Full disclosure: I wrote about this already for my Director’s Live gig. I’m doing a more thorough look at this story here. I think it deserves more attention than a firm max of 100 words can allow.
How would your view of animation change if you found out that it was the original projected film medium? Would you have more respect for it? Would you question how it happened and why we haven’t known this for years?
Artist Henry Jesionka believes that a recent archaeological find of a coin, metal fragments, and hand painted glass panels suggests that Ancient Romans may have developed a method of projecting moving images. The coin contains Latin messages about the manipulation of light. The backside of the coin has an entire wheel made of parts like the discovered metal parts above the sun. The glass panels fit into the gap on the metal remains and the shape of the remains suggests a circular base to the complete piece.
Jesionka is trying to raise funds to do a big multimedia art exhibit about this discovery with IndieGoGo. Unlike Kickstarter, he does not need to reach his goal of $14,880 to collect donations. He gets whatever is left over after IndieGoGo’s cut on June 1.I think it’s fascinating that an artist is taking the time and effort to claim what could be a major technological discovery for the art world. The ancient projector might turn out to have been part of a clock or navigational device still. But what if it really was a film projector? What does that mean for the history of art?
While sculptures and other physical art mediums have survived for thousands of years, references to performing arts are more far more scarce. The Ancient Greeks are credited with the oldest record of Western music, for example, but we don’t even have real samples of their notation system to really speculate what it sounded like beyond regional resources. Roman music is even less well-known.Could these fragments of Ancient Rome hold the key to another art form from the time? What else would have been painted onto glass to project with the sun for the entertainment of the people? Was it merely an entertainment device or could it have been used for record keeping or capturing major historical moments and figures like a sculpture, mosaic, or tapestry?
We don’t know. I’m thrilled by the possibilities that Jesionka’s theory holds. Just imagine if archaeologists find a complete device or cases of sequential glass paintings. What stories will they tell us about life and art in Ancient Rome?
Most surprising of all is how something this old could be a push us into a whole new discussion about the value of art, film, and animation in society.
What do you think? Will you be donating to Jesionka’s project? Do you think his theory holds water? Sound off below. Love to hear from you.