Panoramas of the Moving Image: Mechanical Slides and Dissolving Views from Nineteenth-Century Magic Lantern Shows streaming
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Mechanical glass slides were manipulated to simulate various kinds of change in the image, and multiple projectors allowed for superimposed and dissolving views. Brightly colored, handcrafted slides, depicting human activity, fantasy figures, and landscapes, were typically presented with live narration, music, and sound effects, in what became popular by the 1870s as Magic Lantern shows. Experimental media artist Ernie Gehr’s Panoramas of the Moving Image (2005) is a synchronized five-channel video installation that uses eighty-seven original slides and views selected from Gehr’s personal collection and that of renowned pre-cinema collector David Francis. Projected side by side, the slides create a mesmerizing wide-screen spectacle. A selection of vintage paper Zoetrope strips and Phenakistiscope discs—complementary artifacts of nineteenth-century moving-image technology—are also on display.