Tragic Drowning Fatality

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‘Tragic Drowning Fatality’, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

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‘Tragic Drowning Fatality’, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

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‘Tragic Drowning Fatality’, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

Tragic Drowning Fatality, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

Tragic Drowning Fatality, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

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‘Tragic Drowning Fatality’, Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter

Some images taken by Alex Hobba of the magic lantern performance ‘Tragic Drowning Fatality’ performed by Martyn Jolly and Alexander Hunter at Siteworks 2016, Bundanon, with: thirty original magic lantern slides from the 1880s to the 1920s; two JW Steward magic lanterns from the 1880s dissolving one slide projection into another; members of the ANU Experimental Music Ensemble (Ben Harb, Andrew Ryan, Jack Livingston and Chloe Hobbs) on double bass, guitar and percussion; and actors from the region (Kez and Libby Thompson, Peter Lavelle and Clare Jolly) reading verbatim coronial testimony of an actual double drowning that happened in the Shoalhaven River in 1922.

@heritageinthelimelight

 

Photos of my magic lantern show at Canberra Obscura

The estimable Andrew Sikorski has posted some shots of my magic lantern performance (along with Andromeda is Coming) amongst his documentation of the Canberra Obscura Art Party on his site Life in Canberra.

You can see me using my own latest technological innovation in projection which I call ‘a bit of cardboard with a hole in it’. Derived from the ‘burning in tool’ of the traditional darkroom printer, the ‘bit of cardboard with a hole in it’ held over the lantern lens spotlights details and narrativises the slides like Ken Burns did with his (now infamous) ‘Ken Burns effect’ in such landmark ‘archivally based’ documentary series  as  his The Civil War of 1990. I was also inspired to use the ‘bit of cardboard with a hole in it’ by the author of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He came to Australia in 1920 on a magic lantern tour to show people photographic evidence that the dead returned from beyond the veil. In Adelaide, according to Doyle’s account on page 76 of his book Wanderings of a Spiritualist, ghosts literally inhabited the machine and took over the magic lantern to demonstrate the proof of their survival:

I had shown a slide the effect of which depended upon a single spirit face appearing amid a crowd of others. This slide was damp, and as photos under these circumstances always clear from the edges when placed in the lantern, the whole centre was so thickly fogged that I was compelled to admit that I could not myself see the spirit face. Suddenly, as I turned away, rather abashed by my failure, I heard cries of “There it is”, and looking up again I saw this single face shining out from the general darkness with so bright and vivid an effect that I never doubted for a moment that the operator was throwing  a spotlight upon it. … [N]ext morning Mr Thomas, the operator, who is not a Spiritualist, came in in great excitement to say that a palpable miracle had been wrought, and that in his great experience of thirty years he had never known a photo dry from the centre, nor, as I understood him, become illuminated in such a fashion.

 

Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with 'Andromeda is Coming'

Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

 

 

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

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Andrew Sikorski, Canberra Obscura, Martyn Jolly with ‘Andromeda is Coming’

Australian Research Council funding for Heritage in the limelight: the magic lantern in Australia and the world

The ARC has funded a three year Discovery Project I will lead. The project aims to discover and analyse the large number of glass magic lantern slides that remain under-used in our public collections. International scholarship has recently begun to show that lantern slide shows were a ubiquitous, globalised and formative cultural experience. The project aims to explore the international reach and diversity of this globalised modernist apparatus from the Australian perspective. It plans to understand how diverse audiences affectively experienced these powerful forms of early media, and to develop ways for today’s Australians to re-experience their magic, invigorating and expanding our cultural heritage.

The team is Dr Martyn Jolly and Associate Professor Martin Thomas Australian National University; Professor Jane Lydon, University of Western Australia; Professor Nicolas Peterson and Professor Paul Pickering, Australian National University; Associate Professor Joe Kember, University of Exeter, UK.

With scholars like that we are guaranteed to find amazing material around Australia, and do wonderful things with it, in terms of identification, critical analysis and re-presentation. It’s also great that we will be working  with the European project A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning. And I’m also looking forward to working even more with my friends from the lantern slide fraternity around Australia and the world. I can’t wait. I’m also really looking forward to picking up steam in my other ARC Discovery Project led by Dr Daniel Palmer, Monash University,’ Photography Curating in the Age of Photosharing’.

'In the Hurly Burly', detail from Salvation Army Melbourne War Cry, 1894

‘In the Hurly Burly’, detail from Salvation Army Melbourne War Cry, 1894

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Profiled in United States Magic Lantern Society News, October 2014

Sarah Dellmann, from the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, kindly profiled my research in the newsletter of the Magic Lantern Society of the United Stats and Canada. The relevant pages are below. The newsletters of both the UK and US societies are always chock full of interesting stuff, and as Sarah demonstrates connect enthusiasts and collectors and researchers.

Magic Lantern Society News, October 2014

Magic Lantern Society News, October 2014

Magic Lantern Society News, October 2014

Magic Lantern Society News, October 2014

Magic Lantern Society Newsletter

Newton’s squidgy-vision.

I have Kevin Miller to thank for leading me to this wonderful page from one of Isaac Newton’s notebooks. At the same time as he was producing colour by refracting light with glass Newton was also perceiving colour by directly palpating his own eyeball with a wooden bodkin and deforming the wet squishy sphere, thereby putting direct physical pressure on the sensitive interior surface and sending signals which the brain interpreted as light and colour.

