Entertainment in a Form of Magical Performance

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Through the years, people have found many ways to entertain themselves way before the films or animations appeared. They have endeavored to capture the motion even since cave painting where we could see illustrations of animals with multiple legs representing the movement of an animal. Many 19th century optical toys were really delightful to the audience as they created the illusion of motion from still images. The Magic Lantern was invented in the 17th century and it is 'the ancestor' of the slide projector, one of the oldest mechanism, capable to show images on a wall or on a screen, preceding, with a few centuries the cinema. However, there are still a few arguments about who the inventor of the magic lantern is, some people tend to consider it is all about Roger Bacon, who, is a philosopher and a scientist, but others insist in believing it was Athanase KircherIn, a German Jesuit monk and encyclopedist spirit. Even though most of the people tend to put all the compliments for the magic lantern on the shoulders of a Dutch physician named Christian Huygens. He inverted the principle of the Camera Obscura, in 1656 (17th century), by the placing of a candle in a dark space. Between the lens and the light beam, on a transparent surface, he manages to obtain a reversed image. Therefore, a magic lantern consists from a light source, a painted glass plate, and a convergent lens. In this way, the light was able to go through the painted plate and then through the lens, it was possible to project an image on the wall, but a reverse image.

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The painted glass plates were usually provided with some mechanisms which could allow the image to be animated but just animate them partially. Huygens is the greatest creator of the first moving image, representing a skeleton moving its body in different ways to create an animation. The motion consisted of the skeleton moving its body in a weird manner almost like waves but the head standing still. Those movements were inspired from the painting named 'The Dance of Death' made by the German artist Hans Holbein, a reason for why the magic lantern was called, at the beginning, the spooky lantern or the miracle lantern. For more powerful effects, some artists used smoke to give the impression of levitating silhouettes, in the middle of the room. In the 18th century, the phantasmagoria was really popular with the young people and even older. Those effects were realized with the help of the magic lantern, there were several shows where the audience had to enter a room filled with complete darkness almost at the point where it was already scary for them as they couldn't have a clear vision of anything. In the rooms, all they could see were some really bizarre and spooky images like silhouettes reflected by the magic lantern to create motion and look like the audience are experiencing scary and real moments. This allowed the magic lantern to become very popular in these years. Most of the specialists in this domain believe that the idea of this magic lantern had its origins from the old Chinese theatre where they use shadows to create a show that was very enjoyable in antic Epoca but also in later epochs.

The French philosopher Rene Descartes also known as the 'Father Of Modern Philosophy', before the Duch Christian Huygens, being passionate about this magic images obtained with the help of technical means, when he was in Amsterdam, used to surprise his friends and his guests by projecting some strange images with soldiers, in natural size, who were crossing the room, effect that was obtained with the help of a dark room, a light source, and a concave mirror. This concluded him to be seen as an excellent theorist who would set new directions. Later on, the Magic Lantern, perfected and sold by the French optician Philip Carpenter, became a more attractive means of transmitting various political, social, cultural events, to date, often exaggerating the serious or fun side of the news through the painted images –such as an expedition to the North Pole, a visit of the emperor or the king, in who knows which region, a battle won, an epidemic of cholera –all were drawn and offered to the public. In aristocratic environments or in popular funfairs, the Magic lantern provided enchanting, funny or enigmatic screenings, ghosts, stories, everything that human imagination could create, in black and white or color. In the 19th century, the magic flashlight was invented with a dual lens, which allowed combining images, creating the impression that it passes from day to night, from summer to winter, blurring the light for objective A, while growing in Intensity for objective B. Moreover, in the 1860s, scientists noticed that a light-sensitive plate or strip could be rotated and positioned in front of the lens as it was put in front or the way of a light that was exposed to make and capture an image. Therefore, this made the slides projected as several images in a short period of time to create a movie or clip. The cinematography is known as the illusion of movement as someone project in a rapid manner the still images. This term can also be known as motion pictures or movies pictures. Gradually, the magic lantern has also become popular in the schools.

It is said that in 1791, the six-year-old son of Marie Antoinette (Queen of France, married to Louis XVI), in the presence of his preceptor, was strongly complaining to his mother that the study of grammar is extremely dull. He understood what he taught, but when it was about applying knowledge, he could not concentrate. In these circumstances, the preceptor had the idea (which made it to history) to use the Magic Lantern, as a pedagogical instrument, drawing and writing information on glass plates, stimulating, in this way, the attention and curiosity of children –a means of Very modern, captivating learning with great impact on visual memory. The French Cinemateca possesses one of the most beautiful collections of painted plates for the Magic Lantern, consisting of over 17, 000 pieces, dating from the 18th-20th centuries, coming from several countries such as France, Great Britain, Germany, United States of America, etc. expanding in topics of the most diverse fields such as travels, sciences, religion, politics, history, fine arts, life, dailies, love scenes, fairytale characters and many more. These are hardly accessible to the great public, given their fragility and the fact that they are hand-painted, but have been reconditioned and multiplied at the occasion of celebrating this invention, in 2009, in France, as a gesture of recognition of a brilliant idea, without the appearance of the film would probably have been left waiting. At the end of the 19th and 20th century, the magic lanterns were very popular and then started to appear more frequently and used in churches, homes, schools, halls and large theatres. They served many purposes from being toys for children, therefore, would come in small sizes to projectors in big halls and theatres which would be bigger and double-lens machines lit with 'limelight'. the limelight was used to project a light as powerful as that in a modern movie projector by adding oxygen and hydrogen together onto limestone which would create a sudden reaction used by people.

As a result, this would make the lantern project hand-coloured slides on a screen or wall. In more modern years, the magic lantern was developed and used as an innovative experiment which turned to people mastering the special effects by slides which would change by approximately 25 seconds and could illustrate songs, stories and different genres movies. In the United States of America, a man named Joseph Boggs Beale was famous for being able to produce drawings to be reproduced as a lantern slide. in more detail, he could make more than 2, 000 slides for the magic lantern. The slides and the drawings would mostly cover a wide range of background stories and overall a general overview of the life people had in America. His work made great religious, literature and historical viewpoints on the screens to a massive range of audience, a projector that was popular from the years of 1880 to 1915. His work was unique because he used and projected his individual slides enough to make each one more dramatic and exciting to view. But on the other hand, also having the central image being overly decorated and emphasized the main moral or line from the actual story. This would usually allow the audience to pick up clues and make them realise the emphasis Joseph Boggs Beale made on each slide to dramatize the action of the story by picking up details as they were projected and make their eyes move within and with the pictures itself. Joseph Boggs Bele used a variety of different visual techniques to add to his slides zooming and panning all used differently to add dramatic moments where needed.

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Entertainment in a Form of Magical Performance. (2020, December 14). WritingBros. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/entertainment-in-a-form-of-magical-performance/
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Entertainment in a Form of Magical Performance. [online]. Available at: <https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/entertainment-in-a-form-of-magical-performance/> [Accessed 24 May 2024].
Entertainment in a Form of Magical Performance [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 14 [cited 2024 May 24]. Available from: https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/entertainment-in-a-form-of-magical-performance/
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