2014 Chicago and Evanston Conference

13th INTERNATIONAL DOMITOR CONFERENCE Chicago and Evanston, 21-25 June 2014

The Image in Early Cinema: Form and Material


2014 Program

Early cinema emerged within a visual culture that comprised a variety of traditions in art and image making. Even as methods of motion picture production, distribution, and exhibition materialized, they drew from and challenged practices and conventions in, for example, photography and painting. This rich visual culture produced a complicated, overlapping network of image-making traditions, innovations, and borrowings amongst painting, tableaux vivants,photography, and other pictorial and projection practices. Film and media scholars have created the concepts of “intermediality” (Gaudreault) and “media archaeology” (Mannoni, Zielinski, et al) in order to account for such crisscrossing traditions and to work against an essentialist notion of film, while other disciplines have suggested ideas, such as “image-system” (Barthes) or “an ecology of images” (Sontag), to conceptualize the dynamic relationship between images and their context. Continuing in this vein, this Domitor conference seeks to trace the various interactions involved in forming a new moving-image culture, using the broad category of “the image” to examine intersections between visual culture broadly conceived and early cinematic form, technology, theory, and practice. Embracing issues involving both cultural forms and material technologies, we invite proposals that employ a range of approaches—from the methods of art history (including formal, social, and political approaches), to the nitty-gritty of archival research into the materiality and technology of the medium.

Possible topics include:

  • Early theories or debates about the nature of the moving image
  • The moving image and the still image: photography, chronophotography, painting, and other imaging practices in early cinema
  • Debates about the value of the image in modern culture; iconoclasm, iconophobia, and early cinema’s contribution to the (perceived) proliferation of images
  • Early visual analysis or interpretation of the moving or projected image
  • Discussion and practices concerning gauges, photographic processes, and image quality
  • The theory and practice of staging an image for the camera
  • Inter-arts articulations of the photographic and painterly in cinema (e.g., pantomime, theater, dance)
  • Technologies of image generation in early animation (e.g., registration techniques)
  • Scientific and informational image-making techniques transposed to moving or projected images
  • Images in early motion picture advertising (e.g., catalogs, posters, post cards)
  • Moving images and the practices of repurposing images across popular media formats (postcards, slides, advertisements, print illustrations)
  • The theory and practice of projection
  • Early preservation theories and practices
  • New approaches to early cinema image identification
  • Early cinema (e.g., the Paper Print Collection) and current practices of digital preservation, access, and reuse

Although we imagine the general time frame for the period covered by papers in the conference to be 1890 through 1915, we realize that cinema developed unevenly across the global stage. For that reason, papers treating cinema after 1915 in countries where early cinema practices postdate the proposed time frame will be given full consideration. Similarly, papers that examine the history and current status of early cinema’s place in the archive and museum are also welcomed.

Proposal Submission Process: Those wishing to submit a proposal should do so no later than 1 December 2013 to: domitor2014@gmail.com. Any questions about the process should also be sent to that address.

Proposals for individual papers should be no longer than 300 words and be written in either English or French. Only a paper written in one of those two languages can be presented at the conference. Papers prepared for conference delivery should be no longer than 3300 words and must fit within a 25-minute presentation time (including any audiovisual material used to supplement the paper). We request that all papers be submitted by30 April 2014 to allow for simultaneous translation.

Unfortunately, proposals for presentations that are not in keeping with the theme will not be considered.

Proposals for pre-constituted panels of three participants will also be considered; such proposals should be submitted by the panel chair and consist of the collected individual paper proposals in addition to a brief rationale for the pre-constituted panel.

While membership in Domitor is not required to submit a proposal, anyone presenting a paper at the conference must be a member. To become a member, please go to our Membership page.


Saturday, June 21

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
University of Chicago
915 E 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

7:15pm: Program I (66 min.)

A selection of films from the EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam.
All films will be shown in 35mm. Titles are in Dutch with live simultaneous translation. Live musical accompaniment by David Drazin.

