2012 Brighton Conference


Performing New Media, 1895-1915

The Twelfth International Domitor Conference was held at the University of Brighton in Brighton, UK, and examined the relationship between performance and turn-of-the-century media technologies, such as the magic lantern, the phonograph, and motion pictures. Evening events included a screening of films from the “Brighton School,” and a magic lantern show.


From the 1890s to the start of the First World War, a new media culture of projected images emerged. Showmen and women, entrepreneurs, educators, scientists and others employed magic lanterns and cinematographs in a variety of contexts that shaped and expressed the social, cultural and commercial significance of these new media. Given that these silent screen technologies almost always demanded accompaniment (words, music, sound effects) and that the combined use of lantern slides and short films implied varied and sometimes complex programmes, these events were effectively always performances. Projectionists, exhibitors, onstage talent, musical accompanists, backstage crews – all contributed to performances that could include live music, song, lectures, narration or sound effects in union with projected images. The growth of this new media also precipitated the rise of the new film industry and gave birth to the concept of ‘the cinema’. Around the world purpose-built cinemas opened in the 1900s, creating new and distinctive venues. However this screen practice was not yet ‘pure’ (i.e. film only) as these early venues were also active sites for the exhibition of films within multi-media performances. Exploring the nature and uses of these hybrid and multifaceted new media performances at this pivotal historical moment (‘the invention of cinema’) and analysing their social, cultural, economic and ideological meanings provides this conference with its subject and purpose. By engaging these concerns in Brighton three and a half decades after the famous 1978 FIAF conference, we wish to address and expand the historiography of early cinema in light of recent explorations of the intermedial and performative nature of contemporary new media.

Papers will explore such areas as:

  • old and new histories and theories of media / screen practice 1890-1915 – challenging the established historiography through the study of screen history / theory in the context of its ‘performance’
  • new media performance practices – origins and histories: the role of showmen and their creation of programmes; the combination of the lantern and the cinematograph within performance; the use of lecturers, narration, music, song and sound; the rise of the new media travelling show and the use of networks / circuits of venues; the history and dissemination of performance techniques
  • the role of gender, race and class in shaping these practices
  • the social, cultural, commercial and ideological natures of these programmes
  • performance and professionalization
  • the industrialisation of the lantern from the 1880s and its impact on performance (e.g. the rise of manufacturers devoted to lantern projectors and slides, the standardisation of slide formats, the production of catalogues and the introduction of distribution systems)
  • the particular relationship between the magic lantern and the cinematograph
  • the use of recorded sound as a performance component
  • new media performances in the context of both national and trans-national practices
  • the venues for this history and their new media programmes, cultures and audiences (this includes the first purpose-built cinemas); architecture and performance
  • new media programmes and the city 1890-1915: tourism, culture, entertainment and economic development (e.g. Brighton and late Victorian seaside resorts)
  • new media and its intermedial and intertextual relationships with other performance practices (e.g. the circus, the music hall/vaudeville, pantomime, theatre and the travelling show)
  • the relationship between performance theory and new media performance, 1890-1915
  • researching new media and its performance: the archival challenges and opportunities
  • the (sometimes historiographically and theoretically fraught) relationships among new media of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries


Performing “Non-Fiction”

Gregory A. Waller (Indiana University), “Circulating and Exhibiting Moving Pictures of the Australian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1913)”

Rositza Alexandrova (University of Cambridge), “Cinegrammes from the Ilinden Uprising”

Rielle Navitski (University of California, Berkeley), “‘Mixtures of Féerie and Document’: Sensational Theater and True-Crime Films in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, 1908-1913”

Music, Opera, and Song

Beatrice Birardi (Società Italiana di Musicologia), “From ‘Chamber’ to Cinema: The Music by Carlo Graziani Walter for Gli ultimi giorni di Pompei (Italy, 1913)”

Bernhard Kuhn (Bucknell University), “Intermediality Italian Style: Operaticality and Metareferentiality in the Cinema of the Early 1910s”

Jaume Radigales (Université Ramon Llull, Barcelona) and and Isabel Villanueva (Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona), “Le rôle de l’opéra dans le cinéma primitif : Étude des cas”

Anupama Kapse (Queens College, City University of New York), “Song and Dance in the Indian Silent Film”

Exhibition beyond Theatres and Cinemas

Jon Burrows (University of Warwick), “Automatic Recreation: Early Cinema and the Amusement Arcade”

Oliver Gaycken (University of Maryland), “‘Denizens of the Deep’: F. Martin Duncan, Natural History Filmmaking, and the Brighton Aquarium”

Oksana Chefranova (New York University), “The Screen in the Garden: Moving Image Shows in Moscow circa 1900”

