Digital history & historiography

The Historical Art of Projection. Digital and experimental approaches to the archaeology of the screen

23 May 2018

Hands-on History session with Karin Bienek and Ludwig Vogl-Bienek (University of Trier).

The term ‘historical art of projection’ denotes magic lantern shows and lantern lectures which were most widespread and with the greatest audience in industrialized countries of Europe and Northern America in the 19th century. The term ‘art of projection’ focuses on the composition and staging of magic lantern shows and lectures. The complex arrangement or ‘dispositif’ of the art of projection unites technical and design expertise, highly developed slide projectors, a large variety of slide sets of various genres, appropriate venues (e.g., theatres, churches or public halls), and audiences familiar with live performances by lecturers, musicians, and operators linked with projected images and visual effects on the screen. The art of projection is a visual medium of its time as well as one of the performing arts.

Our paper presents research methods and tools for digitalisations of works in the historical art of projection which are being developed in a DFG funded research project conducted in collaboration between the research focus Screen1900 at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Trier and the Trier Center for Digital Humanities: The Fundamentals of Digitalisation of Works in the Historical Art of Projection as Applied to Media History, Methodology and Media Technology. It illuminates approaches and procedures to digitise and digitally ‘reconstruct’ magic lantern slides and magic lantern performances and discusses the methodological challenges but also the benefits of using digital technology for re-activating historical practices of performative history.

The second section of the presentation introduces the experimental approaches of the illuminago project that combines media-archaeology and live performance. The illuminago ensemble has presented magic lantern performances since 1986. Their experimental re-enactments and creative re-uses of magic lanterns and slides involve musicians, actors and other performers. To demonstrate the dispositif of these shows we are going to use a bi-unial magic lantern to project original glass slides from the late 19th century onto a screen.

Afterwards the participants are invited to a hands-on session in the dh-lab with historical toy lanterns and original glass slides.


About the presenters

Karin Bienek is a magic lantern performer, serpentine dancer and experimental media-archaeologist. She received her diploma in pedagogy from Goethe University Frankfurt in 1983. Her thesis examined reception and learning processes in theatre. In the early 1980s she was a member of the independent theatre company Schlicksupp teatertrupp. From 1986 to 2005 she organised workshops, magic lantern shows and performance tours with international artists as well as two magic lantern festivals for the Deutsches Filmmuseum Frankfurt and the Institut für historische Projektionskunst. Currently she is a board member of laProf, the state association for professional independent performing arts in Hessen, Germany. Karin is a founding member of illuminago and its administrator and archivist.

Ludwig M. Vogl-Bienek is Senior Researcher in the Screen1900 research project "The Fundamentals of Digitalisation of Works in the Historical Art of Projection". In two previous Screen1900 research projects, from 2005 onwards, he explored the uses of the screen in charity and social care. He initiated the international conference Screen Culture and the Social Question which took place at the German Historical Institute London (GHIL), in December 2011. He published widely on the art of projection in the 19th century, including his dissertation Lichtspiele im Schatten der Armut (2016). With Martin Loiperdinger, he co-curated the dvd Screening the Poor 1888-1914 (2011). Ludwig is an experienced lanternist and lantern showman. He is a founding member of the illuminago project that performs magic lantern shows internationally (Europe, the US and Canada). With the illuminago ensemble he has produced and performed media archaeological live performances and workshops since 1986. His digital lantern lectures link his scholarly research with his artistic approaches to the history of the art of projection.



Wednesday, 25 May 2018, from 14.00 to 17.00



Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History
University of Luxembourg - Belval Campus
Maison des Sciences humaines, DHLab,  1st floor
11, Porte des Sciences
L-4366 Esch-sur-Alzette