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Images In The Air: Optical Games, Magic And Imagination

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Chapter Summary

This chapter shows that the monstrous or devilish deformation of the images in the air is a significant reference to the substance of which they were considered to be made. It argues that their demonic appearance unmasks these images in the air as products of the imagination. The chapter locates the ?images in the air? in the realm of the marvellous and the preternatural. It shows that the imagination was often evoked to explain marvellous phenomena. The chapter then discusses the contemporary physiology of imagination. It also shows that the ?images in the air? were ?spirits unseen? made visible. In his book on natural magic Della Porta discussed numerous optical games, which made use of the image formation capacities of lenses, mirrors and camera obscura?s. The wide circulation of this book indicates that participation in these optical games was not the privilege of courtiers with access to princely collections.

Keywords: contemporary physiology of imagination; Della Porta; images in the air; natural magic; optical games; spirits



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