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Diorama  

Pieter van der Merwe

[Gk: ‘through view’]

Large-scale, illusionistic form of transparency painting, developed in 1821–2 as a public entertainment by the French scenic artist and pioneer of photography Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, in association with the architectural painter Charles-Marie Bouton (1781–1853); also the special building in which it was shown. Like the earlier Panorama, the diorama was a late step in the history of attempts to recreate the appearance of nature by means of painting and the mechanical regulation of light. Daguerre’s subsequent progression from the diorama to photography marks the vital change of medium by which this aim was eventually achieved in the form of cinematography. Daguerre’s device consisted of a fine cloth painted with landscape subjects such as mountains and evocative ruins, in a manner exploiting popular taste for the Sublime and the picturesque. The solid features of the paintings were executed in opaque colour, but transparent tints were used for the effects of atmosphere, weather, and time of day. The audience sat in near-darkness: the pictures were shown by means of daylight admitted through windows concealed both above the spectators and behind the intervening cloth and regulated by a system of shutters and coloured filtering screens. Light reflected off the front of the cloth was modified by light transmitted through it to produce effects ranging from sunshine to thick fog. Daguerre’s oil painting ...

Article

G. Lola Worthington

(Alva)

(b Milan, OH, Feb 11, 1847; d West Orange, NJ, Oct 18, 1931).

American inventor, entrepreneur, film producer and businessman. Edison invented numerous electrically based technologies. His father, Samuel Edison (1804–96), and mother, Nancy Matthews Elliot (1810–71), lived very modestly. Home schooled after he performed poorly in school, his formal educational experience lasted only three months. A shrewd businessman his instinctive abilities combined with his innovative inventions furthered his extensive research. He famously “invented” the first practical incandescent light bulb. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” he established the first large American industrial research laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.

Credited with developing predominant technical designs and electrically powered mechanisms for numerous devices, his inventions were instrumental toward the arts. Some principal imaginative, mechanical creations are the phonograph, electrically powered generators, individual home electricity, motion picture cameras and audio recordings. Edison patented his first motion picture camera, the “kinetograph,” and began his foray into film. In 1891 his kinetoscope, which allowed individuals to view short films through a peephole at the top of a cabinet, became highly lucrative. In ...

Article

Christian Rigal

[electrophotography; xerography.]

Term for processes involving the interaction of light and electricity to produce images and for the production of original works of art by these processes. Since these processes are used by nearly all photocopiers, the production of such works has also been referred to as ‘copy art’, although this is misleading, since it suggests the mere replication of already existing works. Artistic photocopies were made in California in the late 1950s, but electrography proper as an international art form dates from the early 1960s, when electrographers developed its basic techniques. Bruno Munari’s pioneering works, workshops and publications, starting in 1963, foreshadowed the preponderant role played by Europe in the history of electrography, to which important exhibitions at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1980) and in Valencia (1988) later testified. Electrographs vary widely in size and can be over 1 km in length; materials used include not only paper but also canvas and leather. In the mid-1970s ...

Article

Mec art  

Term coined in 1965 as an abbreviation of ‘mechanical art’ by Alain Jacquet and Mimmo Rotella and promoted by the French critic Pierre Restany (b 1930) to describe paintings using photographically transferred images that could be produced in theoretically unlimited numbers. The term was first publicly used of works by Serge Béguier (b 1934), Pol Bury, Gianni Bertini (b 1922), Nikos (b 1930), Jacquet and Rotella at an exhibition at the Galerie J in Paris entitled Hommage à Nicéphore Niépce. In contrast to the use of screenprinting by Americans such as Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol to incorporate photographic images, the Mec artists projected images directly on to canvases coated with photosensitive emulsion, and they generally used the method to alter rather than merely reproduce the original photographic image. In his Cinétizations, for example, Bury cut and turned concentric rings in the original photograph before rephotographing the image and transferring it on to canvas, as in ...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.

Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...

Article

Term used in the 19th century for a planographic print taken from a plate made of zinc, a technique first described in his 1801 patent application by J(ohann) N(epomuk) F(ranz) Alois Senefelder ; zinc was common in commercial usage by c. 1840. Such prints were more often subsumed under the generic name lithograph. ...