Cinema has been undergoing a technological shift in recent years, in which celluloid film is being replaced by digital media in the production, distribution, projection and reception of moving images. While these changes have had a direct impact on the organizational and economic operations of movie industries across the globe, they have also led to new aesthetic forms in both mainstream and avant-garde moviemaking, as well as novel possibilities for the ventures of independent and amateur moviemakers alike. Indeed, as the binary codification of the computer introduces different modes of recording and creating images, and expands the spectatorial experiences of movies quite significantly, we are faced once again with that primordial question: what is cinema? Concerned with the debate of digital cinema’s ontology, and the interrelationship between old and new media that is revealed in cinema cultures, From Light to Byte addresses the very idea of change as it is expressed in the current technological transition. In so doing, this book asks what is different in the way digital movies depict the world and engage with the individual, and how we may go about addressing the question of technological change within media archaeologies.
In line with the dynamic creativity exposed by both D. N. Rodowick and Gilles Deleuze, and with the aim of developing the impact of Deleuze’s film-philosophy further, this chapter addresses the position of reality in the cinematic image. The focus will be Ari Folman’s animated documentary Vals Im Bashir/Waltz with Bashir (2008), a mesmerising movie that triggers anew the debate regarding the documentarian’s treatment of the world. Through the creative practice of Folman’s vision, where the world documented is also animated, my aim is to question a common assertion regarding the world of non-fiction cinema, placing this type of filmmaking within the uniqueness of Deleuze’s approach to reality in cinema. In essence, what becomes central to my discussion is the impossibility of a clear opposition between fiction and non-fiction, and, most importantly, the question of what this means for the figure of reality within the cinematic image.
Where theatre was not dependent on a projector and screen for the manifestation of its fictitious worlds, cinema had to rely on such equipment for its representation of moving photographic images. In so doing, cinema could achieve what theatre could only allude to with the help of costumes, set design and the general consensus of the audience: a representation of the world itself. Nevertheless, this ability of cinematicity could only be achieved at the price of a temporal and existential disjunction between actor and spectator a matter that did not occur in theatre as a result of its liveness. What happens, though, when the two media are brought together; when theatre's stage becomes the backstage for cinema, and cinema's construction is a live performance? This article analyses Katie Mitchell's intermedial performance some trace of her (2008) through an examination of the distinction between cinematic and theatrical art forms. The authors look at the amalgamation of the theatrical space with the cinematic space, examining what intermedial approaches to artistic creation have on the performing and visual arts and their spectatorial experiences. For this, they reflect on Mitchell's controversially received work through the prism of existential phenomenology, examining the ontological implications of the performance's intermediality.
In light of the current transition from celluloid to digital cinema, this paper will explore the relation between old and new technologies as a means for understanding medium specificity as an activity of mediation. While the ongoing debate in screen studies aims at clarifying the extent of digital technology’s effects, it seems that the new technology is either being interpreted as inducing a rupture in film history clearly distinct from celluloid, or as directly repeating strategies, goals, forms, and impulses specific to an indexical and analogical visual culture. Indeed, the desire to acknowledge points of divergence or close interaction between technological forms is unquestionably useful; but my own approach to the technological change takes into account both the differences and similarities of forms as a means of exploring medium specificity. This will be a matter of dealing with the new as not new or old, but new and old – as simultaneously distinct and interactively interrelated, so that each medium acquires a space of its own without fixed boundaries. Rather than merge the one form into the other, the ontological explication of a medium may take account of its specific technological base while simultaneously paying attention to previous technologies that reside in it intact yet affected by the contextual possibilities of the new. Newness, thus understood, becomes a complex concurrency of differences and similarities that shift the borders of distinct forms in unexpected and continually renewable ways. With this in mind, I will discuss an example of digital mediation through Richard Linklater’s Waking Life (2001), with a focus on the digital’s power for a creative interpretation of reality’s experience.
The direct inscription of reality's illuminations so fundamental for the creation of celluloid images is missing from the digital, which by forcing a series of conversions into its constructions, makes temporal relations difficult to uphold. Of course, a perceptual realism allows for reality to be recognisable in the digital image according to a habitual reading of coordinates and structural relations of space and light. Nevertheless, the mathematical notations that lie at the basis of the image raise the question of an ontological grounding that finds its roots in the consequences of time. What seems to be at stake is not an iconic impression of reality, but a link to time as historical trace, as unpredictable progression, as expression of change. At the same time, though, it just might be that, while the digital clearly separates itself from celluloid technologies on the basis of its operative configurations, it nonetheless can invoke the ontological force of change on grounds other than indexicality. Guided by this premise, it will be the aim of this article to examine the relationship between celluloid and digital structures, in order to see where time can be found in new forms of cinematic production. As such, I will initially turn to the temporal relations of celluloid film to see how the digital disrupts the bond between image and time, and then see how the digital itself can become an image of time through the work of Gilles Deleuze.