2018 Rochester Conference

15th INTERNATIONAL DOMITOR CONFERENCE, Rochester, New York, 13–16 June 2018

Provenance and Early Cinema

2018 Program >>
2018 Technical Specs >>

The very founding of Domitor thirty years ago, as an international society for the study of early cinema was the result of an important return to the archive. The reassessment of specific film prints and collections that continues to drive Domitor has led to profound historical insights into the chosen modes, styles, intermedial practices, and cultural investments of the early pioneers of the medium. This has led to a bottom-up approach to history based on archival research and implicitly rooted in the provenance of early cinema. An approach central to art history, provenance has been essential for determining the origins, history, and legacy of artifacts.

Early films as material artifacts often have a story to tell. Yet, the question of their provenance has rarely been discussed: the migration of specific films and collections, and who has developed, owned, accessed, and repurposed them. The movements of film—across formats and from producers and distributors to collectors and archival institutions—have shaped the histories that have been written. Given the growing dissemination of film in digital media as well as its recycling in experimental practice, the need for greater attention to provenance is vital.

Studying provenance can provide us with a powerful heuristic to assess the circulation of films through history. How might we connect the material provenance of a print to cultural and aesthetic history? For instance, how can provenance be deployed for thinking about the cultural circulation and influence of ideas, images, styles, technologies, and patents? What does the provenance of collections tell us about film heritage and the privileging of certain works over others? And how does the provenance of the non-extant, of lost prints and forgotten films, also speak to the antipathies of history? On the 30th anniversary of Domitor, this conference will turn to these foundational issues around provenance and early cinema.

Possible topics include:

  • Theories and methodologies of provenance as applicable to cinema historiography
  • The histories of specific collections and/or artifacts
  • How particular prints and/or collections shape film history
  • The non-extant: histories of the missing and lost
  • Media history told through the materiality of artifacts
  • Multiple versions of films and the uniqueness and circulation of prints
  • Print circulation and the migration of film style across mediums and national cinemas
  • Material history in relation to remediation, intermediality, and media archaeology
  • Early theories of film and their intellectual genealogies
  • The provenance of “cultural series” (e.g. theater, fairy plays, magic lanterns) and early cinema practices
  • The negotiation between specific prints and their recycling in art and the avant-garde
  • The exchange of film stocks, technologies, and patents
  • The circulation of export and second-hand prints
  • Cinematheque and festival exhibitions of archival materials
  • Formats and gauges: reduction prints, home viewing and non-theatrical histories
  • The legibility of provenance in digital form
  • The archaeology of early cinema in relation to contemporary media


We are particularly interested in papers that examine the history and legacy of early cinema’s place beyond the temporal frame of 1890 through 1915. As cinema developed unevenly across the globe, we welcome papers that take an expansive view of early cinema in relation to provenance.

Proposal Submission Process

Send proposals no later than 1 October 2017 to domitor2018@gmail.com. Questions about the process should also be sent to that address. Proposals for individual presentations should be no longer than 300 words, plus a bibliography of three to five sources and a brief biographical statement. Proposals may be written in either English or French. Only papers written in one of those two languages can be presented at the conference. Conference papers should be no longer than 3,300 words and must fit within a 25-minute presentation time (including audiovisual materials). For French papers, please submit final drafts by 30 April 2018 to allow for simultaneous translation.

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 panel.

While membership in Domitor is not required to submit a proposal, anyone presenting a paper at the conference must be a member: domitor.org/membership/. For more information on Domitor, the International Society for the Study of Early Cinema, visit domitor.org.


