2002 Montreal Conference


Early Cinema: Technology and Apparatus

The Seventh International Domitor Conference was held at the Cinémathèque québécoise in Montreal, Canada, and was devoted to exploring questions of technology and apparatus in early cinema; in addition to investigating the actual technologies that made early cinema possible, presentations considered how early cinema depicted and narrated its own mechanical conditions of existence. Evening events included archival screenings and a magic lantern show by The American Magic-Lantern Theater.

The Call for Papers

The 2002 DOMITOR Conference will provide an opportunity to reflect on technology and its impact on the devices that determine the production, exhibition and reception of moving images. Focusing on the various issues that involve both technologies and devices will permit us to situate them in a more global perspective, one that is theoretical and intermedial in nature. At stake through the study of early cinema are new insights into the conditions, contexts and consequences of the emergence of a new medium at a given time in history. Paper topics will possibly, but not exclusively, relate to the following issues:

1) The relations between the technology of cinema and the art of narration. Did any mechanisms change work patterns or contribute to the complexification of narratives and the institutionalization of cinema as art form and full-fledged industry? Technological changes that followed the invention of cinema and had an impact on production and exhibition will be of particular interest here.

2) Specific material and technical properties that characterize cinema. These various technico-material configurations (types of cameras, of projectors, film formats, speed, range of possible sound processes, etc.) are very flexible, from a synchronic as well as diachronic point of view. Each of them comes with a specific set of constraints and possibilities, just as each of them is symptomatic of various choices and orientations which precisely contribute to the definition of the status of cinema as a medium and, more generally, to its intermedial status.

3) The impact of the new technology on other media and more specifically on their own system of representation and aesthetics. The time of early cinema is one during which different versions of the representational system, different media and even different technologies coexisted synchronically. As a new technology, how did cinema introduce a substantial, even radical, redefinition of the media landscape at the beginning of the century?

4) The impact of a new technology “moving pictures” on the audience, their perception of other media and their understanding of the world. At stake here is how the system of representation tied to the medium transformed, not only the subject matter of the expression, but also the reception system in which the audience found their place.

The conference is organized by the Groupe de recherche sur l’avènement et la formation des institutions cinématographique et scénique (GRAFICS) at the Université de Montréal, in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise and the Centre de recherche sur l’intermédialité (CRI) at the Université de Montréal, under the supervision of André Gaudreault, Isabelle Raynauld and Pierre Véronneau.


Allocutions d’ouverture / Opening Speeches

Robert Daudelin (Directeur, Cinémathèque québécoise, Montréal)

Joseph Hubert, Doyen (Faculté des arts et des sciences, Université de Montréal)

Tom Gunning (Président, DOMITOR)

André Gaudreault (Responsable, Groupe de recherche sur l’avènement et la formation des
institutions cinématographique et scénique (GRAFICS), Université de Montréal)

Séance I / Session I

Richard Grusin (Wayne State University, United States) “Conférence d’ouverture / Opening Conference”

André Gaudreault (Université de Montréal, Canada) and Philippe Marion (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique) “Du sable dans les rouages du dispositif”

Séance II / Session II

Jacques Polet (Université catholique de Louvain, Belgique) “Tours et retours de manivelle. La vitesse de défilement des images animées des premiers temps : les enjeux de sa variabilité”

Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm University, Sweden) “Cinema and Cultural Globalization – Trick Technology Paris/New York”

Matthew Solomon (University of California, United States) “The Birth of Cinema, the Death of Magic”

Isabelle Morissette (Université Concordia, Canada) “Le spectateur imaginaire et son role didactique sur la scène des premiers temps du cinema”

Lucie Roy (Université Laval, Canada ) “Pièces et vues animées. Une intermédialité d’origine”

Séance III / Session III

Panivong Norindr (University of Southern California, United States) “La Trace Lumière: The Impact of Early Cinema in Redefining Indochina in the French Imaginary”

Germain Lacasse (Université de Montréal, Canada) “Technologie et institution : la plus récente découverte maintenant disponible”

Jan Olsson (Stockholm University, Sweden) “Framing Silent Calls”

Richard Crangle (University of Exeter, United Kingdom) “Secrets, Lies and Living Pictures: Perceptions of Technology as Revealer of Truth”

Louis Pelletier (Université Concordia, Canada) “Les projecteurs amateurs dans la presse corporative de l’industrie de la machine parlante, 1905-1915”

Pierre Véronneau (Cinémathèque québécoise, Canada) “Les enjeux technologiques dans la presse corporative entre 1908 et 1914”

Séance IV / Session IV

Jan Holmberg (Stockholm University, Sweden) “That Thing Almost Hit Me! Virtual Imagery in Early Cinema”

George Gaudu (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Techniques du Théâtre et Université de Paris VII, France) “D’où viennent les films?”

