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Dead medium: Silent Film, Diorama, Panorama
From: (Alan Wexelblat)
Source(s): VIEWING POSITIONS: WAYS OF SEEING FILM, Linda Williams (ed.), Rutgers University Press 1995 ISBN 0-8135-2133-5, 1995.

This collection of essays deals with the philosophy, theory, and sociology of film viewing. Of particular interest to necronauts are a couple of essays on "Historians View Spectators:"

In "An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)Credulous Spectator" Tom Gunning takes on the myth that early film audiences ran in fear from a film of a train apparently coming at them. He discusses several of the (now dead) technologies that immediately preceded film and shows how they were used/presented in such a way as to achieve maximum amazement.

He shows that while audiences may have been amazed by the new moving images, they were not apt to confuse these images for reality. An important debunking of popular mythology.

In "Cinematic Spectatorship before the Apparatus: The Public Taste for Reality in Fin-de-Siecle Paris," Vanessa Schwartz discusses Parisian's methods of self-amusement in the immediate pre-film period. Flanerie (the taking in of sights while strolling/shopping) translated itself into a bizarre entertainment spectacle whereby the Paris Morgue because a medium of reality display. Bodies of crime victims were put on display, ostensibly so the public could identify the people but in fact for entertainment. Her description of the many-days display of the corpse of a child is particularly interesting. She also discusses a couple of other dead techs -- the diorama and the panorama -- and talks about how the newspapers of the day combined 'true crime' stories and serial novels.

Alan Wexelblat,