Jul 8, 2008

We have always wanted magic machines

I knew this guy who had a little light box, a predecessor of the motion picture projector. He bought it, I think he said, at a junk shop, where the proprietor didn't know what it was.

I didn't know what it was, either. He told me it was a magic lantern.

He didn't just have the one, though. After that first one, he'd become obsessed with early movie-showing equipment, and he started buying and collecting every sort of antique projector: Kinesigraphs and Kinetoscopes, Chronophotograpics, Eidoloscopes, Theatre Optiques, Zoopraxiscopes.

He kept them all in a shed behind his house, in Washington state. There were rows and rows of these things, little light boxes in the little shop in his backyard. We could barely get into the shop. To move around, we had to move some of the projectors into the yard.

Read the full column: Gods in little boxes