EYES WIDE SHUDDER
The arcane magic of pre-cinema optical illusions is the subject of a fascinating new exhibition, Eyes Lies and Illusions.
Researcher SAIGE WALTON explains it to PAUL ANDREW.
Witch mirrors, devilry Shadow Lanterns, ghouls, skeletons, trickster illusions, cryptographic pictures and paranormal phantoms sounds more like an episode of Buffy than centuries of science. A visit to Eyes, Lies and Illusions reveals that "pre-cinema” and magic seem to go hand in hand. And according to ACMI researcher Saige Walton the most magical aspect of this new exhibition is the strange world of pre-digital science.
"How do you define pre cinenma? That's the whole point of this show", reveals Walton, "the history of perception - in terms of how it intersects with art and science - suggests on one hand we strive to realistically document the world; on the other we use those same technologies to bend, distort or scramble our perception into fantastic and spectacular forms. What is magical is that there's a real 'science' to magic just as there is a strong magical element to scientific discovery. It opens up human perception up to new understandings." mehr...
Relics reveal more than meets the eye
Robert Nelson Reviewer
An enormous collection of optical curiosities has been brought to Melbourne. It is a whole history of visual technology.
There are mirrors, distorting rooms, projectors, oscillating slides, flip-images, technical books, binocular images, puppets, anamorphic images and holograms. These relics, mostly from the 19th century, stretch out in wonderful profusion in Eyes, Lies and Illusions.
The scope and effect of the various tools are amazing. Some are merely for entertainment, a bit like toys. Others reveal serious ways of capturing movement. The hope of recording the experience of movement became a credible project since the Enlightenment, as space had already been conquered pictorially by painters and illustrators.
Every trick in the visual trade is on display. Many of them are antecedents to film, that is, the moving image; and some even bear the title of "cinema", before the word came to mean a film theatre and the generic term for the movies. mehr...
The eyes have it
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the magnificent Eyes, Lies and Illusions exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) then you’re missing out on one of the best screen culture events of the year.
I swung by Federation Square on Sunday afternoon, assuming that I’d be able to skim through the exhibition in half an hour before getting to another show at the National Gallery of Victoria. Instead, I spent an engrossing two hours in slack-jawed, wide-eyed wonder.
Eyes, Lies and Illusions presents the pre-cinematic entertainments of the past, from the Renaissance to the Victorian era in a seven-part exhibition drawn from the collection of German experimental film-maker, professor and curator Werner Nekes, via London’s Hayward Gallery. Exploring the history of optical trickery, and a world of wonder that predates the modern moving image, this collection of magic lanterns and magic mirrors, camera obscura and praxinoscopes is truly a marvellous show. mehr...
Rich find in gold city
A 20-year worldwide hunt for a rare magic lantern has ended in a Ballarat antique shop. "I was shocked because I had been looking for so long," German collector and filmmaker Werner Nekes says of the rare mid-1800s image-projecting magic lantern by Andreas Kruess.
"I walked in and among all the porcelain and kitschy things, there it was standing.”
"It's quite a sensation. This is the only one I have ever seen. This lantern had disappeared ... it was one of the best lanterns of the time because of the optics.”
"It was standing in the shop for five years, waiting for me, that I kiss it."
The thick-lensed heavy wooden lantern, a forerunner of the cinema projector, now sits among 500 pieces from the Werner Nekes Collection at the Eyes, Lies and Illusions exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). mehr...