's aim is for the technology not to merely enhance and supplement the action but take an intrinsic role in the drama. You can read a review of the Manchester performance here on The Guardian website and more about the company's previous theatre and alfresco projection mapping projects and techniques here on the 59 Productions website. 

It could be genetic.

Leo's father, Simon Warner, is a professional photographer and a specialist in recreating the delights of traditional silhouette shadow-portrait technique, adopting
the character of 18th century physiognomist Johann Caspar Lavater In addition Simon has recreated camera obscura installations for historic houses and ventures into other areas of associated historical re-enactment.  His performance portfolio can be found here. I should tell you that I have personally witnessed his participatory  silhouette work at various events from Halloween Balls to historical events and the queues stretch around the block.


Colonial Connections 


Elizabeth Hartrick's new book (provisional release date 20 April) explores the history and widespread use of the magic lantern in Australia and New Zealand. Elizabeth is an art historian, Associate Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and frequent contributor to Heritage in the Limelight, the Australian Research Council's ongoing study of lantern history in Australia. Elizabeth's book is available for pre-order direct from the publisher here.


Model performers

Mike Smith's book is possibly the first to showcase the various charming figurines produced during the 18th and 19th century depicting itinerant magic lantern and peep show exhibitors.  The examples are gleaned from the author's own and from similar, mainly private, collections. The book is available from 1 May and can be purchased direct from the author for £25 inclusive of postage from this address :
Mike Smith, South Park, Galphay Road, Kirkby Malzeard, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 3RX 
E-mail enquiries to

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 :

Salone Ludico

From 4-9 April the Salone Nazionale del Mobile di Milano invites visitors to discover and interact in playful ways with twelve projects "conceived as ludic antidotes to a world filled with screens".   Designed and developed by the Media Design Master of the HEAD—Genève, working with students of visual communication, the Salone Ludico hosts modern screenable curiosities which range  in scope from robotic interventions to a seedy games room offering updated parlour games of strategy and chance. One particular exhibit is shown above.  This is the Penumbra, described as "an interactive storytelling machine exploring the concept of time through the physical and ephemera."  As players turn the handle clockwise and anti-clockwise a character moves forward and backward in time, generating a short story.  You can see it in operation here on Vimeo.  Historians of early cinema may recognise its effects  as having more than a passing and pleasing resemblance to  those achieved by Charles-Émile Reynaud with his interactive Théâtre Optique of 1892. 

More on the Salone Ludico here.

L'Illusion de Joseph

This has been attracting attention on Vimeo for a little while now, although I've only just caught up with it.  It takes the form of an affectionate tribute to Joseph Plateau, Belgian physicist and inventor in 1832 of the phenakistoscope. The film was created and directed by Pask D'Amico
for Klesha productions.


Ghost Signs


Ghost signs are all around us. These are the faded painted remnants of past businesses which you can often just about make out if you look high up on the walls of our towns and cities. Last September, the London Design Festival  hosted a transatlantic collaboration between US based experiential designer, Craig Winslow, and London based Ghostsigns' Sam Roberts to bring the capital's pre-neon advertisements back to life using projection. This concept has now been developed into a ghostsign app with a walking tour.  Footage and more information can be found here.  There is also a short background essay and blog here on the development of London's old street signs.


The Icing on the Cake

Fancy a projection-mapped wedding cake?  Of course you do. Here you can discover just a few animated examples available from a company based in Ipswich, England.
Just in case you think I'm getting some form of kickback from promoting Angiescottcakes, feel free to seek out and access many other renditions of this new international art-form across the net - if you want to.


Cheap trips to Mars 


In closing I thought I'd just share with you my favourite picture of the moment.  With all the recent talk of space tourism (the Golden Spike Company  in America  is currently charging $750 million for a seat on their rocket to the moon) you will no doubt be appalled to note the rate of galloping inflation. This picture gleaned from the wobbly wide web shows that in the 1920s you could avail yourself of a trip all the way to Mars and back for just 10 cents at selected outlets. Better still - you could eat candyfloss at the same time.


New Light on Old Media Issue 34, April 2017
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