I tooke a bodkine gh & put it betwixt my eye & [the] bone as neare to [the] backside of my eye as I could: & pressing my eye [with the] end of it (soe as to make [the] curvature a, bcdef in my eye) there appeared severall white darke & coloured circles r, s, t, &c. Which circles were plainest when I continued to rub my eye [with the] point of [the] bodkine, but if I held my eye & [the] bodkin still, though I continued to presse my eye [with] it yet [the] circles would grow faint & often disappeare untill I removed [them] by moving my eye or [the] bodkin.

If [the] experiment were done in a light roome so [that] though my eyes were shut some light would get through their lidds There appeared a greate broade blewish darke circle outmost (as ts), & [within] that another light spot srs whose colour was much like [that] in [the] rest of [the] eye as at k. Within [which] spot appeared still another blew spot r espetially if I pressed my eye hard & [with] a small pointed bodkin. & outmost at vt appeared a verge of light.

 Had glass and the newly discovered laws of diffraction written the soul, the spirit and the imagination out of vision, he worried? No, because colour could be produced in vision by something other than the vitreous diffraction of light in either eye or prism. From our point of view his experiment at least established that the body, if not the soul, was deeply implicated in vision. But his notebook drawing of his heroic experiment, which Kevin and I found  at a Cambridge University Library online exhibition Footprints of the Lion: Isaac Newton at Work, is wonderful: the tiny hand inserts the bodkin, the sphere is indented like a foot kicking a football in a Harold Edgerton photograph, the concentric circumferences of the origins of the rings of colour are plotted on the retina, but then! — a virtual projection of what he perceived is projected out of the eye into the world. The eye is therefore not only a camera obscura but also a magic lantern! Virtuality, about to stage a comeback with the Oculus Rift is predicted!

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Art Gallery of New South Wales Dark Matter symposium: expand our discussion of the enterprise and the apparatus too!

The Art Gallery of New South Wales’s symposium Dark Matter succeeded in expanding the category of ‘photographer’ and ‘photography’, as set out in Geoffrey Batchen’s keynote, and deepened by Kitty Hauser’s and Michael Aird’s talks. Certainly the idea of photograph, right from its invention, always had multiple forms and multiple authors — from the wood cut to the literary simile. And intrepid chameleon daguerreotypists followed imperial, cosmopolitan and global vectors of trade winds and population ‘rushes’. But the way we talk about the technological apparatus also needs to be expanded, from just ‘camera’ and ‘photograph’, to spectacle and phenomena. One of Geoff Batchen’s examples, J. W. Newland, for instance, was certainly one of Australia’s most important daguerreotypists, pausing for most of 1848 in Sydney and Hobart, during an almost decade long swing from London, through America and the Pacific and back via Calcutta. He certainly made significant daguerreotypes and exhibited a stock of two hundred cosmopolitan portraits in his George Street Gallery. But he was, at the same time, and as part of exactly the same enterprise, a lanternist, exhibiting colour and optical enlargement and light itself as a phenomenon. We need to generate the theoretical capacity to also include this in the framework of our discussions. For instance my imagination has long been stirred by this report of a Newland lantern show at Maitland, first brought to my attention in Elizabeth Hartrick’s PhD on the lantern in Australian Consuming Illusions.

Maitland Mercury and  Hunter River General Advertiser 9/8/48 p2

Exhibition of Dissolving Views

On Monday evening, at the Northumberland Hotel, Mr. Newland gave his first exhibition of dissolving views and chromatropes, and of objects shown by the oxy-hydrogen microscope. Seventeen views and three chromatropes were first given; of these views several were very good, amongst the best being Inside of Caen Cathedral, Mount of Olives, Tintern Abbey, view near Paris, and capital representations of Punch, before and after dinner; the first and third chromatrope were also very beautiful, and of the most dazzling effect. The whole of these scenes, as well as the displays which followed, were thrown on a screen of prepared linen, placed upright at one end of the room, and occupying its whole height and nearly its breadth. Some specimens of minute objects in natural history, including a mosquito, placed before the lens of a powerful oxy-hydrogen microscope, were then shown; of these the most surprising objects were-the specimens of lace and fine linen, and the most beautiful were the wings of dragon-flies and moths; but a display followed of live weevils, whose extraordinary size and quick and ferocious movements almost gave rise to feeling of fear in the mind. Several wild beasts, birds, &c. were then shown on the canvas, illuminated, but not enlarged!. Another series of eighteen views and three chromatropes followed, of equal beauty to the first; several were particularly good, and amongst them were A Vine Press House in Lorraine, Army and Navy, Mount Vesuvius by day   and by night, Sligo Cathedral, Lion’s Head, Shirbrook Bridge, and the Kent. East India man, in a gale and on fire. The chromatropes were again of most dazzling effect and brilliant colors. The exhibition concluded with an illumination of the room by the Drummond light: the room was too small to fully show the power of the light, but the operator tested its intense heat by burning in it a gimblet, which he actually burnt into three pieces, the iron giving out brilliant sparks just before separating. The whole exhibition was of first-rate character, excepting the figures of beasts and birds, and Mr. Newland showed great skill in the gradual fading away of one view and encroachment on it of the succeeding one, until one had finally disappeared, and the other was revealed. In ail its beauty. The audience was not numerous, we were sorry to observe, for the exhibition well deserved a crowded room. Last evening the exhibition was repeated, the audience being more numerous. The exhibition will also be given again this evening and to-morrow, and we can assure our readers that if they attend they will not leave disappointed.