Music, Colour, and Sound

Christopher Natzén (National Library of Sweden), “‘Such Music Cannot Be Regarded as Real or Genuine Art’: Swedish Cinema Musicians in 1908-1909”

Mélissa Gignac (Université Paris VII), “Le son dans les années 1910 : un exemple d’autonomisation progressive des films”

Jennifer Peterson (University of Colorado, Boulder), “Lyrical Education: Music and Color in Early Nonfiction Film”

Joshua Yumibe (University of St Andrews), “Colour as Performance in Visual Music, Film Tinting, and Digital Painting”

Picture Personalities

Charles O’Brien (Carleton University), “Actors’ Performances in the Griffith Biograph Films, before and after the Move to California”

Laura Horak (Stockholm University), “Performing the Film Director: Mauritz Stiller and Vingarne”

Ian Christie (Birkbeck College, University of London), “Performers – On Stage and Now on Screen”

Chris O’Rourke (University of Cambridge), “In the Flesh: Personal Appearances and the Picture Personality in Britain before 1915”

Historiography, Nation, and Performance

Philippe Gauthier (Université de Montréal/Université de Lausanne), “L’historiographie de la performance dans le cinéma des premiers temps et l’émergence de l’histoire universitaire du cinéma”

Gunnar Iversen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), “Performing New Media and the Creation of National Identity: Kräusslich and Köpke in Norway before 1910”

Stephen Putnam Hughes (University of London), “Performing Authority at the Cinema in Victorian India”

Performance and Pedagogy

Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm University), “Health on Display: The Panama Pacific Exposition (1915) as Sanitary Venue”

Frank Kessler and Sabine Lenk (Utrecht University), “The Kinoreformbewegung Revisited: Performing the Cinematograph as a Pedagogical Tool”

David Williams (independent scholar), “The Letchworth Experiment, 1913-1917”

Kaveh Askari (University of Western Washington), “The Artist’s Studio on Display: Workspace as Educational Space”

Vaudeville and Comedy

Donald Crafton (University of Notre Dame), “McCay and Keaton: The Intermediality of Vaudeville, Animation and Slapstick Cinema”

Maggie Hennefeld (Brown University), “Performing Film Form: Vaudeville Theater and Early Motion Picture Comedy”

Gwendolyn Waltz (independent scholar), “20 Minutes or Less: Short-Form Film-and-Theatre Hybrids—Skits, Sketches, Playlets, & Acts in Vaudeville, Variety, Revues, &c.”

Pierre Chemartin and Santiago Hidalgo (Université de Montréal), “Learning Film Performance through Comics”

Transnational Corridors: Southeast Asia, the Americas, Scandinavia

Nadi Tofighian (Stockholm University), “Circuit of Commerce and Cinema: Singapore and the Southeast Asian Film Market”

Joel Frykholm (Stockholm University), “From Movie Palace to Media Spaces: New Perspectives on the Exhibition Contexts of the Multi-Reel Feature Film, 1913–1915”

John Fullerton (Stockholm University), “Reframing the Panorama in Mexico: Early Actuality Film and Nineteenth-Century Lithographs and Photographs”

Anne Bachmann (Stockholm University), “Trajectories between Oslo, Copenhagen and Stockholm: What Norwegian Male Stars Brought to Swedish Biograph, 1913–1915”

Old and New Media

André Gaudreault (Université de Montréal) and Philippe Marion (Université de Louvain), “D’un tournant de siècle à l’autre : l’animation restaurée”

Wanda Strauven (University of Amsterdam), “The Performing Screens of Early Cinema”

Andrea Haller (Deutsches Filminstitut), “Presenting New Media of the Nineteenth Century in the Context of the Twenty-First-Century Museum: The Case of the German Film Museum in Frankfurt”

Katherine Groo (University of Aberdeen), “Cut, Paste, Glitch, and Stutter: Remixing Early Film (History)”

Performing Resistance

Natascha Drubek (University of Regensburg), “Unruly Projectionists and Censorship in the Cinema of Tsarist Russia”

Denis Condon (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), “‘Offensive and Riotous Behaviour’? Regulating Irish Cinema Audiences in the mid-1910s”

Alison Griffiths (Baruch College, City University of New York), “Old New Media: The Time Warp Case of Motion Pictures in Prison”

Special Session: Digital Technologies and New Media circa 1900

Panelists: Richard Crangle (Lucerna database), Bryony Dixon (BFI), Luke McKernan (The Bioscope), Ned Thanhouser (Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.)

