Dirckspeppers Ghosteffect

The English civil engineer/patent agent Henry Dirchs (1806-1873) and the English analytical chemist John Henry Pepper (1821-1900) both devised and developed this spectral image demonstration that is produced by positioning a large sheet of clear glass at an angle, allowing objects and people to be seen through it while a brightly lit image of a person located elsewhere is reflected simultaneously from it. In 1858, Dircks worked out a concept for presenting a ghost on a theater stage, but his designs proved to be impractical. In 1862, "Professor" Pepper suggested that he and Dircks redesign the device/concept. In 1863, Dircks and Pepper jointly patented the device. The Dircks '/Pepper's ghost/effect was employed originally in Victorian theater productions to project an image of an actor from beneath the front of the stage, causing the image perceptually to appear or disappear depending on the lighting (bright or dim) cast on the actor; this theatrical "special-effect" is a hologram-like image that has the quality of an apparition/ghost through which other actors on the stage may pass. The "ghost" had some success in the theater, but getting the glass into position was a laborious process, and cut off the stage behind it acoustically. The effect was exploited successfully on the British fairgrounds, and by the late 1800s, the fairground "ghost show" had developed into one of the most popular forms of "walkup" show. However, within a few years of the introduction of motion pictures/films/movies in the 1890s, the "ghost show" became secondary to bioscope, panorama, diorama, and peep shows. See also IMAGERY/MENTAL IMAGERY, THEORIES OF; PERCEPTION (I. GENERAL), THEORIES OF; VISION/SIGHT, THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

Pepper, J. H. (1890/1996). The true history of the ghost and all about metempsychosis. East Sussex, UK: Projection Box.

Ferguson, D. (1995). Pepper's ghost. [URL: www.phantasmechanics.com/pepper .html].

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