Images Across Borders

Recently, two publications came out that are linked to the research project “The Nation and Its Other“, which I conducted from 2010 to 2014.

One is Dafna Ruppin’s revised dissertation that was published by John Libbey as The Komedi Bioscoop: Early Cinema in Colonial Indonesia. This pioneering study retraces the history of moving pictures in the Netherlands Indies between 1896 and 1914, from the first screening in Batavia (present-day Jakarta) on October 11, 1896 by the traveling exhibitor Louis Talbot to the existence of a full-fledged cinema landscape by the early 1910s.

The other is a special issue of Early Popular Visual Culture (14, 2) dedicated to “Encounters Across Borders”, which I co-edited with Sarah Dellmann. It contains a study by Giorgio Bertellini on Italian propaganda efforts in the USA following reports on Italian atrocities during the Italian-Turkish War (1911-1912), while Klaas de Zwaan and Adrian Gerber present a comparative study of the film The Battle Cry of Peace (1915) in the two neutral countries of Switzerland and the Netherlands during the First World War. Matthew Solomon contributes an analysis of the transnational distribution of Georges Méliès’s films between 1896 and 1908. Dafna Ruppin and Nadi Tofighian examine the various companies operating under the name of American Biograph as traveling exhibitors in South East Asia.

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Machines Magic Media

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The beautiful castle of Cerisy-la-Salle is an ideal place to discuss the complex interrelationships between media, magic and technology. I am one of the organisers of this conference which is part of an international research project (for more details look here). Academics and magicians explore together various aspects of this subject. Besides lectures and round table discussions there are performances and film shows. Sabine Lenk and I present a paper entitled “Magie spectaculaire: pour une esthétique de l’émerveillement”.

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A Million Pictures

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About a year ago, in June 2016, the JPI Heritage Plus project “A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning” started and it will run until May 2018. It aims at exploring the educational use of magic lanterns in the 19th century, to help institutions holding slide collections with guidelines, if they want to digitize slides and make them available to larger audiences, and to stimulate creative reuse of the material. The project brings together researchers from Utrecht University (NL), University of Exeter (UK), University of Antwerp (BE), University of Girona (ES), University of Salamanca (ES) as well as many Associated Partners.

“A Million Pictures” organized a panel on “Projecting the Human Body: A Transmedial Perspective” at the 14th International Domitor Conference in Stockholm on “Viscera, Skin, and Physical Form: Corporeality and Early Cinema”.

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Mise en scène

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I published a little book on the concept of mise en scène, which forms part of a trilogy, together with Jacques Aumont’s Montage and Timothy Barnard’s Découpage. The book was published by the Montreal-based publisher caboose in their Kino-Agora series.

The book sketches the history of the term from its origins in theatre in the 19th century to contemporary discussions of special FX-heavy movies, where mise en scène seems to be all but absent, looking in particular at the discussions of the term among the critics of Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Notes on the Concept of Cultural Series

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In 2013 the Media & Performance Seminar here at Utrecht University was dedicated to the concept of “series”. In one of the sessions I presented a paper on the concept of “Cultural Series”, proposed by Gaudreault at the 1996 conference on Méliès held at Cerisy la Salle. I reworked that presentation into a working document for our research project The Nation and Its Other and uploaded it to the repository of our library. You can find the full text in open access here.

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