I am delighted to announce the publication of New Silent Cinema, a collection I co-edited with my fantastic colleague, Paul Flaig. The book features essays by a group of outstanding screen scholars–including Constance Balides, James Leo Cahill, Brianne Cohen, Jonah Corne, Brian Jacobson, Rob King, Jennifer Peterson, Brian Price, Catherine Russell, Yiman Wang, and Joshua Yumibe–as well as interviews with Paolo Cherchi Usai, Rick Altman, and Guy Maddin. We are especially grateful to Guy Maddin, who not only allowed us to publish several beautiful images from his ongoing Séances project, but also gave us permission to use an image from his most recent film, The Forbidden Room (2015), for our cover.
New Silent Cinema explores the recent wave of interest in silent cinema as it stretches across popular and avant-garde film, contemporary art, literature, and new media. The introduction is available to peruse here. Paul and I will soon post a conversation about the development of the project, the many examples of “New Silent Cinema” that did not make it into the collection, and the diverse directions that our contributors took in examining this contemporary phenomenon. We are very grateful to everyone who supported the project–and look forward to hearing from readers!
The Ithaca Silent Cinema community celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the famed Stewart Bridge trolley crash, staged for the Prince of India (Wharton Brothers, 1914). More information on Ithaca’s history in silent cinema can be found here. And if you are wondering whatever happened to the Wharton Brothers’ films: check the bottom of Cayuga Lake.
Scottish artist Sam Spreckley experiments with “surface and immersive sound.” The whole thing is worth a watch, but the first fifteen seconds are magic:
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/35786089 w=575&h=400]
More of Spreckley’s work can be found here and a recent interview is here.
Passed along by one of my students: a former communist film archive in Cluj, Romania becomes a celluloid playground.
Typical Figure, British Library
Last month, the British Library released more than one million images from 17th, 18th, and 19th century books to Flickr commons. They would like the images to circulate widely–and, to this end, have invited the public to “use, remix, and repurpose” them–but they have also invited the public into a kind of collaborative preservative-historiographic relationship. It seems that the library does not know a whole lot about the images that they have scanned. From the press release: Continue reading
About two weeks ago, a fire started at the archive.org scanning center in San Francisco. No one was hurt and, within 48 hours, employees were back at work scanning materials. According to the archive’s blog, they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cameras and scanning equipment, but most of their data was unaffected: Continue reading
July was a month of endless rain, many deadlines, and one fantastic screening of early film fragments at the Woodend Barn in Banchory. The highlight of the evening was Melancholia, a rescoring and reimagining of a film from the Miles Brothers by Ross Whyte (electronics) and Richard Craig (contrabass flute). The film captures a trolley ride through Main Street, San Francisco, just days before the 1906 earthquake. It is filled with remarkable (audio and visual) moments. Keep yours eyes peeled for the child in the back of a horse-drawn carriage who pulls back the curtain and magically appears.
[vimeo https://vimeo.com/46316708 w=575&h=400]
The clip could do without the sound, but still:
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/20465929 w=575&h=300]
From the creator‘s description:
The video captures an episode of the popular TV show in the act of being shared by thousands of users on bittorent. The video simultaneously acts as a visualisation of bittorrent traffic and the practice of filesharing and is an aesthetically beautiful by product of the bittorrent process as the pieces of the original file are rearranged and reconfigured into a new transitory in-between state.
I am working on an article that takes contemporary remixes of early cinema (examples here, here, and here) as a starting point for rethinking early film historiography. The exergue:
“I hope history can realize that its significance is not in universal ideas, like some sort of blossom or fruit, but that its value comes directly from reworking a well-known, perhaps habitual theme, a daily melody, in a stimulating way, elevating it, intensifying it to an inclusive symbol, and thus allowing one to make out in the original theme an entire world of profundity, power, and beauty.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life”
“The film act means an open-ended film; it is essentially a way of learning.” Solanas and Getino, “Towards a Third Cinema”