Hysterical (Double Projection Film Still) Douglas Gordon, 1995, Image courtesy Southampton City Art Gallery
Hysterical (Double Projection Film Still) Douglas Gordon, 1995, Image courtesy Southampton City Art Gallery

Twixt Two Worlds showed items from Eastbourne, Brighton and other south coast museum collections in the context of the emerging topic of the History of Photography. The images presented were from when the science of photography had already been around for at least a generation, the technology was sufficiently stable to attempt to present moving pictures.

The thread of the hardware exhibited was the development of projected cinematography from firstly single slides presented sequentially, the classic studies strip photography of of animal locomotion of Eadweard Muybridge and then the Magic Lanterns, which were able to dissolve between two images. The step to sequential imaging using a strip of images is obvious, although a large step in technology was required to present convincing motion.

The contribution of this exhibition is to highlight the evolution of production values behind these early movies with the association with the magic and illusion shows that were current in late Victorian and Edwardian times. The "magic" in the name "Magic Lantern" is a big clue.

So some stunning exhibits of trick photography, I think mostly in-camera double exposures but also a movie of a car apparently running over a pedestrian, who gets up afterwards and chases the motorist. No explanations were offered but my assumption is that was either substitution of a dummy for a few frames, painting on the film or a trick car that was so light as to not cause injury. Either way, impressive that the trick is not apparent on a casual viewing more than century later.

But a trick. Perhaps the most satisfying was a one minute film called The Yawn, where the in-camera double exposure trick is deployed to show both the real world and what the character is thinking.

The exhibtion is good if you are already in Eastbourne but not, to my mind, worth a specific trip.


Twixt Two Worlds
11 October 2014 - 4 January 2015 (free)
presented in association with Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB14)

Inspired by the Barnes Brothers’ collection of early cinema apparatus and ephemera at the Hove Museum, Twixt Two Worlds takes the technique of double exposure and the visual effect of superimposition as starting points to explore the transition between still and moving image across photography, magic lantern slides and cinema. Objects such as early cine cameras (c.1900) and magic lanterns (c.1850) will sit alongside moving image works by contemporary artists like Douglas Gordon, Saskia Olde Wolbers and Jane & Louise Wilson.

Curated by Gaia Tedone, Curatorial Fellow, Contemporary Art Society in partnership with Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove and Whitechapel Gallery.

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