ACMI presents

Magic Lantern Show


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 performed live by Dr. Alexander Hunter.


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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, specialising in early photography and based at the Australian National University (ANU). From 2016–19 she was the Research Fellow and Research Assistant on two photographically-centred ARC Discovery Projects: 'Heritage in the Limelight: The magic lantern in Australia and the world' and 'Curating Photography in the Age of Photo sharing'. Both of these grants contributed to an extended book project, Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: the global career of showman daguerreotypist J.W. Newland (2021) co-authored with Martyn Jolly.

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Alexander Hunter

Alexander Hunter

Dr. Alexander Hunter is the Composition Convenor and Undergraduate Convenor at the Australian National University School of Music. His work as a composer is based on open works, which encourage a fluid relationship between composer, score and performer. He has worked with performers and ensembles globally and his performance-led research is based on collaborative multimedia works exploring structured improvisation in electroacoustic settings.

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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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