1994 New York Conference


Cinema Turns 100

The Third International Domitor Conference was held at New York University and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The conference celebrated and investigated motion pictures as they turned 100-years-old. Focusing on the medium’s first decade in particular, the conference was concerned with the impact of motion pictures on culture and society more broadly, which included cinema’s role in science, its relationship to other imaging technologies, its use as a vehicle for wartime propaganda, and many other issues. A series of evening events was highlighted by a magic lantern performance, conducted by David Francis.

The Call for Papers

“Cinema Turns 100,” an international conference commemorating the hundredth anniversary of motion pictures, will look at “Motion Pictures and their Impact on Cultures and Societies: The First Decade.” The Third International Conference of Domitor, the Society for the Study of Early Cinema, will be held at the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and New York University from June 13 to June 20, 1994.

Both in its screenings and presentations by a world-wide group of scholars, the conference will investigate the first ten years of commercial motion pictures (through 1904), as well as related precinema. At Domitor’s last general meeting, there was a strong desire to focus more narrowly on 1894 to 1900. However, scholars’ work need not be confined to this shorter period but rather should include it. Moreover, people wishing to investigate cinemas outside North America and western Europe are encouraged to offer proposals which address the theme of the conference even if for somewhat later periods.

Scholars are invited to look at a wide range of topics. The following is only meant to suggest possible areas as well as the diversity we seek:

  • Early motion picture technology: new research and understandings of the process of invention.
  • The mythology surrounding Edison, both worldwide and in the United States, particularly as it intersects or applies to cinema.
  • The uses of cinema for scientific purposes; its relationship to the social sciences.
  • Representations of the motion picture camera and “sister technologies” in film and film-related discourse. This would include those films that feature telescopes, the x-ray, still or movie cameras, and other apparatuses.
  • Diverse modes and venues of early film exhibition: scientific demonstrations, traveling exhibition, vaudeville, fairgrounds, etc.; the formations of exhibition infrastructures.
  • Production and representational practices in early cinema and their relationship to theater, art, painting, photography; the role of narrative in early cinema.
  • The initial appropriation of cinema by various institutions and forms of popular culture such as vaudeville, genteel culture, the church, the sporting world.
  • The first uses of cinema for purposes of war propaganda—Greco-Turk War, Spanish-American War, Boer War, Russo-Japanese War and so forth.
  • The use and effect of cinema as an extension of tourism and the colonial agenda.
  • Early conceptions and discourses about cinema: as a visual newspaper, as an extension of the magic lantern, as a story telling form, as a kind of theater. Visions of future uses.
  • The first decade of cinema as a way to make us rethink problems of film historiography and film theory.
  • Subsequent, but still “early” encounters for third and fourth world cultures; for example the first attempts at local production in Africa, the Middle East and South America.

Proposals for papers should include the following:

  • Your name, address, phone and FAX #s
  • A 200 to 500 word description of your proposed paper, suggesting also the value of your project. (New, innovative work will be favored in the selection process.)
  • A brief (one or two page) vita or some statement as to your work in film studies in general and early cinema in particular.
  • A statement of transportation and hospitality requirements needed to attend the conference. [We face a highly restricted budget but are eager to assist scholars who might not otherwise be able to attend.]

Deadline: postmarked March 1, 1993 (sent 1st class or air mail)
Those submitting will be notified by July 1, 1993
Domitor reserves the right to publish any paper presented at the conference.

The conference will be open to anyone wishing to attend. There will be a conference registration fee varying between $100 and $75, and between $85 and $60 for Domitor members [precise figures will be fixed in due course]; those registering at least one month in advance will be charged $10 less. Anyone wishing to participate in the conference will be able to join Domitor at the time of registration.