Viva Paci (Université de Montréal, Canada) “La persistance des attractions ou le retour de l’éphémère”

Angela Dalle Vacche (Georgia Institute of Technology, United States) “The Founding of Art History and the Invention of Cinema: Hapticality and Opacity”

James Latham (New York University, United States ) “‘It Pays to Advertise:’ Audience Address in the Advertising Imagery of Early Hollywood”

Michel Marie (Université de Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, France) “La transformation du récit par le développement du tournage en studio chez Pathé (1904-1908)

Séance V / Session V

Tom Gunning (University of Chicago, United States) “Phantasmagoria: The Technology of the Moving Picture as a Model for Human Perception”

Frances Guerin (University of Kent, United Kingdom) “Bringing the Cinema to Life through Light”

Scott Curtis (Northwestern University, United States) “Making a Legible Image in Cinemicrobiology”

Ansje van Beusekom (Amsterdam University, Netherlands) “Film Ingredients: Early Applications of Film Technologies in Other Media”

Martin Barnier (Université Lumière Lyon 2, France) “1900-1914, technologie de sonorisation et modification des films”

Dan Streible (University of South California, United States) “Early Cinema: Technology and Apparatus”

Séance VI / Session VI

Alison Griffiths (City University of New York, United States) “Shivers Down Your Spine: Panoramas and the Roots of Early Cinema Re-enactments”

Pierre Courtet-Cohl (chercheur indépendant, France) “L’origine du banc-titre”

Jonathan Auerbach (University of Maryland, United States) “Self-Presentation and Self-Rehearsal in Early Cinema”

Président de séance / Moderator
Robert Daudelin, Cinémathèque québécoise, Canada

Pelle Snickars (Stockholm University, Sweden) “Cinema and Cultural Globalization – Berlin 1910s: Film Culture and Transportation Technology”

Isabelle Raynauld (Université de Montréal, Canada) “Le Cinématographe comme nouvelle technologie”

Paul C. Spehr (Library of Congress, United States) “Which Came First? A Look at Technology and the Inventors of Cinema

Séance VII / /Session VII

Alison McMahan (Vassar College, United States) “Proto-Cinematic and Cinematic Technology 1800-1930: The French Drive to Mechanization”

Ian Christie (University of London, United Kingdom) “Contextualising Paul’s ‘Time Machine’”

François Albera (Université de Lausanne, Suisse) and Maria Tortajada (Université de Lausanne, Suisse) “L’épistémé cinématographique 1900

François Jost (Université de Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, France) “Montrer, voir et écrire l’événement”

Séance VIII / Session VIII

Catherine Russell (Concordia University, Canada) “Early Cinema and Japanese Modernity”

Charles Tepperman (University of Chicago, United States) “Stolen from the Realm of Night: Streetcars, Electrical Illumination and Vitascope in Ottawa, 1894-1896”

Gwendolyn Waltz (Independant Scholar, United States) “2-D? 3-D? The Technology and Aesthetics of Dimension in Early Cinema and Turn of the Century Stage Performance”

Frank Kessler (Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands) “Le cinématographe comme dispositif (du) spectaculaire”

William Boddy (City University of New York, United States) “Early Cinema and Radio Technology in Turn of the Century Popular Imagination”

Séance IX / Session IX

Michèle Lagny (Université de Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, France) “Du multimédia au cinéma: effets rétroactifs du discours sur la relation entre culture et technologie”

Tom Gunning, François Jost et/and Michèle Lagny “Synthèse du colloque / Overview of the conference”


Les mille et une trouvailles: le disposition cinématographique raconte ses origines / Nights of Discovery: The Cinema Apparatus Recounts Its Origins

Five evenings of screenings were organized around the conference’s three themes: questions of technology and the apparatus; moving pictures shot in Quebec; and cinema’s prehistory, represented by a magic-lantern show by the American Magic-Lantern Theater, with Terry Borton acting as projectionist and lecturer, and singer and pianist Jacqueline Alvarez accompanying the show.

Le dispositif cinéma / Depictions of the Cinematographic Apparatus

Rosanna Maule presented early films depicting filming and using other cinematic “metaphors.” Live piano accompaniment by Philippe Marion.


Le Québec cinématographié au temps du muet/ Images of Quebec in Early Cinema
André Gaudreault presented early films offering a variety of “views” of Quebec, including Montreal’s fire fighters, a military parade, and more. Live piano accompaniment by Philippe Marion.

Technologies, dispositifs et trouvailles / Technologies, Apparatuses, and Discoveries
Pierre Véronneau presented early films using inventive new techniques in film production and projection. Live piano accompaniment by Philippe Marion.


La science et la vie moderne / Science and Modern Life
Rosanna Maule presented early films that “reproduced” medical-imaging technologies, such as microscropes and X-rays. Live piano accompaniment by Gabriel Thibaudeau.