Relict: A Phantasmagoria (2023)
Two-channel experimental documentary expanded cinema performed with magic lanterns & hand-drawn animation projections.
[magic lantern projection, handmade 65mm film magic lantern slides, digital projection, pre-recorded audio, and fog machine]
March 2024 | Ann Arbor, MI | Ann Arbor Film Festival
October 18 2023 | Los Angeles, CA | Philosophical Research Society
August 24-26 2023 | Los Angeles, CA | REDCAT NOW Festival
September 14 2023 | Chicago, IL | Chicago Underground Film Festival
September 23 2023 | Frenchtown, NJ | ArtYard Live Animation Festival
Relict: A Phantasmagoria is an experimental documentary performed with antique magic lanterns and hand-drawn animation. Invoking the history of magic lantern phantasmagoria as an exercise in belief and perception, Relict considers the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, religion, and documentary ethics collapsed within contemporary cryptozoology.
Adapting modern cryptozoological lore such as Bigfoot hunts and the Loch Ness Monster to hand-drawn magic lantern slides, Relict employs the visual language of magic lantern phantasmagoria through slides based on antique designs, including geared slides and dissolving views. These pre-cinematic images are infused with the aesthetics of veracity in current nonfiction filmmaking, including CGI speculative animated documentary, thermal imaging, and interventions of rotoscoped documentary re-enactment. Inspired by the magic lantern's historical role as a tool for scientific lectures, Relict wanders through histories of documentary animation used to visualize and legitimize monstrous creatures. The performance is nested in a collage of soundscapes, including interviews with Dr. Brian Regal (Kean University), a leading historian of science on the politics of skepticism in cryptozoology; a recent creationist sermon; and excerpts of pseudoscientific wildlife documentaries.
After the original WIP performance Relict: A Phantasmagoria (2020), was delayed from performances by the pandemic for a couple of years, Melissa completed fabricating the performance at the Camera Obscura Studio Residency in Santa Monica from Sept 2022-Jan 2023. Relict: A Phantasmagoria (2023) features approximately 70 new magic lantern slides and will start showing in 2023.
cryp·to·zo·ol·o·gy | \ ˌkrip-tə-zō-ˈä-lə-jē , -zə-ˈwä-\
The study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (such as Sasquatch) usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence.
Excerpts performed at:
Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles
Automata L.A. | Dissolving Sights: Projection Exhibition
Relict: A Phantasmagoria (2020) Performances
Larry Spring Museum of Common Sense Physics (Fort Bragg, CA)
Cosmic Rays Film Festival (Chapel Hill, NC)
Antimatter Media Arts Fesival (Victoria B.C.)
Cucalorus Film Festival (Wilmington, NC)
San Diego Underground Film Festival (San Diego, CA)
Press: KPBS San Diego Interview
Magic Lantern Slides
Melissa Ferrari & Benni Quintero
Melissa Ferrari, Jessica Goh, Sammy Lamb
Largo by Johann Abraham Peter Schulz.
Performed by Thomas Bloch on glass harmonica.
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.
Brian Regal Ph.D. Historian of Science. Kean University.
“Cryptozoology in the Bible.” Pastor Jason Robinson.
Mountain Baptist Church. West Virginia, October 21, 2018.
Courtesy of archive.org.
Archival Audio from archive.org