ACMI presents

Magic Lantern Show


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Experience the phantasmagorical wonder of a 19th century magic lantern show accompanied by a live musical performance.

Participating in a magic lantern show is an experience like no other. As familiar stories spin out of control, coloured patterns rotate and merge, comic figures slide and animate, and songs and sounds mix and swirl, you’ll experience what audiences felt generations ago.

Join Dr. Martyn Jolly and Dr. Elisa deCourcy as they recreate the 19th century magic lantern show in a contemporary interpretation which combines the art of original glass slides with special optical effects and electroacoustic music composed by Alexander Hunter, Rachael Thom and Ashleigh Drury, performed live by Ashleigh Drury.


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30 mins


Gandel Digital Future Lab 1 , Level 1
ACMI, Fed Square

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About the performers

Martyn Jolly - photo by Janis Lejins

Martyn Jolly

Dr. Martyn Jolly is an artist and writer, and Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design. In 2015 he received an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant to lead the international project 'Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World'. Since 2015 he has developed a series of collaborative magic lantern performances around Australia. In 2020, with Elisa deCourcy he co-edited The Magic Lantern at Work: Witnessing, Persuading, Experiencing and Connecting.

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Elisa deCourcy

Elisa deCourcy

Dr. Elisa deCourcy is an art historian, based at the Australian National University. She holds an Australian Research Council Grant (2020-2023) for a project on early Australian photography which involves both practice and archival-based components. From 2016–19 she was the Research Fellow on 'Heritage in the Limelight: The magic lantern in Australia and the world' where she collaborated on magic lantern performances and wrote, Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: the global career of showman daguerreotypist J.W. Newland (2021) with Martyn Jolly.

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Ashleigh Drury

Ashleigh Drury

Ashleigh Drury is a composer and producer, who lives on Wurundjeri land. Their practise encompasses experimental, popular, and classical music. They completed a Bachelor of Music from the ANU School of Music in 2017 and honors from the Melbourne Conservatory of music in 2020. Their work explores the presentation and reception of sound as much as it explores sound itself. Drury is interested in challenging traditional performance models and creating new ways of presenting music through installation and site-specific works. They currently work as a music producer for a variety of artists across Australia.

ACMI building exterior at night - Shannon McGrath

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A couple checks out consumes from The Last Emperor in The Story of the Moving Image (image credit: Phoebe Powell)

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Explore the wonder of magic lanterns in our centrepiece exhibition

READ: Echoes of humanity, past and present: Magic Lantern Slides

Curator Chelsey O’Brien describes the magic of seeing parts of your own life reflected in objects from the past.

Read the article
Colour magic lantern slide depicting girls dancing and a musician, Japan (detail)

Light: Works from Tate's Collection

Exhibition | 16 Jun – 13 Nov 2022

From Turner to Kusama, celebrate the groundbreaking artists who harnessed the elemental force of light over 200 years of art history.

The Passing Winter, 2005, Yayoi Kusama. Tate: Purchased with funds provided by the Asia-Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2008. © Yayoi Kusama. Photo: Tate

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