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New media technologies impact cinema well beyond the screen. This volume speculates about the changes in modes of accessing, distributing, storing and promoting moving images and how they might affect cinematographic experience, economy and historiography.



Introduction: In the Grooves of the Cinematographic Circuit

1. Introduction: In the Grooves of the Cinematographic Circuit

It has become commonplace to talk about the influence that technological developments have on audiovisual media. At some point in the 20th century, video and broadcast television came to disturb the traditional organization of the cinema, revealing the image as soon as it was captured and bringing it into the audience’s home. Currently, computer synthesis and online networks have even stronger effects on the medium as they increase the public’s agency in the dynamics of the movie market. Film, as Professor Janet Harbord has so concisely summarized, ‘is not what it used to be’ (2007, p. 1). A number of technological, industrial and social shifts have affected it in recent years, the most notable being the fact that film is no longer ‘filmed’ — at least not on celluloid. Inasmuch as this might be the origin of a crisis in medium specificity, it is also what allows film to seamlessly converge with other media, escaping from the bounds of cinematic presentation into potentially limitless sites of exhibition and consumption, from mobile phones to public facades.
Gabriel Menotti Gonring, Virginia Crisp

Through Many Channels: Distribution


2. From the Big Screen to the Small Ones: How Digitization is Transforming the Distribution, Exhibition and Consumption of Movies

From its very inception, the history of the movie industry has been closely linked to the history of technological development. However, the changes caused by the digital revolution are transforming the film industry at a more fast-paced and more far-reaching scale than anything that came before. Producers, distributors and exhibitors are being forced to respond to the popularity of the Internet and the success of digital platforms. As a consequence the ways of consuming movies are dramatically changing and the film industry is desperately trying to readapt itself to this new scenario.
Alejandro Pardo

3. Notes on Film Distribution: Networks, Screens and Practices

The chapter begins with the premise that the shift from analogue to digital technologies in the practices of film distribution and exhibition has introduced new ways of organizing, crafting and handling the materials involved in these practices. While under this light, the fields of media and cultural studies have recently drawn theoretical attention to the alternative, or informal, forms of film delivery (Cubitt, 2005; Lobato, 2012) or the transnational channels of legal and illegal film distribution (Wang, 2003), my intention is to shed light on the contemporary, local and situated working practices of a particular institution, the Curzon Artificial Eye (CAE) distribution and exhibition company in London, UK. In particular, this ethnographic study examines the work and technologies-in-use in two sets of practices: the analogue and digital theatrical projection as it is operated at the Renoir Cinema (a member of the Curzon Cinemas chain) and the video-on-demand (VOD) service ‘Curzon on Demand’, a streaming platform of non-theatrical film distribution and exhibition. Drawing on the methodological and analytical tools of the material semiotic version of science and technology studies (STS) and their call to attend to practices as constitutive of objects, this investigation aims to inquire on the materials, technologies and networks that shape and get shaped by the practices of film projection and exhibition. Relationally it intends to illustrate the generative role of these practices in the interdependent relation between the object of film and the object of the screen and as such to shed light on the continuously transformative socio-material networks that have been integral parts of cinema history.
Stefania Haritou

4. Catering for Whom? The Problematic Ethos of Audiovisual Distribution Online

The purpose of this chapter is to make some general conclusions from recently conducted fieldwork on one of the world’s most comprehensive, but also selective, communities for film swapping; I have chosen to omit the name of this community out of concern for its members. Specialist torrent sites like these are unregulated in that they are not sanctioned by the copyright industry — yet, internally, they remain highly regulated. The chapter will provide an overview and a discussion of these sites, and the way these are integrated in a wider economy of film circulation, user agency, knowledge and affects. In theorizing my findings, I will mainly draw on theories of culture and sociality outlined by Pierre Bourdieu.
Jonas Andersson Schwarz

Under the Spotlights: Promotion


5. 1-18-08 — Viral Marketing Strategies in Hollywood Cinema

Viral is a term now commonly used to describe entire marketing campaigns, or elements of promotional strategies for any number of consumer goods, services and media products. This chapter will focus particularly on Hollywood’s use of viral marketing, notably, more complex viral campaigns which encourage immersion in and interaction with the world of the film before, during and after viewing; allowing the viewer to shape, or at least appear to shape, their cinematographic experience. It will suggest that viral campaigns mark a shift away from what Justin Wyatt (1994) calls ‘high concept’ filmmaking and marketing. Campaigns for films such as The Blair Witch Project (Sanchez and Myrick, 1999), Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001) and The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) demonstrate a change in the relationship between producer and consumer to a point where producers encourage consumers to be active, rather than passive, by withholding information on forthcoming releases and daring consumers to follow trails of online clues to get at the information. This move to encourage agency, or the appearance of agency, in the cinematographic experience is often discouraged in other areas of the industry, for example, distribution. This chapter therefore questions the motives behind such elaborate online campaigns, arguing that the deliberate positioning of the viewer as investigator is accompanied by an extension of the filmic world (as opposed to simply an extension of narrative online) to produce a seemingly immersive experience. This can be, but is not always, reflected in the aesthetics of the film itself, and can transform a piece of marketing material into an entertainment experience in its own right.
Stephanie Janes

