Stories in the Dark, Installation shot, 2016. Image: © Julian Hughes.

Ben Judd
Stories in the Dark – Contemporary Responses to the Magic Lantern

2016

Work by: Jordan Baseman, Adam Chodzko, Benedict Drew, Louisa Fairclough, Dryden Goodwin, Haroon Mirza, Lindsay Seers, and Guy Sherwin.

Monday – Wednesday 09:00-17:00, Thursday 09:00-19:00, Friday and Saturday 09:00-17:00, Sunday 10:00-17:00

Stories in the Dark focuses on the magic lantern, a projection device invented in the 17th century that is often seen as a precursor to the cinema. Historically, magic lantern shows were the first time people saw projected moving images, and were used for storytelling, education, and entertainment. In profound contrast to our digital age in which the technology is largely incomprehensible, the magic lantern’s relatively simple analogue mechanisms and projected images paradoxically allow a sense of wonder, in which the viewer suspends disbelief and engages their imagination. Unlike cinema, which is pre-recorded, the creative act takes place live with the audience, encouraging a sense of participation.

Curated by Ben Judd, Stories in the Dark brings together artists Jordan Baseman, Adam Chodzko, Benedict Drew, Louisa Fairclough, Dryden Goodwin, Haroon Mirza, Lindsay Seers, and Guy Sherwin. Vintage magic lanterns, slides and related archival material are also on display.

The main exhibition is staged in the museum’s Special Exhibition Gallery, but works are also temporarily embedded within the Beaney’s unique permanent collections. The Victorian museum’s obsession with collecting and categorising objects from around the world can be seen reflected in the lantern’s use as a tool for bringing the distant, often ‘exotic’ and unseen world into close contact with the public; indeed the nineteenth century saw an historical overlapping in the development of the empirical and scientific with the irrational and mystical. It is this relationship between the distant and the near, between the unknown and the known, that lies at the heart of the exhibition.

Stories in the Dark is a collaboration between the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge and Whitstable Biennale.

A day of performances on 16 April included Barnyard Productions, Jeremy Brooker and Lamplighters, Louisa Fairclough, Ben Judd, Nicole Mollett and Frog Morris.

With special thanks to David Francis and Joss Marsh, Kent Museum of the Moving Image; Dr Nicholas Hiley, University of Kent, and Nottingham Trent University.

 

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Ben Judd