The Sixth International Domitor Conference was held at the Università degli Studi di Udine in Italy and was devoted to investigating cinema’s relationship to other art forms; at the conference, cinema was treated as a multi-media form from the very beginning, but also as a locus of feedback between cinema and the other arts, from the stage to literature and beyond.
1. Impurity: models. The search for models of reference within already established and perceptually familiar systems (and, later, systems that were aesthetically legitimized) has characterized cinema from the beginning of its history. Whether as a result of an appropriation of figures and forms or of the appropriation of structures, systems of representation, signification, narration, the new medium was impure from the start. Within this huge network of contributions, exchanges, relations we suggest that, instead of working through accumulation, we isolate and explore some processes:
- the impurity of cinema before its “institutionalization” is different from the later periods. The ways in which early cinema approaches, incorporates, absorbs other linguistic systems or patterns of expression and representation deserves—and requires—specific and proper analysis.
- the relationship with other systems (and experiences and competences) has constituted a crucial moment of development of cinema (and of development of original resources) rather than an obstacle: the FrenchFilm d’Art, the German Autorenfilm, the Italian “symbolist” film are only some of the examples of this situation.
- the “naïve” if not “primitive” character of single contexts (for instance, the pre-revolutionary Russian cinema) can be questioned and reconsidered in relation to other systems (popular painting, illustrations, etc.). This wealth of references has gone long unnoticed for the loss of contact with the original sources. Many surprises await the researcher who explores this realm.
2. Impurity as defining the object “film.” The object “cinema” is more strongly defined in its relationship with “other arts.” The cinematic text is born out of the concurrence of an image printed on a film support, then projected on a screen, and performed frames (or ballet, or stage acts, or sons et lumieres shows, etc.), played registers (the bonimenteur), musical registers (the “accompaniment”), etc. The “film” is born from the melting of an art linked to the “technical reproduction” and other arts (performance, music, stage acts) unsubmitted to it. This is a point illuminated also by the 1999 International Cinema Studies Conference (“The Bounds of Representation,” March 1999) which can be here productively further investigated.
3. Cinema Theories. It is the realm within which, from the first decade of this century, the relationship with other arts has been considered in the most lively way, both in terms of differentiation and in terms of imitation. The later evolution of cinema has lead to the isolation, within this wide realm, of some tendencies, some voices, some contexts more directly attuned to that same evolution. Going back to those “wrong,” eccentric, unsystematic theories could provide a significant contribution to the definition of the subject (the “early cinema,” but also cinema after the institutionalization) which is largely still obscure (because of the retroactive application of later models).
4. Dead Ends. The relationship with “other arts” could have determined developments very different from those that imposed themselves as the mainstream of the new medium, that is, the narrative form: painting, pantomime, for example, had been fostered (and concretely experimented) in the early teens as alternative models of reference. These were not bizarre experiments, rather they were attempts to reshape, in these directions, the whole system of organization of cinematic “discourse.”
5. Cinema as extension. This movement has been articulated in various ways: the animation film as extension of illustration and comics; the “absolute” film as extension of abstract painting; the serial as extension of the feuilleton (and then how could we think of contemporary cinema other than as an extension of comics?). It can be interpreted in more complex terms as Jacques Aumont did talking about the process that allowed painting to dissolve into cinema.
6. The influence of cinema on the other arts. This is a huge topic that we could deal with only by focusing on an essential sample. Still, it deserves more systematic investigation of some fields: for instance, the inquiry into the non-cinematic forms of proposal and materialization of cinema, the analysis of a cinema which is practiced (and not only “simulated”) within literature, theater, ballet, painting.
7. Cinema as “experience” which effects other practices such as literary and figurative writing, musical and architectural imagination. It isn’t here a language, or a system of representation that produces insertions or mimesis, but rather a new way of being, the perception of a new form of existence experimented by the new figure of the cinematic spectator.
8. Cinema as element of revelation of other arts to themselves, moment of self-awareness of the process they are going through, occasion for a reflection on art, unthinkable without cinema, and still required by art itself.
9. Cinema as a communicative apparatus, seen in the uniqueness and “modernity” of its models and forms of social agency—and its relations and influences, at the same level, on the other arts. The relationship of cinema with the realm of the arts is also the relationship of a medium that inflects these arts towards a reformulation of their nature as media: systems of communication and social organization.
