EVENT Oct 20
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13th International Seminar on the Origins and History of Cinema: Virtual worlds in early cinema: devices, aesthetics and audiences

Organization: Universitat de Girona & Museu del Cinema
Categories: Film, TV, & Media, History
Event Date: 2021-10-20 to 2021-10-22 Abstract Due: 2021-05-05

The seminar Virtual worlds in early cinema: devices, aesthetics and audiences comes
from an obvious desire for articulating a clear relationship among cinema’s past and
contemporary audiovisual’s present. The nodal point of the project is the concept of
virtual worlds. As Pierre Lévy states, we assist nowadays before a “general movement
of virtualization has begun to affect not only the fields of information and communication
but also our physical presence and economic activities, as well as the collective
framework of sensibility and the exercise of intelligence. The process of virtualization
has even affected our modalities of being together, the constitution of a collective "we"
in the form of virtual communities, virtual corporations, virtual democracy...”.

At the present time, an essential debate in the study of early cinema consists in the
possibility of thinking in which way cultural series pre-exist. If the goal of early cinema
studies was no other than trying to analyze the cultural, aesthetics, economical and
social conditions which had accompanied the birth of a new way of expression, currently
the debate has been moving into the possibility of creating and establishing bonds
among past and present. In order to understand the emergency of virtual worlds, we
have to consider why dioramas or panoramas proposed to 19th century audiences ways
of immersion in a universe built by images. In order to understand how new depth of field
three-dimensional forms are generated it is necessary to know how from the beginning
of photography stereoscopic images arose and how these were already present under
the model of relief cinema in 1910. It is also necessary to know that despite sound film official institutionalization in 1927, a series of tests oriented to the search of systems for
sound synchronization were already carried between 1907 and 1908. Cinema was born
to expand itself beyond cinema itself because, ultimately, the notion or idea of virtuality
was already present in many of the visual devices which were created between the
ending of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century. It is for this reason that in order
to study how the virtual universes of early cinema were generated, it is necessary to
know the devices that originated them and the places where they were produced. At the
same time it is also key to know which were the aesthetic challenges that cinema
undertook beyond the moving images’ projection onto a screen. From the beginning
there were created spectacles such as the Hale’s Tours that simulated the movement in
a mean of transportation while the images were being projected or Mareoramas that
recreated boat travels, with the purpose of creating immersive type experiences. All
these elements proposed aesthetic proposals for which cinema was not unrelated and
that went through a desire of the virtualization of the experience, but also produced
certain audience models which seek to find a correlate between virtual experience
offered by the spectacles, with the new perceptive experiences originated in real life in a
changing moment caused by the modernity.

Paper Submission Guidelines

Topic A: Virtual worlds in early cinema: devices, aesthetics and audiences

  • Media archeology. The archeological study of the devices previous or
    contemporary to the cinematograph might be helpful to introduce the History
    of cinema inside a much broader process, focused on the evolution of visual
    devices, screens and projection/audition systems.
  • The viewer experience in the face of the visual spectacles. In order to
    comprehend the devices’ impact. It is fundamental to know which was the
    audience experience in front of the images.
  • Virtual experiences on early films. Another research path might draw from the
    period existing films, in order to check how new sensorial ways are glimpsed
    in them. The idea of considering early cinema films as spaces to the visual
    attraction can lead us to consider the realist simulation effects that they gather.
  • Immersive spectacles and virtualization. The study of leisure spaces from the
    past reflects the existence of hybrid spectacle systems, between cinema,
    theater, magic lantern which proposed specific forms of exhibition and
    enhanced the viewer immersion in possible worlds.
  • Bridges between the past and the development of virtual technology in the
    present. It is possible to establish a thinking that carries out a revision of the
    past through a double logic based on the analysis of the re-use by the new
    technologies of preexisting techniques and other based on the aesthetic
    reflection around virtuality modes in the present and its connection with other
    aesthetic achievements that were developed in a moment of transformation
    and reuse of the means of communication.

Topic B: pre-cinema and early cinema

  • Presentation of works in progress on pre-cinema or cinema until 1915.


Extension: Abstract of the communication in 60 lines maximum where it
appears the state of the question that is posed, bibliographical references, primary,
secondary or unpublished research documentary references and the novelty of the

E-mail to: institutestudis@museudelcinema.cat