Originally a 19th-century parlor trick used in Victorian stagecraft and entertainment, the Pepper’s Ghost—named after British scientist and inventor John Henry Pepper—employs a light source and angled reflection to create an optical illusion. To achieve the effect, the stage gets divided into two areas: one that audience members can see and another that is hidden. Positioned at a 45-degree angle onstage, a plate of glass (or other similar surface) reflects a brightly lit object or person in the hidden room, which appears as a ghostly figure on the main stage.

This method continues to be used in theater, concerts, and live performance, often incorporating digital projection instead of a “hidden room.” Most prominently, this technique has been used to simulate live performances by celebrities after their death, but the Pepper’s Ghost has also long fascinated contemporary artists, who have replicated or experimented with the technique in multimedia installation works.

Works

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