#5 – Burian on Lanterna Magika

I must be honest: this essay on an obscure Czech performance medium was one of the most brutal gauntlets of an article I’ve ever read.  Perhaps the frazzled state of my brain after this past week and a half is causing me to exaggerate, but between this article’s sheer length, level of technical detail (not aided by the unintelligible black and white photos), commitment to historical comprehensiveness, not to mention the hard-to-keep-track-of Czech names getting constantly throw around, made it quite an overwhelming slog.  I’m interested to see how we bring this into play in class, because it felt rather tangential to me, but for now I’m going to strive to extract something from it.

I suppose what felt like the heart of the article to me was the quote from Marshall McLuhan and the qualification Burian added after it.  McLuhan said: “the moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary trance and numbness imposed on them by our senses,” to which Burian adds that new multimedia forms must still possess some sort of technical mastery or finesse in order to captivate.  I’m not sure I agree with this, but it certainly holds true for the needlessly complex technology of Lanterna Magika, and it also plays into our discussions of the aesthetic of astonishment and the degree to which the technology itself played a major role in the enjoyment of early cinema.  Also, the article included the great quote “there are no happy marriages in art, only successful rape,” so that was fun.