Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wordy Wednesday

The word: Phantasmagoria

This is explained as an ever-changing scene that is confounding or strange and reminds you of a dream. Or, a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances as created by the imagination. Honestly, I just love the way this word sounds. There is a classiness to it. A fantastical eerie feel to it. I've never actually used it in a sentence, but one of these days I hope to.

After doing a bit of reading, I've discovered phantasmagoria is a form of theatre where people used seemingly magical lanterns to project spooky images onto walls, either with smoke, light or screens. With a mobile projector, the images could move and change in size, either growing bigger and smaller. This form of theatre came from France in the late 18th century but gained popularity in the 19th century in Europe (especially with the English.)

Phantasmagoria, and the usage of this magic lantern, which was really just a candle and concave mirror, is actually still used today, though the lanterns are modernized. Have you ever been to Disneyland? When you're on the Haunted Mansion ride and your cart turns around only for you to see a ghost between you and whoever you're riding with? This is phantasmagoria!

In fact, this ride utilizes this form of theatre a lot. Consider all those spectres you see along the way. Not to ruin it for you, but those are all created by a projector, which is nothing more than a modern day magic lantern.

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