The Magic Lantern: Early Window to Africa & the African Diaspora

February Exhibit:

The UCSD Arts Library and AAASRC present a magic lantern exhibit showing views of Africa and relaying the African Diaspora. This small exhibit of early magic lanterns, along with some surprising magic lantern slides of Africa, is supplemented with Library materials about the African Diaspora and celebrates the role the magic lantern had in raising awareness of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Perhaps the earliest views Americans saw of Africa came in the form of magic lantern shows (hand-painted glass slides that were used in early gas-lamp-powered projectors). Magic lantern shows relayed news and views of far-away places pre-dating still photography and moving pictures. Even as early as the 1600’s and 1700’s, lively magic lantern shows employed early animation techniques, narration and live music to show the culture of other continents. As early photographic technology grew, the magic lantern’s glass slides became even more valuable in relaying worldly experiences: some of the earliest photographs of Africa were shown to Americans through a magic lantern via glass slides.

This is a collaborative exhibit for Black History Month from the UCSD Arts Library and the African & African-American Studies Research Center. With an opening reception at the exhibit site at 3:00 p.m. on February 1, 2012, hosted by the UCSD Arts Library and AAASRC.



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