The Magic Lantern

“The magic lantern was one of the first visual mass media. It was used for visual communication in education, religion and politics, but also in science and art”, explains Prof. Kurt Vanhoutte (UAntwerp).

Scientists and entertainers, teachers and priests, political movements and organisations: they all used projected visual narratives to inform, entertain, educate and mobilize audiences of up to more than a thousand people per occasion. The lantern was the first visual mass medium to contest the printed word as a primary mode of information and instruction. All layers of society, both literate and illiterate, received visual information about nature, religion, science, new technologies and foreign countries.

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