Sara Rossi, Lanterna Magica (butterfly heaven), 2011
Video installation, projection through two glass spheres 15 cm and 20 cm in diameter, respectively. Video 6 mins, loop. Colour, Sound.

The installation was inspired by the artist's admiration of magic lantern shows and video footage of exotic butterflies observed at the Nature Museum in Chicago. The magic lantern was a precursor of cinematographic image projectors and its hey-day ran from the 17th to the 19th century.
The reworked footage is projected through two spheres and accompanied by Armenian music. The resulting environmental installation is enormously lyrical and succeeds in transporting us from reality to a dreamlike place of visual ecstasy that is suspended in time. The solarized colours and spherical distortion create a kind of psychedelic vision that is at once alluring and liberating. The repetitive flapping of the butterflies’ wings and the way they alight on the flowers and leaves takes on the universal meaning of the life force, of being one with the wondrous world.

(Stefano Pezzato, from a text accompanying the Invito al Viaggio exhibition held at the Pecci Museum in Milan in February 2011 in collaboration with Spazioborgogno)

Lanterna Magica is a subconscious tribute to the film Farfallio, by Paolo Gioli, and his work on revealing the device behind the image. It grew out of the idea of a crystal ball, through which we perceive another time, another world, and an exhibition on painted film and magic lanterns at the Venaria Reale in Turin, which reignited my passion for archaic optic devices.
The colours and movement of butterflies' wings are central subjects in earliest forms of cinema, the insects being projected through the glass plates of the magic lanterns. The heaven alluded to in the title could well be film's magical ability to reveal a natural "universe" expressed through the movement, colour and eroticism of amorous butterflies.
In the video installation, time and images (and music) envelope the space, which is transformed by the light from the projector filtering through the two glass spheres. The spheres act as rudimentary lenses, filtering the beam of coloured light and expanding it to fill the space. Imperfections and slight distortions of the image caused by the passage of light through the spheres also help to create the illusion of a three-dimensional projection that can be crossed over like a kind of threshold.

(Sara Rossi, 2011)

Links : Video doc Lanterna magica (Pecci Museum, Milan) : Video doc on Lanterna Magica (Invito al Viaggio Pecci Museum, Milan) by ZEP Studio