6. Terms of Intimacy: Blog Marketing, Experiential Desegregation and Collaborative Film Value Production

This chapter analyses communicative activities on the official blog of Miao Miao, a 2008 Taiwan queer-romance film, to grasp the film industry-audience relationship in a concrete case of Internet film marketing. The analysis focuses on the way in which Internet-mediated intimacy between the film industry and the audience has been implemented as a marketing strategy.
Ya-Feng Mon

7. On the Problematic Productivity of Hype: Flashforward’s Promotional Campaign

When, in May 2009, American television networks presented their fall line-ups, ABC s schedule was especially ambitious. Compared to the previous year when it had offered few original shows, the network now introduced seven productions based on a ‘portfolio approach’ that catered to different tastes and cost/production strategies (Berman, 2009). Among the additions to the line-up was FlashForward (ABC, 2009), a science-fiction drama that soon became the object of speculation. The series focused on a group of FBI agents investigating the consequences of a blackout that causes the entire world to lose consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds, during which time everyone has a vision of themselves on 29 April 2010.
Enrica Picarelli

In the Files and Out There: Curation


8. Audiovisual Archives and the Public Domain: Economics of Access, Exclusive Control and the Digital Skew

This chapter is situated within a larger research project looking at copyright law, film archival practices, and the accessibility of archival film and orphan works. In what follows, it will focus specifically on the concept of ‘digital skew’ — an asymmetry between analogue and digitized collections — which seems to inhibit the visibility of important works of film that are arguably crucial to our understanding of the past. Copyright gridlock has been identified as the main cause of the occurrence of a so-called digital skew in audiovisual archives. Some categories of works can be considered ‘legally difficult’ indeed; they will not be digitized and made available (as a matter of priority) and therefore contribute extensively to this digital skew. As a consequence of examining the accessibility of works that should be free from any legal restrictions — public domain works — it becomes apparent that even in that category the relation between what is potentially available in analogue form as opposed to its digital copy is skewed. By highlighting the varying practices in which both for-profit and non-profit archives provide access to their public domain works, the chapter reveals how the positioning of the digital skew exclusively within the legal paradigm neglects not only certain economics of archival access but also a contributing factor of a human agenda. The chapter argues that a reframing of the debate is needed and highlights how the digital skew is not to be understood as a purely legal issue, but as a more complex issue in which human agency plays a fundamental role.
Claudy Op den Kamp

9. Live Audiovisual Performance and Documentation

The document is situated between the ephemerality of the moment and the possibility of its fixity. Ephemerality is key to live audiovisual performance, which we define as ‘art-moment’. The term ‘live audiovisual performance describes an event of sound and image manipulation. Besides being ephemeral, events of live audiovisual performance share other common features, such as the use of technology for production and exhibition and the dynamic participation of performers and audience. Each performance is part of a continuum of time, marked by other performances and encounters, which together form the contemporary artistic context, thus contributing to future possibilities. To further describe the interrelation between the artists performances and other actions, we will look at concepts of time in the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. The chapter proposes a theoretical structure to define live audiovisual performance based on a series of relations rather than hierarchies. This structure will provide the basis for the consideration of a number of issues about documentation.
Ana Carvalho

10. Public Screenings Beside Screens: A Spatial Perspective

This chapter seeks to establish a spatial perspective on screens in the post-cinematic context, which concerns screens outside their conventional habitats like home and cinema. If contemporary urban living is increasingly reliant upon the use of various communication technologies (both ‘public’ and ‘personal’ media, such as mobile phones, tablets, information panels, computer terminals, billboards, media façades) this means that, whatever the device, interaction is mediated by one elementary form, the screen. It has served rather different kinds of communications in various epochs. Ever since the inventions of canvas and lampshade, up to the deployment of photography, cinema and television, dominant cultural forms of screens have been ‘the window, the frame and the mirror’ (Casetti, 2013, p. 29). Contemporary media environments now also include screens like touch pads, surveillance monitors and interactive interfaces, which means that the definite space of cinematic projection is now paralleled by convoluting surfaces of data (Casetti, 2013, p. 30). In turn, the showcasing of cinematic narratives concerning ‘electronic representation’, a space structured for sustained reflection, is increasingly supplemented with the streamlining of information, which is essentially about ‘electronic presence’ (Robins, 1996, p. 141).
Zlatan Krajina

11. Interactive Video Installations in Public Spaces: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Under Scan

Under Scan, described as an ‘interactive video art installation for public space’,1 was presented in Trafalgar Square, a tourist attraction in central London, from 15 to 23 November 2008 as part of the Relational Architecture series by the artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Apart from its credentials as the largest interactive video installation and the longest-running event to be presented in Trafalgar Square (Vanagan, 2009, p. 86) it constitutes an interesting case study for this chapter in order to demonstrate the ways in which screen-based works can function in a ‘media city’ (McQuire, 2009). Moving away from an art exhibition milieu (such as a museum or a gallery) or a cultural space where they can interact with various arts genres (such as a projection space, a music concert or a theatre performance) screens that operate ‘out in the open’, especially when they are meant to serve a purpose of interactivity, need to entertain and engage a very heterogeneous crowd.
Elena Papadaki


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