The Artist’s Dream (1899, USA, American Mutoscope and Biograph, 1 min.)
Hanky Panky Cards (1907, UK, Urban Trading Co. [Walter Robert Booth], 4 min.)
Santa Lucia (1910, Italy, Ambrosio, 5 min.)
I Topolini riconoscenti [The Grateful Mice] (1908, Italy, Ambrosio, 8 min.)
Le Dytique [The Diving Beetle] (1912, France, Éclair Scientia, 8 min.)
Fireside Reminiscences (1908, USA, Edison Manufacturing, 7 min.)
Sestri Levante (1913, Italy, Cines, 4 min.)
Orgie Romaine (1911, France, Gaumont [Louis Feuillade], 10 min.)
Obsession d’Or (1906, France, Pathé [Lucien Nonguet], 4 min.)
Arthème opérateur (1913, France, Éclipse [Ernest Servaës], 8 min.)
Le cinéma lent et les mouvements rapides des animaux (France, 1915, Pathé, 6 min.)
The Spirit of His Forefathers (1900, UK, British Mutoscope and Biograph [James Welch], 1 min.)

8:30pm: Program II (22 min.)

The Night Sky (Artemis Willis, 2012, Blu-Ray). A lantern-slide presentation of the wonders of the universe, featuring digital animations of astronomical lantern slides from the Adler Planetarium, music of the spheres, and Terri Kapsalis in the role of the lecturer.

Sunday, June 22

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
University of Chicago
915 E 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637

Panel 1: The Image and Its Historiographic Challenges

Chair: Tom Gunning (University of Chicago)
Frank Kessler and Sabine Lenk (Utrecht University), “The Faked Image”
Allyson Nadia Field (University of California, Los Angeles), “The Archive of Absence: Figuring the Form and Material of Non-Extant Films”
Dan Streible (New York University), “Kinetoscopic Records and Digital Objects: Another New Look at an Old Sneeze”

10:15am: Break

Panel 2: Access, Image, and Context:  Online Archives as Scholarly Initiatives

Chair: Joshua Yumibe (Michigan State University)
Louis Pelletier (Université de Montréal/Concordia University) and Charlie Keil (University of Toronto), “Online Filmographies and Digital Newspaper Repositories: Film and Its Contexts”
Eric Hoyt (University of Wisconsin at Madison), “The Media History Digital Library”
Mark Williams (Dartmouth College) and Tami Williams (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee), “The Media Ecology Project: New Approaches to Early Cinema Access, Research, and Scholarship”

12:00pm: Lunch

Panel 3: Scientific Imaging and Motion Pictures

Chair: Scott Curtis (Northwestern University)
Ian Christie (Birkbeck, University of London), “A Scientific Instrument? Animated Photography among Other New Imaging Techniques”
Florian Hoof (Goethe University Frankfurt), “Moving Images, Graphs, Grids, and Abstraction: Visual Culture and Useful Cinema”
Oliver Gaycken (University of Maryland), “Cinema’s Plasticity: The Embryological Series, Early Cinema, and Animation”

2:20pm: Break

Panel 4: The Fixed and the Fleeting

Chair: Frank Gray (Screen Archive South East, University of Brighton)
Leslie DeLassus (University of Iowa), “Ruptured Perspectives: Stereoscopic Vision, Early Special Effects, and Film History”
Javier O’Neil-Ortiz (University of Pittsburgh), “Unstuffed Animals: Marey and Muybridge’s Counter-Taxidermy”
Doron Galili (Stockholm University), “From ‘Happy Combination of Electricity and Photography’ to ‘A Permanent Record for the Telectroscope’”

4:00pm: Break

Panel 5: Occult Images: Magic, Illusion, and the Supernatural

Chair: Murray Leeder (University of Manitoba)
Murray Leeder (University of Manitoba), “‘Visualizing the Phantoms of the Imagination’: The Supernatural, Cinema, and Interior Visuality”
Ryan Pierson (University of Pittsburgh), “’By the Pathway of Visions’: Vachel Lindsay on the Prophetic Function of Cinematic Illusion”
Colin Williamson (American Academy of Arts and Sciences), “Cabinets of Curiosities: Early Cinema and the Image as an Archive of Media Magic”

5:30pm      Dinner on your own

Monday, June 23

Helmerich Auditorium
Annie May Swift Hall
Northwestern University
1920 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Panel 6: Landscape as Iconography

