I believe Forum readers will be intrigued by the following excerpts from an online "L.A. Times" review of "Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence", an exhibition featuring the work of 12 international artists, at USC's Fisher Museum of Art...
"The original phantasmagorias were theatrical thrill rides, equal parts haunted house, communal sance and intense dream. Spectacles that played in Paris, London and beyond beginning about 1800, they used pre-cinematic rear projections, smoke and manipulated lantern slides to create illusions of figures advancing and receding, creatures materializing and dissolving.
One of the quietest works, the Colombian Oscar Muoz's 'Aliento (Breath)', is also one of the most poignant. Five mirrored discs hang at eye level and bear no image but the viewer's own reflection until breathed upon. Condensation causes another face to emerge, a small photographic portrait of a deceased man or woman, there only briefly, then once again submerged within the disc's glossy surface. The faces' anonymity and the brevity of their appearance act as powerful metaphors for our transient condition, our lives as fleeting as a single breath.
...Muoz's delicate act of breathing life into vanished souls competes with the foggy extravaganza of a neighboring installation. Danish artist Jeppe Hein's "Smoking Bench" blankets you with vaporous plumes when you sit on it. A nearby mirror allows you the pleasure of watching yourself momentarily vanish, a gimmicky but amusing smoke-and-mirrors illusion.
In "Experiencing Cinema," a better use of atmospherics, Brazilian Rosngela Renn revives an early 19th century phantasmagoria practice of projecting still pictures onto veils of smoke. Photographs, gathered from found family albums, cohere briefly on the smoke screen; then both image and screen dissipate, mortality again provocatively aligned with ephemerality.
Viewers become animators in French artist Michel Delacroix's installation. His four portraits, on mirrored plates covered with a thin layer of water, are mounted on tall, slim-legged tripods so the faces cast a ghoulish reflection on the wall behind them. As you walk on the wooden platform beneath them, the features warp further, rippling and quavering like ghosts released by permission of your movement.
This is the final stop for the exhibition...[which] may not consistently get under the skin, but it regularly sends a tingle across it."
P.S. BEAT the Bruins!