Sound Before Sound. Aurality in Early and "Silent" Cinema
Universitè de Lausanne
Antwerp University/Universitè Libre de Bruxelles
Nico De Klerk
Università degli Studi di Padova
Università degli Studi di Padova
“From Ear to Toe": Sound Machines and the Technical Body
Benoît Turquety (Universitè de Lausanne)
Optical toys were rather moved by hand, directly or through the mediation of a crank. But in fact, pedals circulated throughout technicized culture, particularly in sound machines. They linked media with industrial machines and everyday technical objects. Wordsworth Donisthorpe’s 1889 Kinesigraph camera project adopted the exact same driving system. But pedals also show important genealogies as musical and sound devices, from organ pedalboards to pedal steel guitars, sometimes fitted with knee levers. Considering pedals in media and sound machines can help us reformulate the concept of gesture, and question again the extent of our interactions with techniques and dispositives. As phone charging cycles in train stations show, pedals still today recruit humans within the global “networks of power” (Hughes 1983) that organize the circulations of matter, information and energy. Using media can be quite tiring.
The Voice of the Lecturer. Image-Word Relations in Optical Lantern and Early Film Performances
Sabine Lenk (Antwerp University/Universitè Libre de Bruxelles), Frank Kessler (Utrecht Universiteit)
In 1904, The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger became The Optical Lantern and Cinematograph Journal. The cinematograph, in other words, was considered mostly a variant of the optical lantern, and in numerous cases, projections of slides and films shared the same screen. The mode of address generally was not exclusively a visual one, but also included sounds and, more in particular, speech. The full effect of a projection could only unfold in its actual performance. We will focus mainly on non-fictional forms of lecturing, as public lantern projections more often than not used the projected image for other purposes than pure entertainment. Our contention is that the relation between word and image may have changed when the lecturer passed from still to moving images, also because the affordances of both differ to some extent. With our contribution we would like to address issues relevant for both the position of the lantern and early cinema with regard to listening cultures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the archaeology of the auditory dimension of screen practices.
Lantern Readings: what do they do?
Nico de Klerk (Utrecht Universiteit)
Complementary to the proposal by Kessler and Lenk, I’d like to raise a few questions for discussion about lantern readings, the brochures or booklets that were to a greater or lesser extent the basis of the spoken element of photographically illustrated lectures and provided continuity and coherence to a sequence of projected images. My first question concerns the difference in the material heritage of lecture notes or texts for film and for lantern shows. Secondly, a question regarding what it is what one is reading when reading a lantern reading. Based on a selective inventory of c. 3,300 lantern readings, in British and French repositories, roughly half of these were specifically meant for educational or edifying, public illustrated lectures.
Finally, on the assumption that, in performance, the lecture is central in sustaining the social occasion of the illustrated lecture, I take them as being a priori incomplete because of the high probability of (seemingly) impromptu utterances that are commonly unrecorded. Together these utterances address the interactive situation that lecture is, too, rather than the content the lecture was announced to discuss.
The Sound of Travelling. Soundscapes of Travelogues and Stereoscopic Photography in the late XIX-early XX century.
Marco Bellano, Alberto Zotti (Università degli studi di Padova)
In a media archeology perspective, some aspects of the Underwood and Keystone systems might be considered forerunners of the contemporary geolocation technologies, as the use of maps intended to give the stereoscope user a more definite sensation of place while looking at 3D images. Even though the stereoscopes and the travelogues invited a sensorial focus which was primarily visual, the experiences they elicited also implied an aural engagement. In fact, not only the travelogues were guided by speech, but Stoddard even involved a full orchestra in his 1883-1884 conference season in Chicago (Barber 1993, 73). In the travelogues of Holmes, pictures and films of musicians playing instruments were several times offered, especially in respect to far East and African countries, in order to dote on their exotic flair. The proposed talk will comment on how sonic suggestions, imaginary or real, participated in constructing a psychological illusion of travelling in late XIX-early XX century media archeology.