History, Cinema, Digital Archives Conference

Since the advent of cinema in the mid-1890s, a series of technological developments has reconfigured visual reproduction in terms of screens, projection methods, architectural spaces of exhibition, and the economics and sociability of viewing. There have been intense moments of rupture when new configurations have superseded old: corporate management overwhelming small-time entrepreneurs; synchronised talking pictures eradicating silent; multiplexes engulfing single-screen venues; intimate viewing displacing public; digital formats driving out celluloid. In the early decades of the 21st century, it is the last of these, still underway, which compels notice and focuses attention on the future of infinitely morphing platforms. But let us not forget the screen’s past and the effect of the digital revolution on research into its history. Cultural and film historians, archivists and visual creators are all exercised by the spectre of dead media and the enchantment of new insights and methodologies.