As I was writing this post on MFA Boston's Lautrec and the Stars of Paris exhibit, I came across a few photos I took in the last gallery of the exhibit that were centered around some mesmerizing film footage of the 'Serpentine Dance.'
I could have stayed in this room for hours, watching the minute or less clip go on repeat.
Successful entertainment acts in theaters or in circuses often use illusion to make the act seem even more incredible and impossible, and when done well they're nothing short of ingenious.
Before film effects and today's technology, club owners and theater directors knew the key to drawing a crowd lay in creating an effect that would keep people coming back each week.
At the end of the Lautrec exhibit, the MFA curators display more of his contemporaries' artwork and entertainment technology for performances that required his print advertisement skill.
One such act was Loïe Fuller's Serpentine Dance.
Clothed in yards of draped fabric, Loïe would spin in fine movements that moved her dress so that it would spiral like butterfly wings, or like a snake hence the name — Serpentine Dance.
Through a sort of kaleidoscope of colored films placed over the spotlight, her dress would dramatically change colors as she danced (think the 'make it pink/make it blue' scene from Sleeping Beauty).
Technology has often played a part in creating art — technique leads to inventions to improve and make more efficient, mixing colors and creating colors becomes a more scientific process, and new tools are invented with each advent of a new art movement. So the progress makes perfect sense.
But with the Serpentine Dance we have various artforms and technologies coming together — Loïe's dancing, the costume creation, the colored film wheel to change the colors of her dress, the use of early video cameras to film her dancing, and the printed advertisements to promote the act (which, lithography has a whole technology-practice itself!).
Where did you last pull up a chair to experience multiple technologies and media create a work of art?