Northwestern Events Calendar


Urania and the Ascelepiades: A Magic Lantern performance by Artemis Willis

When: Thursday, April 13, 2023
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM CT

Where: Block Museum of Art, Mary and Leigh, 40 Arts Circle Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free and open to all

Contact: Block Museum of Art   (847) 491-4000

Group: Block Museum of Art

Category: Academic, Fine Arts



Throughout the 19th century and well into the 20th century—before and after the invention of cinema—audiences around the world flocked to scientific lectures illustrated by luminous magic lantern images. In Urania and the Ascelepiades, a magic lantern performance by Artemis Willis (in collaboration with lanternist Joel Schlemowitz), projected images from the fields of astronomy and medicine merge seamlessly on the screen, transporting us from the heavenly to the human and back, with possible detours. Created for The Heart’s Knowledge: Science and Empathy in the Art of Dario Robleto, this performance explores how the lantern has connected popular audiences to the cosmos and microcosmos, often by way of ancient myths. Vignettes drawn from the work of women who lectured on the international circuit a century ago pay tribute to these underrecognized ladies of the lantern, while also creating new mythologies about women and screen media. Featuring original magic lantern slides and a c.1890 mahogany biunial (or double) magic lantern combining two projectors in a single device.

Following the approximately 30-minute performance, Willis and Schlemowitz will discuss the history of magic lantern performance, the use of projected images in scientific lectures, and the challenges and rewards of studying and performing with the lantern today.

An initiative of the COOLIDGE CORNER THEATRE, with major support from the ALFRED P. SLOAN FOUNDATION.


About the speaker: 

Artemis Willis is a media historian, media arts curator, and media maker. She is currently at work on a book manuscript on the history. theory, and practice of the magic lantern, titled Lanternology. She received her Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago.


Joel Schlemowitz is an experimental filmmaker based in Brooklyn who works with 16mm film, shadowplay, magic lanterns, and stereographic media. He is the author of Experimental Filmmaking and the Motion Picture Camera: An Introductory Guide for Artists and Filmmakers (Focal Press/Routledge).


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