George Eastman Museum and University of Rochester, New York, USA 11–12 June 2018

Call for Participants >>


Panel 1: Provenance: From Analog to Digital
Chair: Tami Williams
• Paolo Cherchi Usai (George Eastman Museum), “Film Provenance: A Framework for Analysis”
• Barbara Flueckiger (University of Zurich), “Shattered Provenance in the Digitization of Early Film”

Panel 2: Archival Collections and Connections
Chair: Joanne Bernardi
• Camille Blot-Wellens (Université Paris 8 and Université de Lausanne), “Origins in Archives, Origins of Archives”
• Grazia Ingravalle (Brunel University London), “Beyond Film Artifacts: A Material History of Early Films at the George Eastman House”
• Nadi Tofighian (Stockholm University and Linnaeus University), “Writing Film History in Philippine Archives”

Panel 3: Piracy, Duping, and Copyright
Chair: Paolo Cherchi Usai
• Charles “Buckey” Grimm (Independent Scholar), “History of the Library of Congress Paper Print Collection”
• Hunter Koch (Columbia University), “Duped History: The Problem of Motion Picture Piracy in the Early Cinema Archive”
• Jane Gaines (Columbia University), “Piratical Practices before 1906: Why Researchers Find Exactly What They Are Looking For”

Panel 4: Paper Histories
Chair: Caroline Yeager
• Richard Abel (University of Michigan), “How Do Censored Films in Chicago (1914–1915) Complicate the Provenance of Surviving Film Prints and Their Analysis?”
• Norie Taniguchi (Waseda University), “How Newspaper, Novel, and Attached Illustration Shape Japanese National Film”

Panel 5: Canons of History
Chair: Jared Case
• Ian Christie (Birkbeck, University of London), “Establishing a Canon: Issues of Provenance”
• Ned Thanhouser (Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.), “Lost and Found: Thanhouser Film’s Provenance”
• Vassiliki Tsitsopoulou (Indiana University Bloomington), “On a ‘Balkan War’ Propaganda Film: Issues of Provenance and Attribution”

Panel 6: Issues in the Archives
Chair: Louis Pelletier
• Teresa Castro (Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle), Anne Sigaud (Musée Albert-Kahn), “Ré-interroger les films des Archives de la Planète (1908–1931)”
Julia Eisner (King’s College, London), “Lotte Eisner: Pioneer of the Art and Craft of Collecting”
• Bujor T. Rîpeanu (L’ Académie roumaine), “Le cinéma des premiers temps et la question de la provenance: le cas roumain”

Panel 7: Provenance through Transmedia
Chair: Clara Auclair
• Priska Morrissey (Université Rennes 2), “Les costumes du cinéma des premiers temps: de la scène vers l’écran”
• Vito Adriaensens (Columbia University), “Blue Birds in Dutch Gardens: A Symbolist Genealogy from Maurice to Maurice”
• Sébastien Dupont Bloch (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), “Jean Kemm in the Box”

Panel 8: Circulating Views
Chair: Michael Cowan
• Allyson Nadia Field (University of Chicago), Dino Everett (University of Southern California), “Something Good — Negro Kiss: Material Evidence of the Film Artifact & Early African American Screen Performance”
• Roland Cosandey (Université de Lausanne), “Les trois vies ou une histoire de la transmission comme histoire de réception: Le cas des films de la visite de Guillaume II en Suisse (1912) conservés à la Cinémathèque suisse”
• Debashree Mukherjee (Columbia University), “Proscription, Spectrality, and Archival Returns: Tracking a Lost Film”

Panel 9: French Cinema in a Global Context
Chair: Priska Morrissey
• Germain Lacasse (Université de Montréal), “La Passion de l’Historiographe, de sa ‘provenience’ à sa provenance”
• Clara Auclair (University of Rochester), “Thinking (with) Provenance: Drawing Trajectories in the Francis Doublier Collection at the George Eastman Museum”
• Danielle Crepaldi Carvalho (Universidade de São Paulo), “Pathé’s Films in Brazil: The Archives of ‘Marc Ferrez & Sons’”

Panel 10: Archives in the Middle and Near East
Chair: Kaveh Askari
• Morgan Corriou (Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis), “Le chouff’o’graphe Chikli. Circulations cinématographiques entre la Tunisie et la France au début du XXe siècle”
• Nezih Erdogvan (Istanbul Sehir University), “Lumière? Méliès? Cinevitagraphe? Film History and the Challenges of the First Film Screenings in Istanbul”

