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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Mise en scène



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


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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Domitor Conference 2014



Last week I attended the 13th International Domitor conference, which took place in Chicago an Evanston, June 21-25. It was a very well organised meeting of Domitorians from many different countries discussing various aspects of early cinema and the broader media and entertainment landscape around 1900. Sabine Lenk (who unfortunately could not come) and I contributed a paper on the complex question of so-called “fake” films and in particular staged topical films, which at that time were generally marketed by the producers as “reproductions” and “representations”.

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