Send two copies of the above, one to each of the following addresses:

Domitor 94 Conference
Museum of Modern Art
Dept of Film
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019

Domitor 94 Conference
Department of Cinema Studies
New York University
721 Broadway, 6th floor
New York, NY 10003


Panel One: Other Technologies

Tom Gunning, “World’s Fair as Technological Microcosm: Cinema and Other Space/Time Technologies at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, 1904” / “L’Exposition Universelle Comme Microcosme Technologique: Le Cinéma et Autre Technologies Espace/temps à l’Exposition de Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis, 1904”

Guido Convents, “Edison and his Kinetoscope in the Heart of Europe: Belgium 1894-1900” / “Edison et son Kinétoscope au coeur de de l’Europe: La Belgique, 1894-1900”

Marta Braun, “Georges Demeny”

Yuri Tsivian, “ ‘Speeding the “Bullet-Message” ’: Images of ‘Elsewhere’ in the Age of Electric Media” / “ ‘Accélérer le “Message-Projectile” ’: Les Images d’Ailleurs à l’âge des Media Électriques”

Moderator: Antonia Lant

Panel Two: Cinema’s Cultural Intertext

André Gunthert, “Cinématographie Instantanée en France 1891-1904” / “Instantaneous Cinematography in France 1891-1904”

François Jost, “Les Images Mentales en Mouvement” / “Mental Images in Motion”

Jean Mottet, “Esthètique de la Disjonction, Temps du Spectacle et Stéréotype: Le Cas du Vaudeville” / “Aesthetics of Disjunction in the Age of Spectacles and Stereotypes: The Question of Vaudeville”

Donald Crafton, “Film and Picture Postcards, 1894-1914” / “Le Film et les Cartes Postales Illustrées, 1894-1914”

Moderator: Roland Cosandey

Panel Three: Nonfiction Film

Arthur Cantrill, “The 1901 Anthropological Cinematography of Walter Baldwin Spencer in Australia” / “La Cinématographie Anthropologique de 1901 de Walter Baldwin Spencer en Australie”

Karen Backstein, “Edison’s ‘Native’ Dance; The Representation of Native American Performance in Early Cinema” / “La Danse ‘Autochtone’ d’Edison: Le Représentation du Spectacle Indigène Américain aux Débuts de Cinéma”

Allison Griffiths, “Early Ethnographic Film and Its Cultural Contexts” / “Les Débuts du Film Êthnographique et ses Contexts Culturels”

Natalia Noussinova, “The Cinema in Russia Before Russian Cinema: Film History as Film Mythology” / “Le Cinéma en Russie Avant le Cinéma Russe”

Moderator: Robert Sklar

Panel Four: Nonfiction Film, continued

Stephen Bottomore, “The Third Dimension of Early Cinema Studies” / “La Troisième Dimension dans les Études du Début du Cinéma”

Richard Crangle, “ ‘Astounding Actuality and Life’: Early British Film and the Illustrated Monthly Magazine” / “ ‘Vie et Actualités Stupéfiantes’: Le Film Britannique à ses Débuts et les Magazins Mensuels Illustrés”

Dan Streible, “ ‘Fake’ Prize Fight Films of the 1890’s” / “Les Films de Combats de Boxe ‘Truqués’ dans les Années 1890”

Vanessa Schwartz, “Re-thinking 1895: The Public Taste For Reality in Fin-d-Siècle Paris” / “Re-penser 1895: Le Goût du Public pour la Réalité dans le Paris Fin-de-Siècle”

Moderator: Paolo Cherchi-Usai

Panel Five: Breakout


Richard Abel, “ ‘Foreign Bodies’ on the American Stage: French Films Create a Cinema Market Before the Nickelodeon” / “ ‘Corps Etrangers’ sur la Scène Américaine: Les Films Français Créent un Marché du Cinéma Avant le Nickelodeon”

François de la Bretèque, “Le Moyen Age Syncretique dans les Films des Premiers Temps, 1895-1912” / “The Amalgamated Middle Ages of Early Film, 1895-1912”

Alison McMahan, “Alice Guy-Blaché: Heroic Victim or Reactionary?” / “Alice Guy-Blaché: Victime Héroïque ou Réactionnaire?”

Mario Cloutier, “Le Journalist Néo-Spectateur, 1894-1914” / “The Journalist as Neo-Spectator, 1894-1914

Marek Hendrykowski, “Edison and His Rivals in 19th Century Poland” / “Edison et ses Rivaux dans la Pologne de 19e Siècle


Dominique Blüher, “L’Illusion Comique de L’Homme avec une Caméra” / “The Comic Illusion of the Man with the Movie Camera”

Jean Châteauvert, “Monstration et Narration: Le Statut de la Caméra” / “Monstration and Narration: The Status of the Camera”

Georges Gaudu, “Exploration de la Convergence entre Marey, Lumière, et Méliès” / “Exploring Convergence in the Work of Marey, Lumière, and Méliès”

Lucie Roy, “Sur le Double Statut de l’Empreinte Filmique” / “On the Dual Status of the Filmic Impression”

Dominique Auzel, “Emile Reynaud: 100 Ans de Cinéma?” / “Emile Reynaud: 100 Years of Cinema?”

