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! 


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. 


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. 


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.

Insta­gram-pro­file: maryf.3d