The Electric Rise and Fall of Nikola Tesla: As Told by Technoillusionist Marco Tempest

A cou­ple of years back, Mar­co Tem­pest, a tech­noil­lu­sion­ist from Switzer­land, retold the life sto­ry of inven­tor Niko­la Tes­la using the prin­ci­ples of Tana­gra the­ater, a form of the­ater pop­u­lar in Europe near­ly a cen­tu­ry ago. A good descrip­tion of this for­got­ten form of the­atre is sur­pris­ing­ly hard to come by. Per­haps the best I encoun­tered comes from this aca­d­e­m­ic web site:

Tana­gra The­atres exist­ed in many Euro­pean cities in the years 1910–1920. The name comes from the fig­ures exca­vat­ed at Tana­gra in the 1890s whose name became syn­ony­mous with per­fect liv­ing minia­tures, par­tic­u­lar­ly female. The sideshow illu­sion con­sist­ed of a minia­ture stage where liv­ing actors appeared as real but tiny fig­ures, through an arrange­ment of plain and con­cave mir­rors. Its devel­op­ment as a sideshow attrac­tion came about as a by-prod­uct of research into opti­cal instru­ments which could bet­ter sus­tain the per­cep­tion of depth. The use of con­cave mir­rors has a long his­to­ry in mag­ic but for the Tana­gra the stronger light of elec­tric­i­ty was essen­tial.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Tem­pest takes the con­cepts of Tana­gra to a whole new lev­el, com­bin­ing pro­jec­tion map­ping and intri­cate pop-up art. As you watch the show, you might find your­self intrigued as much by the method as by the sto­ry itself. If that’s the case, you will want to watch the “behind-the-scenes” video below. Tem­pest also gave his pre­sen­ta­tion at TED. You can watch it here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

 Thomas Edi­son and Niko­la Tes­la Face Off in “Epic Rap Bat­tles of His­to­ry”

Elec­tric Pho­to of Niko­la Tes­la, 1899

Free Com­ic Books Turns Kids Onto Physics: Start With the Adven­tures of Niko­la Tes­la

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  • Silvina says:

    Un triste y lam­en­ta­ble efec­to más de la nega­cion cien­tí­fi­ca actu­al de la exis­ten­cia del eter lumi­noso y de su inter­ac­ción con los ele­men­tos de la nat­u­raleza y con los seres humanos😔

  • Donald Reed says:

    I’m learn­ing more with age that I was not taught cor­rect­ly about a great deal and it sad­dens me to think that today’s kids may receive even less infor­ma­tion than I did. Why is it that his­to­ry has to be taught so mat­ter of fact when often times it’s not fac­tu­al at all but more of inter­pre­ta­tion rather than fact. Often the inter­pre­ta­tion is biased towards the per­son who makes the most noise not the one who makes the world a bet­ter place. I hope that this will change…

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