Leonardo Quaresima (Università di Udine), “Presentazione”
Tom Gunning (University of Chicago), “The Art of Movement”
François de la Bretèque (Université de Montpellier), “Ombres chinoises et origines du cinéma”
Antonia Lant (New York University), “Opera for Cinema and for the Female Filmgoer”
Leslie Midkiff De Bauche (University of Wisconsin, USA), “High Fashion, Costume Design and Character Type: How Clothes Helped Billie Burke Become an ‘American Girl’”
Robert Stam (New York University), “Cinema and Other Arts: Filmic Adaptations of Novels”
Natalia Noussinova (Istituto di Riecerche sul Cinema, Mosca), “Le Portrait de Dorian Grey par Vsevolod Meyekhold: de la littérature au cinéma via le theater”
Frank E. Kessler (Universiteit Utrecht), “Arts de l’illusion. La féerie sur scène et à l’écran”
Alain Carou (Ecole des Chartes, Paris/ENSSIB, Lyon), “L’autre art muet. Pantomime(s) et cinéma en France”
Amy Sargeant (University of Plymouth), “Architectural Amateurs, Architecture Professionals and Early Cinema in Britain”
Georges Gaudu (Université de Paris VII), “L’invention continue de la scène imaginaire dans le cadre de la scopie cinématographique”
David Mayer (University of Manchester), “Opening a Second Front: The Civil War, the Stage, and D. W. Griffith”
Gwendolyn Waltz (Hillsdale, Michigan), “Embracing Technology: A Primer of Early Multi-Media Performance”
Pierre Véronneau (Cinémathèque Québequoise, Canada), “Un combat intermédial d’appropriation: théâtre vs. cinéma avant 1914”
Leonardo Gandini (Università di Bologna), “Leaving Home, Leaving Theatre”
Gregory A. Waller (University of Kentucky), “Photodramas and Photoplays, Stage and Screen 1907-1915”
Victoria Duckett (University of Manchester), “Discovering Delaroche: Sarah Bernhardt, Queen Elizabeth and the Film Art”
François Jost (Université de Paris III), “Le film comme prolongement de la sculpture”
Francesco Bono (Università della Tuscia, Viterbo), “Il dibattito sul cinema nell’Austria degli anni Dieci”
Anna C. N. Van Beusekom (Amsterdam), “Film Specifics Rejected. Pre-modernist Voices Pro and Contra Film as an Art in the Teens”
Scott Curtis (Northwestern University, USA), “Aesthetics as Applied Physiology: Corporal Understanding in the Kino-debatte”
François Albera (Université de Lausanne), “Modalités de la vision moderne dans les arts et au cinémà: le cas de Robert Delaunay avant 1914”
Jean Mottet (Université de Tours), “Peinture et cinéma: la difficile invention du paysage urbain de New York (1890-1915)”
Muriel Andrin (Université Libre de Bruxelles), “Gorgô ou la Médusation: continuité et renouveau de la figure mythologique dans le mélodrame européen des annèes 10”
There were no panels on day three of the conference.
Ruggero Pierantoni (CNR, Assessorato alla Cultura e Spettacolo, Comune di Genova), “Il cinema e l’infelice terza dimensione”
Gian Piero Brunetta (Università di Padova), “Ut pictura cinema”
Pierre Sorlin (Université de Paris III), “Una pittura in movimento: l’esperienza dell’avanguardia cinematografica tedesca 1908-1920”
André Gaudreault (Université de Montréal) and Roger Odin (Université de Paris III), “Le cinématographe, un ‘enfant prodige,’ ou: l’enfance de l’art…cinématographique”
Trond Lundemo (Stockholm University), “La Dentellière and the Calculated Image”
Raymond Bellour (CNRS), “Le regard comme point de lumière et de mort (à travers Le Château des Carpates de Jules Verne)”
Maria Tortajada (Université de Lausanne), “Le cinématographe contre la photographie dans l’œuvre d’A. Jarry”
Richard Abel (Drake University, USA), “Reframing the Debate over Vaudeville and Moving Pictures During the Nickelodeon Period”
Edouard Arnoldy (Université de Liège), “Du music-hall aux musicals, du ‘film chantant et parlant’ au cinéma parlant”
John Fullerton (Stockholm University), “Multimedial Visuality and Intertitles in The Girl from the Marsh Croft (Sjostrom, 1917)”
Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan (Université de Montréal), “Trompe-l’œil et réception spectatorielle du cinéma des premiers temps: l’exemple du dispositif de représentation scénique chez Méliès”
Ian Christie (Birkbeck College, University of London), “Painters and Cinema 1910-1913”
Angela Dalle Vacche (Emory University, USA), “Cinema and Arts: The Study of Visual Forms”
Ivo Blom (Universiteit Amsterdam), “Quo Vadis? From Academic Painting to Early Italian Cinema and Everything in Between”
Andres Janser (Universität Zürich), “Architecture in Motion: the Kulturfilm and the Idea of Architectural Reform in Germany”
Lauren Rabinovitz (University of Iowa), “The Portable Flâneur: The Urban Vision of Early Movies and Picture Postcards”
Pelle Snickars (Stockholm University), “Vues instantanées. Stereographs, Lantern Slides, Postcards and Nonfiction Film”
Jeff Klenotic (University of New Hampshire, USA), “Cinema and the Art of the Sale: The Interaction of Film and Advertising”
Dick Tomasovic (Université de Liège), “Les greffes du corps animé: Winsor McCay, de la bande dessinée au film d’animation”
Charlie Keil (University of Toronto), “Patriotic Pageants in Toronto”
Yuri Tsivian (University of Chicago), “Style and Story in Early Cinema”
There were four evenings of screenings, each with musical accompaniment by Carlo Moser.