ARC Discovery Project Overview
Our Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP160102509) is investigating the ways in which Australia was profoundly shaped by the technology of magic lantern slide projection. Although neglected until now because it did not fit easily into traditional museum and gallery taxonomies, the visual culture of the magic lantern is becoming an exciting new archival resource for historians, curators and artists. We are working directly with a wide variety of collections to discover and spotlight the different ways beautifully hand-painted slides and high-quality photographic reproductions told Australian stories in theatres, cinemas, lecture halls, church services, private homes and even open public spaces. Through conferences, seminars and publications we are enabling Australian scholars and GLAM sector professionals to publish and present new research on the significance of the magic lantern in Australia. We are linking with overseas researchers to discover the ways magic lantern shows networked Australia to the rest of the globe. We are videoing creative re-use performances and media archaeological reenactments, which use original lantern slides and vintage magic lanterns, to connect contemporary audiences to the special experience of the magic lantern show. We are collaborating with digital partners through Trove to build a nationally networked, searchable visual database, that can act as a portal into the rich visual culture left behind by the magic lantern. We are developing a new collection explorer interface to increase the engagement of users with the totality of the magic lantern experience.