Contemporary Photographs based on Early Magic Lantern Slides

The American Photographer, Stephen Sack (°1955, Plainfield / New Jersey), is intrigued by antique historical objects and most of all in how these deteriorate during their existence. The visual appearance of how these objects chance during this destructive process is what he captures in his often fascinating, large format, alienated images. Stimulated by old historical visual cultures he left the United States and traveled true Europe where finally he found his new breading-ground in Belgium.

Since 1983 Sack' works on a prestigious uncanny photo series, "
The Chromosomic Memory". A recent fascination leads him to the early hand-painted images for the Magic Lantern which he now use for his artworks as seen in the first two images below. Death and dying of artifacts seems to be the omnipresent theme in all the subjects he choose. His images are 'Skeletal Remains' of less known magical treasures. Please contact Stephen Sack for possible exhibition venues.


Magic Lantern Slide
based photographs

All Photographs
Stephen Sack



For earlier works, Sack photographed tombstones, coins, gargoyles, epitaphs, bird-droppings, porcelain photographs on graves, the back of engravings from Buffon'sHistoire Naturelle”, stereo-photographs, etc. The destructive mechanisms attacking the original artefacts is seen in all his confronting photographs. Once, these 'Skeletal Remains' will become the only true witness of the destroyed original. His art-works become an alienated rememberance of historical objects related to our visuel heritage.

The next two images illustrate two of his earlier works. On the left we see an old deteriorated porcelain photograph of a woman's grave.
The other image, "Seated Goddess" is taken from an old Gallo-Belgic coin. (first Century BC) The latter is part of the series "
The metal Mirror", color coin photography, an exhibition in the British Museum (1999) with a richly illustrated catalogue.

.Porcelain based photograph

- The metal Mirror -

Britisch Museum Catalogue
Old Coin based photograph.


Due to the scope of this web site, I will limit myself further to Stephen Sack's recent works based on Magic Lantern slides as seen in the first two images on this page. In many ways these further photographs are "... a nocturnal appearance for terrifying viewers" to quote the text on Giovanni da Fontana's (1420) early devil projection image. (Apparentia nocturna ad terrorem videntium)
Indeed, due to the photographical interpretation, and often also choice of originals, these images depicts an uncanny world of "ghost's".


All further Ghostly images are Magic Lantern Slide based photographs
Obviously the theme of Ghosts is also most popular among children


Visit Stephen Sack's



Obviously, due to the originals used, these weird photographs are extremely colorful! On the other hand, not all but many of the second series of coin images are equally generous in their color display. Even the photographs where the colors are more suppressed, monochrome or even black & white (in earlier works), Sack's images are always demanding our attention. It's most difficult to overlook them, if not on purpose.
The lack of contrast,
on purpose, is only seen in his equally fascinating images based on Buffon'sHistoire Naturelle” where he pictured the aggressive ink which eat's itself true the paper and leaves a trace on the rear side. The back of these images were indeed an obvious choice for his uncanny imaginary work.


For his current Magic Lantern images, Sack is using slides from different sources; museums, private collections and his own findings on flea-markets. Important collections, such as Werner Nekes, Pierre Levie, and major film, photography & toy museums give access to provide their wonderful images. Wonderful in Sack's opinion means these slides that are in poor condition, attacked by destructive processes in their life time. Very often, the images he use are the collector's "detritus" or sometimes their very favorite treasures!

The idea for the first exhibition,
FANTASMAGORIA, with this recent work originated in HET HUIS VAN ALIJN, folk-art museum in Ghent, where I discovered a nice early set of panoramic lantern slides in poor condition. As part of the TIME-FESTIVAL focusing on the theme Ars Moriendi - Ars Vivendi, the exhibition took place in an old chapel situated in the historical center of Ghent. This was followed by a few more exhibitions in art-galleries. Up-coming exhibitions, showing his work, will be announced on the Early Visual Media web site as soon the dates are known.

Previous solo exhibitions where held in:
The Museum of Fine Arts, La Valeta, Malta (1983) - The Gallerie of the photo museum in Charleroi, Belgium (1983) - The American Cultural Center, Brussels, Belgium (1984) - Gallery Lichtraum, Cologne, Germany (1985) - Gallery Agathe Gaillard, Paris, France (1987) - Gallery Fred Lanzenberg, Brussels, Belgium (1988, 1994 & 2003) - Kunst-Station St. Peter, Cologne, Germany (1989) - Gallery Friedrich, Cologne Germany (1990) - NOFFUB, Brussels, Belgium (1991 & 1992) - Museum of Modern Art, Antwerp, Belgium (1995) - Gallery Velge & Noirhomme, Brussels, Belgium (1996) - James Danziger Gallery, New-York, USA (1996) - Château-Musée de Dieppe, France (1997) - Huis van Alijn, Ghent, Belgium (2003) - Kapel Boondaal, Brussels, Belgium (2003)
See other contemporary photography on Photœil - Philippe Debeerst - Photoeil

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he online Media Archaeology Museum version (24) Jan 2017 to Dec 2018 - All rights are protected by SOFAM.be