Chair: Allyson Nadia Field (University of California, Los Angeles)
Jennifer Peterson (University of Colorado, Boulder), “Environmental Actualities: Landscape Topoi from Postcards to Film”
Gunnar Iversen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), “A View Aesthetic without a View? Space and Place in Early Norwegian Polar Expedition Films”
Kim Fahlstedt (Stockholm University), “Serialized Space: The Master Key’s Cross-Media Iconography of San Francisco’s Chinatown”

3:15pm: Break

Panel 7: Image and Place: Archaeologies of Landscape in Visual Media

Chair: Dimitrios Latsis (University of Iowa/Smithsonian Museum of American Art)
Charles Wolfe (University of California, Santa Barbara), “John Divola, California Landscapes, and the Cine-geography of Serial Photography”
Dimitrios Latsis (University of Iowa/Smithsonian Museum of American Art),  “Muybridge as Landscapist: Scenery and the Origins of Chronophotography”
Patrick Ellis (University of California, Berkeley), “The ‘Aeroplane Gaze’: From Air Show to Animation”

4:45: Break

Panel 8: Fascinating Images

Chair: Gwendolyn Waltz (Independent Scholar)
Denis Condon (National University of Ireland Maynooth), “Falling Desperately in Love with the Image on Screen: ‘The Flictoflicker Girl’ (1913) and Cinematic Structures of Fascination”
Sarah Keller (Colby College), “The Marvelous/Paranoid ‘True’ Image”
Frank Gray (Screen Archive South East, University of Brighton), “The Vision Scene”

7:30pm: Screening
Block Cinema
Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Program III (48 min.)

A selection of films from the EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam
All films will be shown in 35mm. Titles are in Dutch with live simultaneous translation.
Live musical accompaniment by David Drazin.
The Poster Girls and the Hypnotist (1899, USA, American Mutoscope and Biograph [Frank S. Armitage], 1 min.)
L’Album merveilleux (1905, France, Pathé [Gaston Velle], 2 min.)
Uitstapje door China [A Trip through China] (1911, France, Éclair, 4 min.)
Na afloop der kindervoorstelling in den Circus Carré, 13 september [After the Children’s Screening in the Circus Carré, 13 September] (1899, The Netherlands, Nederlansdche Biograaf- en Mutoscope Maatschappij [Emile Lauste], 1 min.)
Die Höllenmaschine  [The Infernal Machine] (1911, Germany, Bergische Film Gesellschaft, 5 min.)
Ongelukkige schilder [The Unfortunate Painter = Le peintre malheureux?] (1908?, France, Pathé, 5 min.)
Salti e laghi del fiume Velino [Springs and Lakes of the River Velino] (1912, Italy, Cines, 3 min.)
Der Traum des Bildhauers [The Sculptor’s Dream] (1907, Austria, Saturn-Film, 5 min.)
Le sculpteur express (1907, France, Pathé, 4 min.)
Tripoli (1912, Italy, Ambrosio, 5 min.)
L’Education physique étudiée au ralentisseur (1915, France, Pathé, 7 min.)
Une hallucination musicale (1906, France, Pathé [Segundo de Chomón], 5 min.)
A Midnight Fantasy (1899, USA, American Mutoscope and Biograph [Frank S. Armitage], 1 min.)

Program IV (25 min.)

A Pictorial Story of Hiawatha (Katharine and Charles Bowden, 1904). A partial reconstruction of Katharine and Charles Bowden’s illustrated lecture (1904-08), organized by Andrew Uhrich and Artemis Willis. Featuring original lantern slides from Valparaiso University, 35mm restorations from Chicago Film Archives, lantern projection by Terry Borton, and musical accompaniment by David Drazin, based on music composed by Frederick R. Burton for the Hiawatha pageant performed in Desbarats, Ontario by the Garden River Ojibway community from 1900 to 1904.

