Tuesday, February 8

description of Louis Daguerre's diorama

"A Midnight Mass at Saint-Étienne-du-Mont"

At first it was daylight, the nave full of [empty] chairs; little by little the light waned; at the same time, candles were lit at the back of the choir; then the entire church was illuminated, and the chairs were occupied by the congregation who had arrived, not suddenly as if by scene-shifting, but gradually -- quickly enough to surprise one, yet slowly enough for one not to be too astonished. The midnight mass started, and in the midst of a devotion impossible to describe, organ music was heard echoing from the vaulted roof. Slowly dawn broke, the congregation dispersed, the candles were extinguished, the church and the empty chairs appeared as at the beginning. This was magic.

-- Alison Gernsheim and Helmut Gernsheim L.J.M. Daguerre

Daguerre, a 19th century stage designer and entrepreneur, invented the diorama, a spectacle theater with no actors. This one ran for three years in Paris.

He would go on to invent photography, thereby becoming one of history's most influential figures in the development of the visual arts, creating a popular awareness, appetite and demand for images, and leading to the invention of the cinema and Marshall McLuhan's famous words, "the medium is the message."