Screen1900 Research Project: The Fundamentals of Digitalisation of Works in the Historical Art of Projection as Applied to Media History

Funded by German Research Foundation (DFG), from 2013 to 2017, conducted in co-operation with Trier Center of Digital Humanities.
Team: Thomas Burch, Yu Gan, Lydia Jakobs, Daniela Müller-Kolb, Martin Loiperdinger, Claudine Moulin, Li Sheng, Ludwig Vogl-Bienek, Sarah Woike.

The aim of the research project is to create fundamental conditions for researching the historical art of projection. Its development into the first sequential visual mass media at the end of the 19th century established the projection of images onto a canvas or screen as the universal technology which decisively contributed to the rise of films after 1900.

The art of projection has hardly been researched because the glass images projected in performances and lectures at the time have survived mostly in private collections, that means they are not publicly accessible. With the aid of methods and tools of the digital humanities this obstacle to research can be removed effectively. This requires generating digital source editions which consider the unique performativity of the art of projection as a performance medium. The application of international standards allows digital access to the works of the art of projection without temporal or regional limitations.

Therefore the research project will develop fundamentals of digitalisation of works in the historical art of projection as applied to media history, methodology and media technology to create conditions for eLaterna, the first international web portal of the art of projection as it applies to media studies and information technology. This web portal is to permit the shared access to this visual cultural legacy. It provides a virtual research environment to make works of the art of projection accessible in the form of critical digital source editions for research into media history and for interested scholars in the arts and social sciences.

To this end, the project will develop appropriate methods of digital reproduction and establish standards for compiling, determining meta data and archiving. In order to illustrate the performative potential of the surviving glass images in period performances, the project will develop various modes of digital reconstruction of projected slide series and projection effects at variable speeds with spoken texts and music.

As a result, two indispensible requirements for eLaterna, the international web portal of the art of projection, will be available at the end of the project:1. The digital manual with the fundamentals of methodology and media history, including the obligatory and optional content elements of the source editions, digitalisation standards and processes of media technology: The handbook data (texts, illustrations, animated function models) are to be transferred directly into the web portal digital services (instructions, retrievable context, help system).2. The virtual research environment is to enable third parties to generate the content of the web portal themselves with editorial supervision.


eLaterna - the International Web Portal of the Art of Projection.

Lydia Jakobs: Representations of Poverty in Victorian and Edwardian Popular Media: The works of George R. Sims and their adaptations (working title). KINtop Studies in Early Cinema, Vol. 7. John Libbey Publishing: New Barnet (forthcoming 2021).

Daniela Müller-Kolb: Lichtbildreklame. Frühe Werbung mit der Laterna Magica. Magister thesis, University of Trier, 2013, 112 pp.

Sarah Woike: Adaptions from Hesba Stretton's Works for Magic Lantern Use. Magister thesis. University of Trier 2017.

Lydia Jakobs: Poverty as Spectacle? Victorian Magic Lantern Shows and the Urban Poor. In: Phillip Drummond (ed): The London Film and Media Reader 3: Sixty Essays from FILM AND MEDIA 2013, The Third Annual London Film and Media Conference. The London Symposium. London 2015, pp. 432-442.

Lydia Jakobs: Christmas Day in the Workhouse: From Ballad to Film via the Magic Lantern. In: The New Magic Lantern Journal, vol. 11, no. 10 (September 2014), pp. 7-9.

Lydia Jakobs: Rekonstruktion(en) eines historischen Massenmediums: Ansätze zur Erforschung der Laterna magica. In: Thomas Nachreiner, Peter Podrez (eds): Fest|Stellungen. Dokumentation des 25. Film- und Fernsehwissenschaftlichen Kolloquiums Marburg. Schüren: Marburg 2014, pp. 323-331.

Daniela Müller-Kolb: Advertising with Light. Commerce and the Magic Lantern. In: The Magic Lantern, no. 2, March 2015, pp. 6-8.

Ludwig Vogl-Bienek: eLaterna – Digitale Editionen von Werken der historischen Projektionskunst. In: Editio 32.1 (2018), De Gruyter: Berlin, Boston 2018, pp. 104-118.

Ludwig Vogl-Bienek, Thomas Burch, Martin Loiperdinger: Online Access to Works in the Historical Art of Projection. Digital Approaches to Live Performance at the University of Trier. In: Nic Leonhardt (ed): The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities in Theater and Performance (forthcoming 2023).