Egypt in the Early 1900s: Rare Vintage Lantern Slides
What sunset on the Nile has to do with landmark innovation in photographic imaging.
By Maria Popova
The lantern slide — a transparent image on glass that was magnified and projected onto a surface using a sciopticon “magic lantern” — came of age shortly after it was first introduced by Philadelphia daguerreotypists William and Frederick Langenheim in 1849. The lantern slide greatly broadened the audience for photography, then still a young art, introducing it into academia and the cultural institutions of the day by allowing teachers and museum curators to illustrate their lectures and presentations with projected images.
We’ve seen and heard a lot about Egypt in recent years, in light of the region’s political turmoil. We’ve even had some remix fun with it. (In a no-laughing-matter kind of way, of course.) But beneath what has turned into a highly politicized media talking point lies a remarkable, dignified country full of beauty and tradition. Much like looking at Old Japan aimed to rekindle the respect for and fascination with a culture consumed by the recent tragedy and subsequent media coverage, today’s look at these breathtaking vintage lantern slides from Egypt is very much an invitation to take a look beyond the veil of immediacy and revel in the inherent beauty of this land, courtesy of Brooklyn Museum’s fantastic archival lantern slide collection.
For another perspective-shift on this fascinating culture, don’t forget last week’s Cultural Connectives — an inspired effort to better understand Arab culture through typography.
Published May 23, 2011