The Magic Lantern Society  

New Light on Old Media  

Welcome to Issue 10 of New Light on Old Media

The prominent items in this month's e-letter have originated through follow ups to responses from our growing number of subscribers, which is a trend I'd like to nurture, so contact me if you have anything you think we should know about.

The picture featured above was sent to me by Dr Martyn Jolly who is Head of Photography and Media Arts at the Australian National University. He created this projection piece for entrance to the National Library of Australia in Canberra. The image utilises just one hand-painted lantern slide in the library's large collection of views which were originally produced and used by the Reverend John Flynn in the early years of the last century for the new Australian Inland Mission  There is more to be found here.  This is the original image.

Finally our usual gentle reminder that should you wish
become a member of the Magic Lantern Society and receive our brand new journal -The Magic Lantern - just follow the link at the end of this e-letter.  

Mervyn Heard,

Yes folks, it's one of those


It is of course a Musical Art Bio-scope Phonograph. It comes from Mumbai and Nick Hiley sent me the link to the item on e-bay. The original posting is now extinct, but you can still buy the item if you go directly to the company's Old is Gold site. You can buy your own bespoke copy for a little over £340, plus £186 postage. When I first saw the device I thought it was just a piece of ornamental steam-punk paraphernalia. But it turns out that it does have some history and it works.  

There's a very entertaining short film on a similar peepshow in operation on YouTube


The Goya Phantasmagoria

There is a recurring discussion amongst academics as to whether the artist Francisco Goya, in creating his final 'black paintings' between 1820 and 1824, had been influenced by the public performances of Robertson's phantasmagoria in Madrid in 1821. Nothing can be proved but there are various similar flying creatures and shrouded figures, often emerging from pitch darkness.

Saturn devouring one of his sons (1820-2

Now there's a chance to judge for yourself. The current acclaimed exhibition             Goya: The witches and old women album is to be seen at London's Courtald Gallery. It runs until 25th May and you should access the press page, where you will find various useful downloadable pdfs.

Kircher's Theatre of the World


 This is a recently released but equally large and glossy paperback version of Joscelyn Godwin's  illustrated study of the life and works of Athenasius Kircher. Aside from his pioneering interest in the magic lantern and many other mechanical inventions, it gives valuable insight into the world as it was perceived in the mid 17th century.
Athanasius Kircher's Theatre of the World is available through Amazon at just over £20



More About the
Magic Lantern Society


If you have an interest in research or performance events involving the magic lantern or other forms of vintage visual media The Magic Lantern Society publishes a regular quarterly journal.  Our members also meet on a regular basis in the UK and intermittently at other locations throughout Europe. Every four years we hold a major international convention.

For further information about the Society visit our website:  

We also have a sister organisation The Magic Lantern Society of the US and Canada who may be found at this website:


Kaleidoscopic Encounters

Hot on the heels of the Cakeotrope (Issue 9) comes another interesting example of an optical device in unfamiliar surroundings. From May 28th-31st the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society will be holding their Convention in Covington Kentucky.
Their site features various magnificent examples of modern tubes as well as features on contemporary artists-in-kaleidoscopia.
Follow Robert and Ann Anderson who combine their twin interests in the kaleidoscope with gardening. 


And while were on the subject, Dick Balzer sent me a link to this item which shows a film made for the TedxSummit in 2012.  It features dancers in Busby Berkeley-esque 
 kaleidoscopic formation.

But the interesting thing for us is that it was all done the 'old school way' using with mirrors. The making of this 'human arabesque' can be found via this link.



 Pocko are a London based company who create a variety of animation and live theatre projects for various commercial companies and other organisations. Lately they produced this short film for the revolutionary ceramic design company Tanssi who sell through the iconic manufacturer iitalia.  It has an intentional old-style 2D appearance, drawing on shadow-show and magic lantern techniques. Reminiscent of Lotte Reiniger's work in the 1920s and 30s , it's charming and you can see it and read about it here.


Wide-eyed Amazement

The Grand Illusions website specialises in the sale of a variety of gizmos - some puzzling, some magical and some brain-expandingly optical. There is also a sidebar of articles on various curiosities. This month's online newsletter highlights a very strange contraption which enables you to see the world with the eye-span of an antelope!


You can find out more, buy one and access some of the other great gizmos on webmaster Hendrik Ball's mind-expanding site. Better still sign up for the monthly newsletter.

David Cameron : is he a hologram ?

 Back in 2014 the Indian politician Narendra Modi came up with a way of addressing a crowd of people in 100 different places at once during the national election campaign, using the increasingly familiar Musion Eyeliner System based on old Pepper's Ghost with modern holographic technology. There's more on the process here.

Narendra Modi, virtual politician

Anyway I began to wonder whether any of the parties involved in the UK elections in May had taken a look at this successful idea.  Nothing came directly to my attention - except for one reference made by the opposition party's leader, Ed Milliband, suggesting that David Cameron and the entire cabinet must be holograms, since they had no concept of reality.  But the best new holographic politician story concerns a particular politician from  New Zealand under the title 
ACT Leader: Not a Hologram. 
MP David Seymour who was accused of being a hologram for various reasons said he was prepared to have people touch him for "$5 a feel" to prove he wasn't.


New Light on Old Media Issue 10, April 2015
Copyright © 2015 The Magic Lantern Society, All rights reserved.

The reason you have been sent this e-mail is you are a member of the Magic Lantern Society or have subscribed to this list from the Magic Lantern Society Web Site

Our mailing address is:

If you no longer wish to receive this e-letter click on the unsubscribe link below

unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences