The Vatican to Vegas by Norman M. Klein
The History of Special Effects

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A richly illustrated journey through five centuries of optical illusions and other wonders.

Special effects...are coup de théatres, thunderclaps that shock you: a burst; an eruption; something small, like an insect down your back; a wall dissolving suddenly.—from The Vatican to Vegas

A guided tour through special-effects environments from 1550 to the present, Norman Klein's The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects demonstrates how Renaissance and early Baroque artists pioneered interactive, cinematic, and even digital environments. As in our era, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century illusion serviced a global culture and even relied on "software" of a kind: solid geometry for architecture, optics, sculpture, painting and theater. As if from a cryonic thaw, these forms have reemerged very clearly in recent decades. And to manage all this friendly disaster, modern special effects have evolved a unique grammar as precise as the rules of film, theater, and music. Klein reviews this syntax and demonstrates how special effects are not only a barometer for politics, myths of identity and economic relations, but an instructive parallel for understanding where our civilization may be headed next.


About Norman M. Klein

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Klein is a cultural critic, media and urban historian. He is a professor at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.
Published March 25, 2004 by New Press, The. 320 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Vatican to Vegas

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This vast and lavish study by Klein, a professor at the California Institute of the Arts, more than fulfills the promise of its title, but it is less a straightforwardly technical "history of special effects" Hollywood style than an account of history as special effect, as mediated spectacle and...

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A polymathic, all-embracing, skeptical collage in which Klein, who teaches at the California Institute of the Arts, explores special effects from Renaissance and early Baroque artists’ cultural domes, through trompe l’oeil and the great expositions of the Industrial Revolution to cinema, video ga...

Apr 14 2005 | Read Full Review of The Vatican to Vegas: The His...

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