Photo by Sarah Podles

On the Nature of Fire (2010)

Starring Aimee Duddridge & Graham Austin.

Installation at Herbst Pavillion, Fort Mason, San  Francisco, CA. Part of the 2010 San Francisco Art  Institute Graduate Show.

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.