Today (Wednesday, Jan 16, 02013) is The Elumenati’s tenth birthday. As we celebrate, we extend our deepest gratitude to the partners and friends who have accompanied us on this exquisite journey. We look forward to another decade of omnidirectional illumination.
In the interest of full transparency, today actually marks a decade since the reformed Elumenati was granted the status of corporate personhood. To honor this milestone, we’ve scoured the archives to revive this brief history of our distant past, originally posted to our first website back in the oughts. Enjoy!
The history of immersive projection dates back many thousands of years. From the earliest connections visualized between radiant points on the celestial screen, humans have projected literal or metaphorical devices through their imaginations onto the vault of heaven.
Numerous cultures have experimented with the play of light and shadow to explore what Plato considered the “ideal forms” representing the truer, deeper, and normally unseen reality. This artform was perfected in the spice islands of southeast Asia, where the Shadowcasters gained prominence shared only by royalty.
In 1676, a small group of magic lantern projectionists, led by a Bavarian inventor named Adam Vicehopper, took a journey to Indonesia to experience the mythical shadowplay first hand. The power and beauty of the shadowplay experience affected them so greatly that they joined together to explore the ways in which panoramic plays of light, shadow, color, and sound could be developed.
Calling themselves the Sichtbare Hochschule des Lichtstroms (which roughly translates as the Visible College of Luminous Flux), the group developed a number of immersive projection environments to effectively relate the rapid advancements in arts and sciences to international audiences. Through their knowledge of panoramas, magic lanterns, the camera obscura and other devices of illusion, they combined numerous technological artforms to explore and promulgate emerging modes of understanding into the nature of both the scientific and mystical Universe.
Throughout the late 17th and early-mid 18th centuries, the group traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Americas giving mobile performances. Due to their devotion to the development of novel optical devices, light projection techniques, and multi-sensory “surround” environments, the SHL (referred to as “Die Schule” or “The Visible College” ) changed their name to Elumenati in 1732 (from the Latin root ‘lumen” meaningopening or light). After a number of high-profile international performances and installations throughout the following decades, the group publicly disbanded in 1775 for unknown reasons.
By the dawn of the 20th century, moving image technologies were greatly refined, and the ability to create increasingly realistic and immersive experiences expanded the possibilities first presented by the Bavarian Elumenati. Acetate film, electric projection, audio amplification, wireless transmission: each advancement enhanced the ability to project imaginative visions and explore mediated worlds.
In the late 20th century, The Elumenati re-emerged publicly to experiment with immersive imaging technologies. By exploring the ever-shifting border between the fields of cinema, installation art, virtual environment design/virtual reality, game development, spatialized audio, human computer interface design, trans-sensory stimulation, systems integration and automation, pneumatic design, optical engineering, media arts & new media theory, scientific visualization, simulation & training, large format filmmaking, experimental film, and live cinema, they now design tools, techniques, and applications for the development of novel experiences using immersive projection environments.
As the metaphors for the heavens have evolved over time, so have the tools used to visualize and interact with different ways of viewing the big picture of humanity’s home in the cosmos. Headed into the 21st century, the Elumenati’s explorations at the intersection of art, science, and technology are continuing to seek new ways of illuminating and enhancing our collective understanding of the Universe.