Lecture in Groningen






  Ill.: La Nature 27 December 1890


Yesterday I gave a lecture at Groningen University on “Media Histories / Media Dispositifs: The Case of 3-D Technology”. I was invited by the group “Arts, Media, Moving Images” at the Research Centre for Arts in Society. My argument went as follows: rather than adhering to the linear history that we encounter in numerous accounts and which basically draws a more or less straight line from Charles Wheatstone’s stereoscope of 1838 to today’s 3-D cinema and beyond that to Virtual Reality headsets, it is much more productive to look at how the various dispositifs  actually worked, how they addressed their audiences, how they functioned and what kind of effect they aimed at producing. Stereoscopy participated in a number of cultural series, and this is something which becomes virtually invisible when we think in terms of a linear history.


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Two Conferences in Montreal


From May 18-20 Sabine Lenk and I participated at the 3rd conference of the International Society for Media Studies on the intriguing topic of “Authentic Artifice”, held at the Université de Montréal. We presented a paper entitled “‘Rendre réel aux yeux du public…’ – Stage Craft, Film Tricks, and the Féerie”. The genre of féerie is indeed a fascinating case of “authentic artifice”, flaunting its artificiality and the sophisticated effects that are used to create a seemingly naive fairytale world.




At the second conference “Cinema in the Eye of the Collector” at the Cinémathèque québecoise, June 4-8, Sabine Lenk presents the Robert Vrielynck collection, which is held by the Museum voor hedendaagse kunst Antwerp, and I will talk about the media archaeological collection, which the late Werner Nekes has presented in his film Was geschah wirklich zwischen den Bildern and in his Media Magica-series as well as in numerous exhibitions.






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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

arts tompeurs


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



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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