Selected research 3: Towards an archeology of projection media-the arrangement and publication of “magic lantern” slides and the organization of exhibitions and art works based on digital data

    Principal Researcher: Ryo Okubo (Education and Research Associate, Public Collaboration Center, Tokyo University of the Arts) Collaborative Researchers: Machiko Kusahara (Professor, School of Culture, Media, and Society, Waseda University), Eriko Kogo (Associate Professor, Meisei University School of Humanities), Manabu Ueda (Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science), Miyuki Endo (Doctoral Program, Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University), Tatsuya Saito (Representative Director, Abacus Inc.), Kouta Kato (Education and Research Assistant, Art Innovation Center, Tokyo University of the Arts), Toshiyuki Kuwabara (Education and Research Assistant, Public Collaboration Center, Tokyo University of the Arts)

【Research objective】
  The Theatre Museum has many image-related cultural materials from the prehistory of cinema that are extremely precious, even when viewed from the perspective of global media history. This joint research project involves systematically arranging the Theatre Museum’s collection of “magic lantern” and “Utsusie” slides (the latter is a Japanese style of magic lantern popular from the late Edo to Meiji periods), and specifying the age and themes of these slides, which have never previously been catalogued. As well as completing this analysis, this research project aims to share and present its findings to the public through an exhibition, catalogue, and database, while exploring the value of these slides, and the option of using them as the basis for works of art and digital data.

【Summary of the research findings】
○Investigation of the artifacts The work began with an inspection of the Theatre Museum’s magic-lantern slides, designed to obtain an overview of the artifacts and their state of preservation. The joint research team also inspected related materials, including the collection of slides, projectors, and trade catalogues belonging to Machiko Kusahara. Crosschecking the Theatre Museum’s slides with trade catalogues is expected to help in identifying their ages and subjects. In the course of this inspection, it became clear that the projection equipment would need repair and restoration in future. ○The Theatre Museum’s slide catalogue Approximately 250 items were carefully selected and arranged by theme. Now the main classification of images has almost been completed, and members of the joint research team and outside specialists are writing the explanatory notes. A catalogue is scheduled to be published by Seikyusha this semester. ○The database of magic lantern slides Work is currently underway to augment the data acquired while investigating the artifacts and compiling a catalogue of slides. Within the year, once additions have been made to the information already confirmed, we plan to update the database and publically release all of the image data extracted from the Theatre Museum’s slides. For the future, a research team is investigating the option of consolidating image data from the Utsushie pictures and magic lantern trade catalogue. ○Exhibition based on the research findings A project exhibition will be held on April 1 at the Theatre Museum, showcasing research findings from the investigation of artifacts and the digitization of the Museum’s collections. To prepare for an exhibition this fiscal year, the materials to be exhibited have been selected and explanatory notes prepared. In addition, a design team is preparing the main visuals and setting up a special website for the exhibition. The exhibition layout has been agreed, and adjustments are now being carried out, as the miniatures are prepared.

Fishing for kappa (water imps)        Tornados        Hamlet and Ophelia        Duplicity

Fishing for kappa (water imps)




Hamlet and Ophelia



     Photographer and child      Fukusuke (a large-headed dwarf statue, bringer of good luck)      ubscription book     

Photographer and child


Fukusuke (a large-headed dwarf statue, bringer of good luck)


Subscription book