The New Magic Lantern
The magic lantern, an early type of image projector, was developed in the 1600s and used through the 1700s to the mid-20th century when it was replaced by the slide projector.
The horror theatre genre “phantasmagoria” used magic lanterns to project demons, ghosts and skeletons onto walls as part of their shows. An obsession with the bizarre and the supernatural characterised the romanticism of the latter decades of the 18th century, including the popularity of the gothic novel.
The new romanticism of the 21st century surrounds technology and its controlling sister, the computer algorithm. Exchanging the supernatural for the super-technological, we watch magic images play on screens in our homes and in our hands.
The demons we project on our screens are no longer figments of a fearful imagination but images of ourselves cut into slices. We have digitised our layers and seen what we are made of in black and white.
The MRI scanner is the new magic lantern, providing vivid and detailed pictures of what it is to be us. And we take it all at screen value, it’s there in way over fifty shades of grey so why shouldn’t we?
The MRI scanner is amazingly useful in a large number of ailments, allowing doctors to diagnose serious conditions, but when it comes to musculoskeletal problems it’s just not so reliable. And in back pain and neck pain, it can be downright misleading.