Imprint: Australian Scholarly Publishing

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925588170
Released: April 2017

A$44 Buy now

The Magic Lantern in Colonial Australia and New Zealand

By Elizabeth Hartrick

In a world awash with visual technologies, the curiously named magic lantern – the optical lantern or optical projector – and its fragile glass lantern slides has become largely invisible. Yet this powerful visual medium thrilled audiences around the world with sights, sounds and spectacle on the big screen long before the invention of the cinema.

This book brings to life the story of the magic lantern in colonial Australia and New Zealand. It describes the extraordinarily wide use of magic lantern images and technology across the colonies.

The medium’s repertoire was practically without limits: images were as likely to be culled from the canon of western high art as from a medical textbook or popular sentimental ballads and moral tales, and they ranged in aim from family amusement to serious instruction, religious evangelism and political and commercial promotion.

Lantern images were enjoyed by the social and cultural elite and middle and lower socio-economic audiences alike, in cities, country towns and hamlets. The medium lent itself popularly and easily to vulgar jokes, sensational presentations and sober demonstrations of scientific advances or lectures on history and geography.


Categories: Art, Australian History, New Zealand History, Cultural Studies, Non-fiction

You might also like:

Driftwood: Escape and survival through art
Eva de Jong-Duldig

Agents of Empire: How E.L. Mitchell’s photographs shaped Australia
Joanna Sassoon

Inspiring Australians: The First Fifty Years of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
Penelope Hanley

The Artist Curates
Ruth Johnstone