ARC Discovery Project Overview
The spectacular outdoor projections that are currently redefining our urban space have a long heritage in Australia. For instance, for over a century Australia’s visual culture was profoundly shaped by the technology of magic lantern slide projection. From the 1840s to the 1930s this technology permeated theatres, lecture halls, church services, private homes and even open public spaces. It crossed from popular entertainment venues to elite educational institutions, and evolved from beautifully hand-painted slides to high-quality photographic reproductions. Some aspects of the technology were uniquely Australian, while other aspects were closely plugged into global networks of image trade and cultural exchange. Lantern slide performances produced complex multimedia, multi-sensory experiences for their audiences which can now historically inform our understanding of the collective experience of contemporary new media technologies. As well, they left behind large collections of glass slides in a wide variety of institutions large and small. Although neglected until now because they do not fit easily into traditional museum and gallery taxonomies, these slides have the potential to provide an exciting new archival resource for historians, curators and artists. Our Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP160102509) investigates the variety of contexts in which lantern slides were shown and the breadth of the stories told through this media.