Magic Lantern

Valentine Robert (Université de Lausanne/Université de Montréal), “De la page à la performance, de la toile à l’écran − ou comment la nouvelle culture des médias s’approprie et transforme le tableau vivant”

M. Magdalena Brotons Capó (Universitat de les illes Balears, España), “Les plaques de lanterne magique à l’origine de l’image cinématographique”

Sarah Dellmann (Utrecht University), “Getting to Know the Dutch: Magic Lantern Series on the Netherlands Considered as Screen Practice”

Ludwig Vogl-Bienek (University of Trier), “Screening Sensations and Live Performance”


Alain Boillat (Université de Lausanne), “Projections fixes / animées : approche historiographie et théorique de la « conférence »”

Judith Buchanan (University of York), “‘Guttersnipe’ Dialects and ‘élocution soignée’: The Ranging Cultural Performance Registers of Early Cinema Lecturers”

May Adadol Ingawanij (University of Westminster), “A Late ‘Early’ Cinema: Orality and Siam’s 16mm Era”

Martin Loiperdinger (University of Trier), “Missing Believed Lost: The Film Narrator, Then and Now”

Parallel Exhibition Histories, 1860-1914

John Plunkett (University of Exeter), “Variety, Visuality and Town-Hall Venues: The Show-Business Legacy of Touring Panoramas and Dioramas”

Joe Kember (University of Exeter), “The ‘Home of Animated Photography’: The Long Institutional History of British Town Hall Picture Shows”

Rosalind Leveridge (University of Exeter), “‘A Complete Entertainment from the Moment They Enter’: Cinema and Community in the Coastal Resorts of the South West, 1909-1914”

Shadows and Circuses

Thierry Lecointe (chercheur indépendant), “Entre nouveauté et continuité : Le spectacle cinématographique, une remanence du théâtre d’ombres français?”

Marco Bellano (Università degli Studi di Padova), “The Sound of the Shadows: The Aesthetics of Music for Shadow Plays in Late-Nineteenth-Century France”

Canan Balan (Istanbul Sehir University), “Early Multimedia Performances in Istanbul at the Turn of the Century”

Annie Fee (University of Washington), “Circus and Cinema: A Fairground Audience at the Gaumont-Palace”

Literature, Visuality, and Early Film

Laura Marcus (Oxford University), “Conrad’s Figurative Understandings of the Cinema”

Jonathan Freedman (University of Michigan), “G. A. Smith and Henry James: Visuality and Fiction- Making circa 1900”

Special Session: Brighton 1978/2012

Panelists: Philippe Gauthier (Université de Montréal/Université de Lausanne) and Brian Real (University of Maryland), David Francis (Indiana University), André Gaudreault (Université de Montréal), Paul Spehr (independent scholar)

Technology I

Benoît Turquety (Université de Lausanne), “L’histoire des techniques comme source pour l’histoire des pratiques performatives”

Katharina Loew (University of Oregon), “Specters of the Theater: 3-D Cinema in the 1910s”

Doron Galili (Oberlin College), “The Invention that Will Out-Edison Edison: Early Cinema and Moving Image Transmission”

Ted Hovet (Western Kentucky University), “From Circle to Oblong: Standardizing the Borders of the Projected Image in the 1890s”

William Boddy (Baruch College, City University of New York), “The Spectacle of Technology: Cinema and Outdoor Advertising in Early-Twentieth-Century Visual Culture”

Performance Beyond the Silent Screen: Comedy, Criminality and the Fashioning of a Multimodal Cinema

April Miller (University of Northern Colorado), “Vamp until Ready: Parlor Songs, Pseudoscience, and the Ephemeral Performance of the Silent Screen Vampire”

Vicki Callahan (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), “Simulation Platforms for Writing Film History: A Scalar Presentation on Mabel Normand and Cinematic Performance”

Michele Torre (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), “Transforming Comedic Performance for the ‘New Media’: Lina Bauer Does Film Comedy”

Performing Femininity

Shelley Stamp (University of California, Santa Cruz), “Lois Weber at Rex: Performing Femininity across Media”

Liz Clarke (Wilfrid Laurier University), “Old Wars and New Women: Performing Active Femininity”

Diana Anselmo-Sequeira (University of California, Irvine), “‘Neither Here, Nor There, But Everywhere’: How Early American Film Disembodied Adolescent Girlhood”

Leslie Midkiff DeBauche (University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point), “When the Law Is the Audience: Codifying Performance in a New Medium”

Technology II

Richard Brown (independent scholar), “A New Look at Old History”

Paul Spehr (independent scholar), “Scopes, Phones, Graphs and Grams: Movies and Phonographs at the Introduction of Cinema”

Frank M. Scheide (University of Arkansas), “Freeman Owens: Early Arkansas Home Movie Exhibitor, Cinematographer, and Inventor of Motion Picture Technology from 1908-1972”

Stephen Herbert (Kingston University, London), “Recreating the First Cameras: A Twelve-Year Project”

