Starring Aimee Duddridge & Graham Austin.
The Magic Lantern was a pre-cinematic device that worked in a similar way to contemporary slide projectors. At the height of its popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries, the lantern anticipated photography and film as mass entertainment, and directly engaged with scientific theories of its day. “On the Nature of Fire” takes its name from Emilie Du Chatelet’s 1737 essay documenting her scientific experiments into the nature of light. Du Chatelet, who translated Newton’s theories into French and who was well respected as a mathematician and physicist, was largely forgotten by the end of the 18th century. This video piece works within the time frame of the age of enlightenment, when art, entertainment, science and magic all stood under the same alchemical light. Using the history of optics as a narrative guide, this video investigates hidden histories, revealing to the viewer the construction not only of the images projected (through the play between real and unreal elements) and the mechanics used to project them, but also the workings of the human imagination and it’s (growing) reliance on technology.
To accompany this video I made a mock playbill which I letter press printed on newsprint.