An evening around the magic lantern. In his new, poetic essay film Broken View (2023), Hannes Verhoustraete explores how this early type of image projector was used in Belgian colonial propaganda. The Fossil Locomotion designed by Floris Vanhoof is also inspired by the techniques of the magic lantern.
Both of them draw on material from their family collection for this. Verhoustraete connects 8mm footage that his uncle shot in the Belgian Congo with exceptional, archival glass slides. Vanhoof started from his family’s fossil collection.
In the presence of Hannes Verhoustraete and Floris Vanhoof
Hannes Verhoustraete is a filmmaker, teacher and researcher at KASK / School of Arts Ghent. Searching for new ideas with old media, multidisciplinary artist and media-archaeologist Floris Vanhoof often returns to abandoned projection technologies for installations, expanded cinema performances, films and music releases.
A poetic essay film on the colonial gaze and the magic lantern. This early type of image projector was used in Belgian colonial propaganda, showcasing the good works of the Church, State and industry. Lantern projections were an effective way of selling the colonial project to a somewhat reluctant Belgian public.
However fragile images made of glass may be, many thousands survived. Often lavishly hand colored, these tainted, horribly beautiful images helped shape the ways in which Europeans viewed, thought of, spoke about, and treated the colonial other. This tension between aesthetic experience and the reverberations of colonial ideology is central to the film. In composing an associative fabric of assemblages and collages, the film attempts to map the colonial gaze from a broken view, how it persists across time and shapes the way we view, think of, and speak about the past.
The performance Fossil Locomotion plays with the dimension of time. Fossils that were lying still for 750 million years start to move again through flickerings of a fraction of a second.
The work consists of imaginary motion studies of his family’s fossil collection in 81 sequences of four slides. The illusion of movement is created by means of a rotating disk, four overlapping, synchronised slide projectors and a soundtrack. The flickering animation arises because of the rotating disc lets the light through from one of the slide projectors at the time.
“The core question that sparks the piece is a childlike one: What if these fossils could move again?” (Steve Marreyt)