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An Archaeology of Cinema as a Real/Imaginary Narrative Medium

Chanchul Jung 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper take a media archaeological approach to cinema transformed into a narrative medium during its transitional period, 1903-1915. To accomplish this, I will explore the question of as which narrative medium cinema was imagined and also how it was institutionalized as a narrative medium with authorship. I will explain that the imaginary and real ideas and changes on cinema resonated with each other on the foundation of its technological aspects such as indexicality, 23 frames/sec. and montage. It was during the transitional period that cinema was transformed from a medium representing spectacle to a medium of narration. The establishment of the American film copyright law in 1912 was an institutional, real outcome from the contemporary understanding of cinema as a narrative medium. At the same time, various ideas emerged that led to imagining of cinema as a complete narrative medium, incomparable to any other. From a media archaeological perspective, the imaginary ideas of media resonate with their actual course of development. These imaginary ideas are not just imaginary, but rather reflect the contemporary desire for the medium. This paper looks into the transitional period based on this media archaeological point of view. To this end, this paper will briefly introduce the notion of media archaeology as a media theory and then discuss Eric Kluitenberg’s concept of ‘an archaeology of imaginary media’ and its methodologies. Second, it will explore literary and cinematic imagining of cinema as a powerful medium of storytelling, while discussing the ways in which cinema’s technological characteristics played a decisive role in these imaginings. Also to show the techno-deterministic role of cinema in the real world, this paper will explore how its technological characteristics were considered as an important element in the processes through which America’s first motion picture copyright was institutionalized in 1912 after two historical copyright cases: one is Edison v. Lubin in 1903 and Kalem v. Harper Brothers in 1909. Ultimately, this paper will lead us to an understanding of the history of cinema as a medium and its developments in more multi-layed way, as communication between the real and imaginary, and give us perspectives toward what cinema is.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.