Magic Box melds 19th century illusionism with current technologies in the guise of a pre-cinema device. The box hangs from the ceiling with brass viewing tubes on either end. Peering inside the device, each participant watches a film that is completely invisible to the other viewer. At the same time they can see right through the box into each others eyes. Levers on the side of the box allow the participants to select which of four films they will view. If both move to the end position, their hands will touch.
Each film inside Magic Box depicts a different aspect of 19th century hope and confusion that emerging technologies might at last allow us to cross the life-death divide. For the participant, Magic Box creates an intimate interaction with a stranger to probe the dissonance between real and virtual human connection.
Created (program/camera/edit) by Ruth Sergel
Performers: Luigi Coppola, Johanna Levy, Clara Palavesin
Music: Erik Friedlander, Michael Montes
Carpentry: Paul DiPietro
Magic Box is supported by a grant from the Experimental Television Center's Finishing Funds program which is supported by the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts. Thank you to ITP and 3LD Art & Technology Center