Panel 11: Frames and Slides
Chair: Colin Williamson
• Janelle Blankenship (University of Western Ontario), “Skladanowsky’s Lantern Slides: A Multi-layered Provenance”
• Mark Lynn Anderson (University of Pittsburgh), “The Natural History of Early Cinema at the Los Angeles Museum in the 1930s”
• Joshua Yumibe (Michigan State University), “Dreaming in Color: The Davide Turconi Collection”

Panel 12: Technologies of Vision
Chair: Josh Romphf
• Patrick Ellis (Georgia Institute of Technology), “What Made the Mechanicals Move? Postcards in Transit”
• Allain Daigle (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “Glass Empires: Nationalism and Lens Production, 1914–1918”
• Phillip Roberts (University of York), “Material History and the Residue of Forgotten Lives, or the Politics of Provenance”

Panel 13: Case Studies from the Media Ecology Project
Chair: Dimitrios Latsis
• Grant Wiedenfeld (Sam Houston State University), “The Camera Setup to Shot Ratio: A New Measure of Griffith Provenance at Biograph via the Paper Print Collection”
• Dan Streible (New York University), “Manifestations of Early Cinema: Paper, Film, Digital Video, and Metadata”
• Bret Vukoder (Carnegie Mellon University), Mark Williams (Dartmouth College), “The Great War at Scale: New Opportunities for Provenance in World War I Collections at the National Archives”

Panel 14: Experimental Pedagogy
Chair: Ian Christie
• Eszter Polonyi (Pratt Institute), “The Gems of an Unsung 16mm Public Film Archive”
• Christina Corfield (University of California, Santa Cruz), “The Peep Box’s ‘Expanding View’ as Virtual Reality
• Colin Williamson (Pace University), “Curating Early Cinema: Muybridge, Science, and the Art of Visual Education in the Classroom”

Panel 15: Distribution, Exchange, Exhibition
Chair: Patrick Ellis
• Jan Olsson (Stockholm University), “Palimpsests of Provenance”
• Paul Moore (Ryerson University), “Magical Exchange: A Provenance for the Film Exchange in North America”
• Michael Cowan (University of St Andrews), “Toward a Provenance of the Cine-Club: The ‘Kosmos Klub für künstlerische und wissenschaftliche Kinematographie’ (1913–1915)”

Panel 16: Useful Cinemas
Chair: Constance Balides
• Martin L. Johnson (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), “Establishing the Provenance of Early Advertising Films: Film Catalogs and the Creation of the Non-theatrical Market”
• Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm University), “A Journey on the World’s Most Northerly Railway: Renaming and Remaking of Swedish Industrial Films”
• Gregory Waller (Indiana University Bloomington), “Ownership, Exploitation, Repurposing: Tracking the Footage of the 1911–1913 Australian Antarctic Expedition”

Panel 17: Early Cinema and the Avant-Garde
Chair: Sarah Keller
• André Habib (Université de Montréal), “Finding Early Cinema in the Avant-Garde: Research and Investigation”
• Ken Eisenstein (Bucknell University), “Ernie Gehr’s The Collector (2003) and Ernie Gehr the Collector”
• Charlie Keil (University of Toronto), Christina Stewart (University of Toronto), “Provenance on Ice: Dawson City: Frozen Time and the Dawson City Collection”

Panel 18: Recycled History
Chair: Jane Gaines
• Kim Tomadjoglou (Independent Scholar), “Archival Object or Object Lesson? Bricolage as Process and as Concept in the Edmund Padilla Collection”
• Jennifer Bean (University of Washington), “The Vengeance of Prints: Early Cinema’s ‘Misuse Value’ in the Age of Globalization”
• Kaveh Askari (Michigan State University), “Circulation Worries”
• Tami Williams (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “Gender and the Film d’archive: Repurposing Early Film Prints”