Magic Lantern

As I mentioned in a previous post (click), for the 170 years of Art & Design event I’ll be using Photoshop to alter images and make them look like they’re being projected by a ‘Magic Lantern’. In order to find out more, I did some research on the subject..

Magic lanterns, provided one of the most popular forms of entertainment during 18th and 19th century, establishing many of the first 2-D special effects. They are a part of the marvellous world of optical projection and stand alongside the Camera Obscura, Shadow Shows and the Magic Mirror. Using an artificial light source and a combination of lenses, these devices enlarged small transparency images or miniature models and projected them onto a wall or screen.


 I also had a chance to see a real Magic Lantern as pictured above which is stored at the university.

The Pavement Artist by C. F. Cembrano (c.1890) source:


Victorian girl magic lantern slide, early 1800’s – source


A 19th-Century Black-and-White Lantern Slide – source

I especially like the mysterious, unclear, ghostly look the very early projected images have. The monochrome as well as sepia tints along with blurred edges give off a feeling of nostalgia and show the old-style sophistication. I find the authentic look very artistic and pleasing to the eye.

A Hand-Coloured Lantern Slide of Antoine-Jean Gros’s Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Plague Stricken at Jaffa, 1804 – source

Hand Colored Magic Lantern Glass Slide of a Rocky Mountain Scene, 1990s – source

The slides were frequently tinted with transparent colours to enhance the effect on the screen or even hand coloured as seen above.



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