There are many ways to think about optics and light today. A bit of history is always intriguing. Especially when it is interpreted in a bright new …
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There are many ways to think about optics and light today. A bit
of history is always intriguing. Especially when it is interpreted
in a bright new way in a show that would offer a great holiday
Once upon a time, there were no motion picture shows, but people
gathered in a darkened space to be entertained or educated with
projections of photos and drawings from around the world, projected
through a Magic Lantern, especially in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. Illumination was first by candle or oil lamp, then by
electric light bulb when it became available.
Lonnie Hanzon, “Wizard in Residence,” creative director of the
Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood, is internationally recognized
for his highly detailed maximalist art installations. The artist,
inventor, philosopher and showman was naturally drawn to a
collection of nearly 1,000 magic lantern slides at an
archaeologist’s estate auction, an art form unfamiliar, but
“Magic Lantern,” a solo exhibit by Hanzon, is described as an
installation that “celebrates obsolete media in a digital age.” He
brings modern technology to the fore in designing a really
fascinating showcase for his Victorian era slides, an assortment of
serious-looking black magic lantern projectors, a sound gallery,
“Obsolete Audibles,” with a tape of sounds we no longer hear, and
some early 20th century silent movies.
Museum executive director, Cynthia Madden Leitner, explained the
role of the museum: “Art reflects history. Lonnie’s application of
Magic Lantern brings obsolete art into modern technology, renewing
it and keeping it alive. It follows his work in discovering archaic
media to interact with today’s audiences.”
Wall text is worth reading for the history buff because Hanzon’s
research took him back to fifth century China and Japan, where
entertainment with candlelight and polished brass disk created
simple images. Documents dating to 1589 speak of a lantern built in
1420, using candle illumination.
Hanzon’s history continues through the centuries to traveling
projectionists, “Galantee Showmen” or “Savoyards” in the United
Kingdom, akin to traveling players. Fast forward to today’s slide
lectures at your school or library.
The move to moving pictures started with photographer Eadweard
Muybridge, who set up a series of 24 cameras to record a horse race
in sequence, then went on to record movement of animals and
Kodak camera founder George Eastman worked on film, and inventor
Thomas Edison improved a motion picture camera and shot film that
premiered in 1896 in New York.
“Magic Lantern,” runs through Feb. 13. Admission is free. Hours:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Fridays. Call 303-806-0444 or visit www.moaonline.org
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