Place and Exhibition

Marta Braun (Ryerson University) and Charlie Keil (University of Toronto), “Architecture and Performance: Toronto’s Screen Media Landscape at the Turn of the Century”

Paul S. Moore (Ryerson University), “Moving Picture Postcards: Local Views in North American Picture Shows before the Nickelodeon”

Leigh Mercer (University of Washington), “Barcelona on the Move: The Metropolitan Cinemaway at the Intersection of Tourism, Entertainment, and Urbanism”

Begoña Soto Vázquez (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid), “Cinema as Extension of the Train and the Journal: Considering a New Audience for the Cinematograph, Madrid 1900-1912”

Programming and Performance

Laurent Guido (Université de Lausanne) and Laurent Le Forestier (Université de Rennes), “Performance et projections filmiques : le cinéma des premiers temps comme programmation du spectacle vivant”

Ansje van Beusekom (Utrecht University), “Performing Films in Winter 1904, 1905, and 1906: Albert Frères and Their Exhibition Skills in Multipurpose Buildings in Dutch Cities”

Fregoli, Reynaud, and Lightning Sketches

Frédéric Tabet (Université Paris-Est), “La transparence du Fregoligraph”

Christelle Odoux (chercheuse indépendante), “L’application par Émile Reynaud de la photographie à son Théâtre optique : les Photo-peintures animées (1896)”

Jean-Baptiste Massuet (Université Rennes 2), “L’appropriation des Lightning Sketches par le Cinématographe, de la performance scénique au dessin animé”

Malcolm Cook (Birkbeck College, University of London), “Performance Times: The Lightning Cartoon and the Emergence of Animation”

Early Cinema (A)live! Sound, Body Performances, and Media Constructions of Presence

Wolfgang Fuhrmann (University of Zürich), “Listening to the Image: Ethnographic Film’s Long Beginning”

Kristina Köhler (University of Zürich), “Tango Mad and Affected by Cinematographitis: The 1910s Dance Crazes, Early Cinema, and Rhythmic ‘Contagions’ between Screens and Audiences”

Daniel Wiegand (University of Zürich), “‘Performed Live and Talking. No Kinematograph’: Amateur Performances of Tableaux Vivants and Local Film Exhibition in Germany around 1900”

Franziska Heller (University of Zürich), “Lumière Re-Mastered? Early Cinema Today and Its ‘Digital Performance’”

Reconsidering Early Japanese Film: Sounds, Stories, and Performances

Ryo Okubo (University of Tokyo), “Teachers, Benshi, and Itinerant Entertainers: Magic Lantern Performances in Japan at the End of the Nineteenth Century”

Sawako Ogawa (University of Tokyo), “From Kodan to Kyugeki: How the Japanese Storytelling Tradition of Kodan Was Assimilated into Early Japanese Cinema”

Manabu Ueda (Ritsumeikan University), “The Development of Regional Characteristics during the Emergence of Moving Picture Theaters: A Comparison between Tokyo and Kyoto”

Masaki Daibo (Waseda University), “Reception of Film d’Art and Its Impact on Japanese Sound Culture”

Stage and Screen

Ivo Blom (VU University of Amsterdam), “The Cross-Medial Case of Lyda Borelli”

Nic Leonhardt (LMU Munich), “Pictorial Dramaturgy in Theatre and New Media, 1890-1915”

Stephen Bottomore (independent scholar), “The Lady of Ostend (1897): The First Stage Play about Cinema”


Caitlin McGrath (independent scholar), “‘The Eye Is a Great Educator’: J. K. Dixon at Kodak”

Peter Walsh (University of Sheffield), “Standards of Practice in Transition: The Showmanship of Jasper Redfern as It Emerged”

Maria A. Velez-Serna (University of Glasgow), “Mapping Showmanship Skills and Practices in Scotland”

Artemis Willis (University of Chicago), “‘Marvelous and Fascinating’: L. Frank Baum’s Fairylogue and Radio Plays”

Special Session: Closing Roundtable: The Future of Early Cinema Studies

Panelists: Frank Gray (University of Brighton) and Scott Curtis (Northwestern University)


Blackwell Book Reception

“Dickensian Light and Magic: Dickens, the Magic Lantern, and the History of Entertainment” with Joss Marsh (writer/performer), Stephen Horne (piano) and David Francis (lanternist)

“The Brighton School – Revisited”
New approaches and insights on the work on G. A. Smith and James Williamson with Frank Gray (lecturer) and Stephen Horne (piano); presented at the Duke of York’s Picturehouse, the UK’s oldest functioning cinema

Reception at the Royal Pavilion as the guests of the  Mayor of Brighton & Hove (Councillor Bill Randall) and the City of Brighton & Hove