"Ancient Cinema" takes the form of a speculative archaeological find in which recently discovered Roman artifacts from Zadar turn out to be the remains of the world's first motion picture projector.


Based on fabricated evidence, "Ancient Cinema" presents a working recreation of an ancient Roman movie projector.  Along with this groundbreaking discovery, the installation features a short documentary about the sourcing and analysis of the artifacts, and the evidence itself: the original artifacts "discovered" in a flea market in Zadar and at a nearby beach in Nin, Croatia.

Zadar was an important Roman province and trading post from the 1st century BC until the 4th century AD.  Numerous examples of monumental Roman architecture remain in the town, including the largest Roman Forum on the eastern side of the Adriatic, lofty Roman columns, and an aqueduct. Throughout the town there are numerous excavated sites, and shards of Roman culture still litter the surrounding countryside.

The most common Roman artifacts found in the region are fragments of pots, lamps, armor, glass and coins.  Occasionally, archaeologists stumble upon objects that are a bit more mysterious.

Ancient Cinema Artifacts Pprojector and Glass Slide

Recently, Jesionka discovered one such mysterious artifact: he purchased an unusual bronze object (seen above, left) at a flea market in Zadar.  The object had been dated to the Roman era but no one had seen anything like it before.

Digging in the area where the original bronze object had been sourced, near a lagoon in Nin, Croatia, Jesionka unearthed additional objects, including a cache of Roman hand-painted glass tablets (mostly shattered), a clay lamp, and an unusual coin with the Latin inscriptions "Sol Indiges" and "Inventori Lvcis".  

These artifacts, Jesionka is convinced, are the remains of the world's first film projector. They form the basis of the installation "Ancient Cinema," a meta-historical reflection on archaeology and storytelling, which includes a working model of the Roman film projector, projecting the world's first animated "films".