II ASSAULTED BY THE DEVIL AND HIS COMPANIONS
OR THE PROJECTION
OF PHANTASMAGORIA SLIDES WITH THE AID OF A MECHANICAL
The Moisse Fantascope and slides found a new permanent
home and resides in the International
Media Museum / IMM - QMA Qatar.
The museum is scheduled to open in a few years.
Moise Fantascope is seen left with his phantasmagoria
This enables a most intriguing fantasmagoria application,
a mechanical autofocus mechanism connected with
the wheels of the apparatus.
This mechanical device is able to hold the projected
image in focus, continuously, while projection
distances are increased and decreased.
In order to achieve this the fantasmagoria lens
is used, and connected to the wheel operated mechanism
wich regulates the distance between the movable
front lens and the fixed condenser. This results
in a focused image on the screen regardless of
the size of the projected devil or distance between
the fantascope and the screen.
By increasing the distance between screen and
fantascope during complete darkness, the result
is the illusion of an approaching devil.
a bibliography for the Moisse Fantascope in PDF
fantascopes to see more fantascope prints
Fantascope is currently on display at the
in the permanent exhibition 'Passion
Fantascope & accessories
was on display in
Magique et Film Peint
a temporally exhibition organized by the
Nazionale Del Cinema.
devil appear to be assaulting his audience!
This illusion is enhanced because of total
darkness. In this way the screen is invisible
and no other reference-frames, such as
walls or doors, are noticeable. In this
distorted situation a large image creates
the virtual reality
experience of an extremely impending
and near at hand devil, while a small
image gives the impression of this ‘virtual
screen/devil’ being further away!
Because the painted devil figure on the
slide is surrounded by opaque black paint,
the virtual screen and the ghost appear
as one and the same, due to the pitch
black room. All superfluous light is avoided
by using this phantasmagoria painting
technique. It really looks as if the devil
is floating in space! This effect is perhaps
the most important phantasmagoria technique.
The latter is not used in the better
known traditional magic lantern show.
Phantasmagoria projection is back-projection
as seen in the illustration.
The fantascope & public were separeted
by the translucent screen on which the
Phantasmagore project his ghostly images.
More typical phantasmagoria slides can
be found on the
Ouvrez les Yeux Mondains, Voici votre Miroir
Meurs, Et vous Mourrez Peut-Être Avant ce soir
This illustration from,
Pratique sur l'emploi des Appareils de Projection;
Lanternes Magique, Fantasmagorie, Polyoramas Appareils
pour l'einseignement et pour les agrandissement"
shows the typical settings
for a Phantasmagoria room.
By A. Molteni / Constructeur d'instruments d'Optique,
de Physique, de Mathématiques et de Marine.
More suchlike illustrations can be found
here to see and read about peculiar
military use of the Phantasmagoria
shortly after the tumultuous days of the French Revolution, the
Visit also Paul Burns' 'The
History of the Discovery of Cinemathography' for information
on the Moise Fantascope.
not surprising that the described mechanical autofocus
never works faultlessely compared with a modern
autofocus lens. But this imperfection is in fact
a great advantage when producing “authentic”
ghosts! With all due respect for projection apparatus
in general, a technically perfect visual image
is not always guaranteed to obtain the most “desirable”
effect. This is certainly the case for fantasmagoria
applications, and even for a lot of good quality
Magic lantern slides, no matter the subject. Furthermore,
there exist many interesting precious slides of
more than one glass layer, each with its own painted
details and they all create their own illusion.
The ability to focus clearly on two or more glass
layers is to some extent proof that the lens is
of high technical quality, but it also eliminates
the “magic” aspect of a slide/object. Even the
best professional, full-size reproduction of a
slide (the original of which may have images painted
on both sides of the glass) has only a single
layer and will therefore, when projected, not
posses the “magic” possibilities of the original.
Fortunately we lanternists all understand the
above dilemma, because we collect Magic Lanterns
& original slides and are familiar with their
characteristic nineteenth-Century features.
next page explains the
principle of the mechanical
Phantasmagoria Slides examples from various collections
Visit later the theme of death in literature:
Danse macabre des
Hommes et des