A Trip to the Underworld
written for the stereosite by Mary Friargiu, Italy
Ladies and Gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts because we are going to embark on a trip to the Underworld! This is a series of “Modern Diableries” inspired by the original French Tissue stereo cards. But what are those? French Tissues are a type of stereo card that, when viewed from the front, appear in plain black & white or sepia, like any standard stereo card. However, when illuminated from behind it magically shows brilliant colours and special effects, such as glowing red eyes through tiny pin-holes, and flames created with tiny cuts.
The Diableries, very popular in the 1860s (Habert and Hennetier were the most famous authors), depict life in Hell: from walking skeletons with glowing red eyes, to ghouls, and even the Devil himself! At the time of Napoleon III, these stereo views were a strong political and social tool bound to analyse and criticize the French society. And even if some scenes would look quite amusing, they would also hide a deep meaning behind it.
While most of the time the original Diableries were intended to be scary, my approach and interpretation on such Devilments is mostly cheerful and entertaining – we’ll see the skeletons dancing, having parties and taking on various adventures. The models for these stereos are not made from clay as in Victorian times, but tiny plastic skeletons paired with tiny props coming from a dollhouse shop. The background to such scenes is usually cardboard, adorned differently on each occasion.
This is what a dance floor would look like in Hell. The skeletons are dancing under the disco ball (a Christmas ornament) and they’re truly having the time of their after-life.
A Halloween-themed scene featuring a spooky pumpkin in the same style of the Diableries. If you look closely, you’ll notice one of them got so excited he even lost his head!
LE CARNIVAL DES DIABLERIES
Carnival is a very popular holiday in Italy so I wanted to pay homage to it. The skeletons are wearing colourful masks and top hats I made from paper.
We’re attending an interesting lesson of astronomy; someone is raising his hand to ask a question. The crescent moon was made out of an old CD, and the stars in the background are rhinestones.
A hellish concert is happening here, and the two stars are being applauded by a small audience.
QUAND LA FÊTE EST FINIE
This is a New Year’s Eve party and the skeletons are quite drunk! A tiny bottle of champagne can be spotted amongst the confetti.
THÉ EN APRÈS-MIDI
A fancy tea party in an exclusive club. These skeletons must be British!
Mary Friargiu (Iglesias, Sardinia, Italy)
I developed my passion for photography during the past couple of years. My interest in stereoscopy, came from the re-establishment of The London Stereoscopic Company and Dr. Brian May’s encouragement to take stereo photographs. I’ve been intrigued by his stereographs, so when I discovered that I could make my own stereo pictures, I was keen to learn everything about stereoscopy. To me, it’s the best way to connect with everything that surrounds me. I use my Smartphone camera (Samsung Galaxy A41) to take stereos; my favourite subjects are landscapes and flowers.