Tuesday, June 24

Helmerich Auditorium
Annie May Swift Hall
Northwestern University
1920 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Panel 9: The Illustrated Press, Actualités, and Early Cinema

Chair: Tami Williams (University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee)
Rodolphe Gahéry (Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre), “De la presse illustrée à l’actualité filmée (1895-1910) : l’émergence d’une nouvelle ‘culture visuelle de l’information’?”
Jérémy Houillère (Université de Montréal), “Caricature et films comiques à la Belle Époque : quand l’illustration de presse rencontre le cinema”
Rob King (Columbia University), “Comic Cinema beyond Comedy: Actualité Humor and the Moving Image”

10:15am     Break

Panel 10: Images of the World from around the World

Chair: Frank Kessler (Utrecht University)
Jean-Pierre Sirois-Trahan (Université Laval), “Arthur Rimbaud cinématographe. Culture visuelle populaire et modernité”
Yuanyuan Li (Zhejiang University), “Les images publicitaires du cinéma des premiers temps en Chine”
Teresa Castro (Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3), “‘Le Monde en tant  qu’image conçue’ : globes et images cartographiques dans le cinéma des premiers temps”

12:00pm     Picnic lunch on the lake

Panel 11: Visual Culture in Turn-of-the-Century Iran

Chair: Teresa Castro (Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)
Golbarg Rekabtalaei (University of Toronto), “Frankish City on Display: A Historiography of Iran’s Visual Culture in the Early Twentieth Century”
Kaveh Askari (Western Washington University), “Art Education, Photography, and Royal Painting in Qajar Iran”

Panel 12: Traditions of Stillness and Movement

Chair: Sarah Keller (Colby College)
Oksana Chefranova (New York University), “The Dream of Statue Vivante: The Moving Image between Sculpture and Dance”
Laura Horak (Stockholm University), “Animating Antiquity”
Valentine Robert (Université de Lausanne), “Realizations : la part picturale du tableau-style

4:00pm: Break

Panel 13: Life Models and Lantern Slides

Chair: Charlie Keil (University of Toronto)
Ludwig Vogl-Bienek (University of Trier), “Sentiment in Storage: Glass Negatives in the Production of Life Model Lantern Slides”
Artemis Willis (University of Chicago), “The Lantern Image between Stage and Screen”

5:30pm: Domitor General Assembly

6:30pm: Dinner on your own

Wednesday, June 25

Helmerich Auditorium
Annie May Swift Hall
Northwestern University
1920 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208

Panel 14: Bodies, Cameras, and Narrative

Chair: Paul Young (Dartmouth College)
Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm University), “Corporeality and Female Modernity: Intermediality and Early Film Celebrities”
Gwendolyn Waltz (Independent Scholar), “The Detecting Image: Saved or Betrayed by the Camera”
Paul Young (Dartmouth College), “Yours Sincerely, Lois Weber: Hypocrites and the Allegorical Mode of the Transitional Feature Film”

10:15am: Break

Panel 15: Advertising Images

Chair: Jennifer Peterson (University of Colorado)
Richard Abel (University of Michigan), “From Pathé to Paramount: Visual Design in Movie Advertising to 1915”
Martin L. Johnson (Catholic University), “An ‘Advertising Punch’ in Every Frame: Image Making in Early Advertising Films”
Gregory A. Waller (Indiana University), “Advertising and Visual Culture: The Case of International Harvester”

12:00-1:00pm: Lunch

Panel 16: Between Surface and Depth: Cinematic Pictorialism in Intermedial Contexts

Chair: Jörg Schweinitz (University of Zurich)
Jörg Schweinitz (University of Zurich), “Shared Affinities and ‘Kunstwollen’: Stylistic Tendencies of the Cinematic Image in the Early 1910s and German Art Theory at the Turn of the Century”
Jelena Rakin (University of Zurich/Princeton University), “Materiality and Aesthetics of Stencil Colors in Early Films and Applied Arts”
Daniel Wiegand (University of Zurich), “The Unsettling of Vision: Tableaux Vivants, Early Cinema, and Optical Illusions”

2:30pm: Break

Panel 17: The Technology of Pictorialism

Chair: Kaveh Askari (Western Washington University )
Vito Adriaensens (University of Antwerp), “Painting by Numbers? Pictorial Naturalism and Bourgeois Realism in European Cinema, 1908-1914”
Tom Paulus (University of Antwerp), “’Pictorialism and the Picture’: Photographic Effects in Early American Story Films”
Joshua Yumibe (Michigan State University), “The Color Image”

Closing remarks (end of conference)

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