The Magic Lantern Society  

New Light on Old Media  

Welcome to Issue 23 of New Light on Old Media


The image shown above represents the ultimate blend of ancient and modern media.
Here the two main adversaries from the latest blockbuster movie Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice  are reconfigured as characters in an Indonesian shadow show. The Malaysian based performance artists Fusion Wayang Kulit specialise in updating this 1000 year old traditional art form using characters from modern movies. In the past they have adapted Star Wars and Bruce Lee's films in a similar fashion. 
More about the company with more pictures here.

Mervyn Heard, Editor

The Old New World

Did you ever wish that some of the scenes captured in old photographs could somehow be given  life?  Alexey Zakharov is a Russian artist who has skilfully animated a number of American postcards from the early part of the 20th century within the context of a trip in a steam-punk styled time machine. The wonderful finished movie The Old New World can be seen here.

The Underground Scene in London

The mid-19th century saw a rise in popularity in the paper peep-show. This was thanks in part to two spectacular building works The Great Exhibition (1851) and prior to that, the opening of the Thames Tunnel in 1843, heralded as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’.  Indeed great crowds paid a visit to admire this former great feat of engineering which was devised by Marc Brunel and his promising young son Isambard. The most impressive feature was the grand entrance hall. Now after being derelict for many years the space has been reopened as a concert venue. This link will take you to a page full of original Victorian imagery alongside views of the new development .


The Tarot of Osman Spare

Courtesy © 2016 The Magic Circle

Question: Would you regard tarot card reading as a form of picture show entertainment on a par with a lantern show or even a movie? If not, why not? It is after all, in much the same way, a series of pictures manipulated by the exhibitor to construct an absorbing narrative.   There are many designs for tarot decks on the market, ranging from the mysterious and surreal to the downright cheesy, much dependent on the style of the presenter. 

 Jonathan Allen is curator of the Magic Circle Museum in London. Within the collection there is a charming hand-drawn and virtually complete, but seldom seen, tarot deck designed by the Edwardian artist Austin Osman Spare.

Now this unique deck has been reproduced in book form.
 Lost Envoy - The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare is available here, direct from the publisher, Strange Attractor Press. This page also contains more information on this deck and tarot cards in general.


 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:


Carnival in Venice


Back in February one of Europe's leading lanternist's Laura Minici Zotti, director of the Museo del Precinema in Padova, presented a show for the Fondazione Querini Stampalia in Venice as part of the annual Carnival.  This performance La Magica Lanterna e i suoi tempi (The Magic Lantern in its Time) is now viewable online, with an Italian commentary.  Also featured at the end of this sequence is a screening of Georges Méliès charming short film,La Lanterne Magique  from 1903.

La Lanterne Magique, 1903


Shanghai Surprise



The panorama still holds a fascination for many people and the technology continues to develop. A company called The Big Pixel Studio recently released a fantastic panoramic photograph of the Shanghai waterfront, which they describe as "China's first 10 billion pixel panoramic photo" (Actually 24.9 billion pixels). It has such a depth of clarity that it enables the viewer to home in on tiny aspects of the scene and reveal intimate details of individuals going about their everyday lives. In this particular case someone with too much time on their hands spotted this chap standing stark naked in a hotel window talking on a mobile phone.
You can contemplate this amazing panorama here .
Or if you prefer to play 'Where's Wally?' (or maybe in this case 'Where's Willy?') maybe you can locate the man in the picture for yourself.  When you get bored this link will give you a sniper's view.

For more information on the panorama itself you should go here, where you will also find a short piece of film footage of a busy Shanghai street. This was shot in 1901 and is believed to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, film to come out of China.


And from nearby* Hannoi


This image of a Vietnamese shadow lantern was discovered by Lantern Society member Pierre Patau in a museum in Hanoi. It's an object of indeterminate age but highlights once again the strength of the East's association with the shadow show.

By the way....I am always happy to receive photographs of strange and particularly unfathomable optical items unearthed in distant collections.

*A mere 1,400 miles


New Light on Old Media Issue 23, May 2016
Copyright © 2016 The Magic Lantern Society, All rights reserved.

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