Monday, September 20, 2010

Aether Salon: Phantasmagoria!

Sunday found me in New Babbage once more, at the season's first Aether Salon. I was nearly late, and quite out of breath when I arrived, as the hansom cab let me out a considerable distance from the Salon itself. I suppose I should have been more specific in my instructions to the driver, but how was I to know he had no knowledge of the Salon? Shocking!

In any event, the speaker this month was young Master Loki Eliot, who was to enlighten us on the subject of film-making. I will admit to being somewhat skeptical of the medium. Oh, certainly there have been short films, some made by Master Loki himself, that capture the essence of the Steamlands and have a profound emotional affect on the viewer. However, one can see the slippery slope already: these "motion pictures" will become increasingly expensive in order to attract a large audience; yet to attract the audience, the films will also become increasingly bland and blatantly emotionally manipulative. The final collapse for the art form will be the genre that will be called the "Romantic Comedy." At any rate, that's my musing on the subject. I could be completely wrong.

Miss Serafina Puchkina introduced the Salon. I made a note to ask where she bought that lovely ensemble.

The Salon was well-attended, with around 36 souls present, including Miss Ceejay Writer, Mr. Salazar Jack, and Miss Darlingmonster Ember.

Master Loki attracted a number of his fellow Goonies, the urchins of Babbage. For the most part, they were well-behaved, though most looked as though they had not had a good scrubbing for some time.

Miss Viv Trafalgar introduced the speaker.

Master Loki started by describing the Phantasmagoria, a precursor to the modern film:

Apparently invented in France in the late 18th century, [the Phantasmagoria] gained popularity through most of Europe throughout the 19th century. Loki Eliot: A modified lantern was used to project frightening images such as skeletons, demons, and ghosts onto walls, smoke, or semi-transparent screens, frequently using rear projection. The projector was mobile, allowing the projected image to move and change size on the screen, and multiple projecting devices allowed for quick switching of different images.

The magic lantern has been credited to both Athanasius Kircher and Christiaan Huygens in the early to mid-17th century. Huygens’ magic lantern has been described as the predecessor of today’s slide projector and the forerunner of the motion picture projector.

(For some reason, Master Loki's shirt would remain gray to my camera the entire time.)

He went on to show examples of short films, including some of his own, and excerpts from larger productions, describing the interplay between the action on the screen and the musical accompaniment.

Below, Dame Ordinal Malaprop waits to ask a question, with Baron Klaus Wulfenbach to her right.

I sit and listen.

Miss Breezy Carver stands in the back of the Salon.

The crowd was quite enthusiastic and, despite admitting to some butterflies in the stomach beforehand, I have no doubt that Master Loki feels pleased with his talk and the reaction to it.

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