Moderator: Alain Lacasse


Charlie Keil, “Visualized Narratives: Early Cinema and Contemporary Popular Arts” / “Les Narrations Visualisées: Le Cinéma à ses Débuts et les Arts Populaires Contemporains”

Martin Loiperdinger and Harald Pulch, “The Early Years of Oskar Messter” / “Les Débuts d’Oskar Messter”

Doug Riblet, “Early American Cinema and Newspaper Cartoons and Comic Strips: Adaptation and Representation to 1903” / “Le Cinéma Américain à ses Débuts et les Dessins Humoristiques des Journaux, et les Bandes Dessinées: Adaptation et Représentation jusqu’à 1903”

Kevin Rockett, “Cinema and Cultural Nationalism in Ireland Before 1914” / “Le Cinéma et le Nationalisme Cultural en Irelande avant 1914”

Rashit Yangirov, “The ‘Czar’s Pastime’: The Russian Royal Family and the Cinema: The Early Years (1896-1908)”

Moderator: Charles Musser

Panel Six: Reception in Early Cinema

Charlene Regester, “African Americans in Early Cinema History: A Period of Protest and Self-Assertion, 1900-1914” / “Les Américains Africains dans l’Histoire des Jeunes Années du Cinéma: Une Période de Protestation et d’Autoassertion, 1900-1914”

Greg Waller, “Motion Pictures as Chautauqua Entertainment, 1897-1904” / “Les Films en tant que Divertissement à Chautauqua, 1897-1904”

Frank Gray, “Paul’s Animatograph Works, Ltd., 1896-97: Mapping the Company’s Progress in a Field of Popular Spectacle” / “Paul’s Animatograph Works Ltd., 1896-97: Traçant le Parcours de la Société dans le Champs du Spectacle Populaire”

Malgorzeta Hendrykowski, “La Trouvaille Mémorable des Photographes de Génie, ou Bien l’Intelligensia Polonaise face aux Photographies Animées, 1896-1910” / “What Did the Polish Intelligentsia Expect From the Cinema, 1896-1910?”

Moderator: Lea Jacobs

Panel Seven: The Word and the Film

Claire Dupré la Tour, “L’Utilisation des Intertitres et l’Évolution de la Construction de Premiers Films: 1895-1912” / “The Use of Intertitles in the Evolution of Early Film Construction, 1895-1912”

Isabelle Raynauld and Patrick Loughney, “Les Scénarios des Débuts du Cinéma en France et Aux Etats-Unis” / “In the Beginning Was the Word: The Scenario/Screenplay in Early Silent Film (1893-1914)”

André Gaudreault and Germain Lacasse, “Le Bonimenteur de Vues Animées in Québec 1897-1908” / “The Showmen of Cinema, Québec, 1897-1908”

Moderator: Ben Brewster


Dozens of early films were shown throughout the conference, and evening events were highlighted by various cinematic technologies, including a magic lantern exhibition conducted by David Francis, and a night of films projected by three different early projectors.

Keynote Address, Wednesday, June 15
Jacques Aumont, “When is Primitive Cinema?”

Thursday, June 16
“Slow Fade to Film: The magic lantern before and after 1895”
Conducted by David Francis, Director of the Division of Motion Pictures, Television, and Recorded Sound, U.S. Library of Congress
Introduced by Eileen Bowser.

Friday, June 17
1890’s Projectors
A variety of films presented on three early projectors: the Amet Magniscope, the Edison Projecting Kinescope, and Powers No. 5 Cameragraph
Hosted by Richard Kozarski, Head of Collections and Exhibitions, The American Museum of the Moving Image

Saturday, June 18
“Projected Light,” by Corinne and Arthur Cantrill
A film-performance for two 16mm projectors, slide projector, audiotape, posters, artifacts, and two performers