June 06
16:00 - 18:00

Infrastructures of Mobility, Networks of Power

The Birth of a Mobile Cinema: Protoautomobility and the Phantom Ride, 1897-1906

My presentation will begin by examining the two films released in 1897 that compete for the distinction of being the first phantom ride film – Départ de Jérusalem en chemin de fer [Leaving Jerusalem by Railway], a Lumière Brothers production shot by Alexandre Promio, and The Haverstraw Tunnel, shot by an uncredited filmmaker and released by Casler and Dickson’s American Mutoscope and Biograph Company –and end with an analysis of what most historians describe as the last phantom ride film: A Trip Down Market Street, photographed by Harry J. Miles, and shot just four days before the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Michael Stock

Michael Stock is a Professor of Cinema Studies and the Programmer and Presenter of the Cinema Series at SCI-Arc, a series of free public screenings and discussions related to film, architecture, technology, and visual culture. At present, Stock is completing his first book, "Always Crashing: Automobility and the Cinema", which examines the myriad of ways automobility and the cinema are interconnected.

Moving Power: For a Media History of Portable Generators

From the earliest times of itinerant cinema exhibition, it became obvious that one of the important problems was that projectors required electricity. In rural or non-Western contexts, exhibitors had to bring along their own power generators, as no electric infrastructure was available. During the early period, they would often exhibit these sometimes enormous engines beside their screening room, as attractions in their own right. But this history of the power generator doesn’t stop at the end of the early cinema era. Whether in 1920s French provincial schools or in post-colonial Africa or Indonesia, rural projection depended on generators. Still today, they remain required everywhere the electric infrastructure proves unreliable (Nigeria) or at the geographical borders of that infrastructure – in the Indigenous lands of Northern Canada for instance. Power generators are integral to a history of mobile cinema, as soon as a wider geography is considered. They are decentralization tools and belong to the periphery. In fact, their presence qualifies the periphery as such, reveals the frontiers of infrastructures. Simultaneously, as media historians now turn to questions of energy (Cubitt) and environmental impact of the media industry (Vaughan), portable generators allow for a material history of mobility fully grounded in these problems on a global level.

Benoît Turquety

Benoît Turquety is Associate Professor in the Film History and Aesthetics department at the University of Lausanne. His latest books are "Inventing Cinema: Machines, Gestures, and Media History" (Amsterdam University Press, 2019); "Medium, Format, Configuration: The Displacements of Film" (Meson Press, 2019); "Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub: “Objectivists” in Cinema" (Amsterdam University Press, 2020); and "Des avant-dernières machines: Cinéma, techniques, histoire" (ed. with Selim Krichane, L’Âge d’Homme, 2020).

The Eyes of the War. An Archaeology of WW1 Aerial Apparatuses between Panoramic and Telescopic Vision

Defined by Virilio as “the extreme way to see”, aviation showed a widespread relation with the cinephotographic devices since its earliest uses. The outbreak of WW1 represented a moment of exacerbation of this bond, which however has its roots in earlier scientific and spectacular traditions, e. g. the photogrammetry. The contribution aims to describe the main aerial cinematic apparatuses used in the Great War, contextualizing their technological depth in light of two paradigms of vision: the panoramic and telescopic ones, retracing therefore the military importance assumed by aviation by the search for an all-embracing gaze capable of reaching never-before-experienced distances. 

Matteo Citrini

Matteo Citrini is a PhD Student in “Storia delle Arti e dello Spettacolo” at the University of Florence (3rd year, curriculum “Storia dello Spettacolo”). The title of his research is “An Archaeology of Panoramic Gaze. Technologies, Media and Visual Culture between 19th and 20th Century (1870-1918)”, in which he tries to reframe the main panoramic devices of those years following an archaeological approach that analyse the intermedial connection between techno-cultural discourses. He participated in: Workshop CUC “Ricerche dottorali. Fonti e metodi”, 2019 – His contribute focussed on the first panoramic movements in cinematography, tracing a connection between formal and technological instances and using the case study of a portion of Edwin S. Porter filmography (1903-1908) to describe the main typologies of panning in early cinema; Workshop CUC “Ricerche dottorali. Fonti e metodi”, 2020 – His contribute took the case study of my personal researches in the archive of the Istituto Geografico Militare of Florence to enlighten the richness of visual culture and media archaeology sources – both textual that technological, especially referring to the study of cartographic and photogrammetric images.

WIVES, WACS, WAVES, SPARS and GOCS! Domesticating Homeland Defense Systems in WWII

During WWII, in the Air Warning Service, thousands of civilians watched the skies for enemy aircraft across the US and called in their sightings to centers where volunteers tracked the flights. This “sociotechnical system” (Edwards 2003) integrated civilians into both a social and technical military network of observation and global surveillance (Farish 2010, 2016; Packer 2013; Packer and Reeves 2013, 2020). The tensions between those networks rearticulated militarized domestic airspace, or the “vertical field” (Parks 2018), by imagining a sky colored by constant vigilance, threat, and tedium, debates which continue to shape the contemporary national defense and the security state (May 2011).  

Natalie Greenberg

Natalie Greenberg is a PhD Candidate in Film and Moving Image Studies at Concordia University. Her dissertation is about the Ground Observer Corps (1941-1958).