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. Sea also: How to digitise slides?
LUCERNA is an online resource on the magic lantern, an early slide projector invented in the 17th century. LUCERNA includes details of slide sets, slide images, readings and other texts related to slide sets, lantern hardware, people and organisations involved in lantern history, and much more
eLaterna - Historical Art of Projection is a new research platform, created by the project The Fundamentals of Digitalisation of Works in the Historical Art of Projection, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It constitutes a major basis to understand the history of the magic lantern, the screen and the art of projection in historical context. The examination tools of eLaterna show the glass slides as material objects for investigation and enable the comparison with other lantern slides. The digital content can be accessed together with all the relevant metadata. Mechanical details are documented by photographs and video.
Lantern slide performances produced complex multimedia, multi-sensory experiences for their audiences which can now historically inform our understanding of the collective experience of contemporary new media technologies. As well, they left behind large collections of glass slides in a wide variety of institutions large and small. Although neglected until now because they do not fit easily into traditional museum and gallery taxonomies, these slides have the potential to provide an exciting new archival resource for historians, curators and artists. This Australian Research Council Discovery Project investigates the variety of contexts in which lantern slides were shown and the breadth of the stories told through this media.
The aim of this project is to compile all media-historical, methodological, and media-technological principles relevant for the digitisation of the handed-down works of the historical art of projection and to gather them permanently on an international web portal. The research project lays the foundation for the further exploration of the historical art of projection and offers interested scholars in the humanities and social sciences both a permanent access to documents, artefacts, and lores, and a continuously present reconstruction of the sequence of images in coordination with music, text, and song.
“Projecting Knowledge”, a project by Frank Kessler, will elucidate the role of the magic lantern in the transmission and dissemination of knowledge. Adding “showing” to “telling”, the lantern allowed to share visual information with an entire auditorium and to present scientific information in challenging ways never seen before. It transformed both teaching and public lecturing comparable to the changes brought about by computer programmes such as PowerPoint. Three subprojects will, respectively, analyse the scope of public illustrated lectures aimed at the general audience, the didactic use of projected images in academic teaching, and the background of individual lecturers and scientists who were active in the field of public engagement with the help of the lantern. The synthesis will provide a comprehensive history of the lantern’s role in science communication and dissemination from 1880, when the lantern became a mass medium, to the beginning of the Second World War. The goal of the project is to analyse the didactic affordances of the lantern, the science communication strategies that it made possible, and the public image of science that resulted from this.