Medeology Collective

1/09 - Video Installation for the Jepson Center of the Arts at 'Muse: Art and Technology Week', Savannah, USA

Medeology Collective
During the mid-to late 19th Century there was a growing interest in light and image projection. From the Magic Lantern, the Fantascope (Hauch) to the Zoetrope (Horner); these optical devices were predecessors of cinema. Many of the exponents were interested in magic and the arcane. One of the most famous of these was the Frenchman Gaspard Robertson, who developed a live stage show involving smoke, mirrors, elaborate visual effects, hand-animated slides and moving projectors. After failing to summon the devil, Robertson decided to create his own horror show, which was later to be called Phantasmagoria, derived from the Camera Obscura and magic lantern. ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ is one aspect of this where a projection of the devil was rolled on wheels towards the audience, causing the public to panic and flee. On several occasions the audience ran on stage and smashed up the show, thus was their belief in the reality of what they were seeing.

Since the early-19th century the Gothic cultural aesthetic of the Romantics influenced literature (Byron) and painting (Fuseli). It seems that this trajectory has increased and deepened in the early 21st century. Some of the questions raised by Phantasmagoria involve: why is today’s culture so obsessed with horror? Is this a result of the ‘War on Terror’, a larger doomsday scenario, millenarianism, changes in climatic conditions, or simply a reflection of global economic crisis? Whatever the cause/s, the horror genre has become an expression of a wider social zeitgeist, which we have come to enjoy and flirt regardless of underlying anxiety.

The installation featuresd a distance sensor that detects people in the space using sonar pulses, sort of like a bat. The sensor triggered a midi-message was applied to effects parameters in Module 8. 

Digital Video Projectors, I-Cube X Sensor Technology, Module 8, After Effects.

Scrim, A.C. Parts, Mirror Ball, Panasonic HVX-200 Video Camera.
"All those large dreams by which men long live well
Are magic-lanterned on the smoke of hell;
This then is real, I have implied
A painted, small, transparent slide.""

William Empson

Phantasmagoria is a visual and media collage involving imagery of the dead of Savannah, the living viewer in the gallery space and cinematic horror. It is also media archeology and a modern homage to the early days of media experimentation, as well as an exploration of the current climate of fear, social emptiness and dislocation in contemporary culture.