Magic and the muse

A Magic Lantern spectacle featuring unique hand-painted images with live music.

Dr Joe Kember, Associate Professor in Film Studies, is the Principal Investigator on ‘A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning’, which is a Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage - Heritage Plus.

The magic lantern was the most important visual entertainment and means of instruction across nineteenth-century Europe. However, despite its pervasiveness across multiple scientific, educational and popular contexts, magic lantern slides remain under-researched. Although many libraries and museums across Europe hold tens of thousands of lantern slides in their collections, a lack of standards for documentation and preservation limits the impact of existing initiatives, hinders the recognition of the object’s heritage value and potential exploitation. This project addresses the sustainable preservation of this massive, untapped heritage resource.

As part of the final workshop on the project, a magic lantern show is taking place at the Barnfield Theatre, Exeter. Lanternists Jeremy and Carolyn Brooker, using an original 19th-century triple lantern, are collaborating with multi-instrumentalists Richard Navarro, Nicholas Thurston and Miriam Gould to present a unique combination of music, performance and projection. The show includes specially created images, original historic material, and a rare sequence of ‘pose slides’ projected onto a live performer, once used by the parents of the film actor Peter Sellers.

12 January 2018 at Barnfield Theatre, Exeter. 8pm in the Auditorium. Tickets: £14 (£12); groups – 11th ticket free.