Moving Images: From Edison to the Webcam

Moving Images: From Edison to the Webcam

Moving Images: From Edison to the Webcam

Moving Images: From Edison to the Webcam


In 1888, Thomas Edison announced that he was experimenting on "an instrument which does for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear, which is the recording and reproduction of things in motion." Just as Edison's investigations were framed in terms of the known technologies of the phonograph and the microscope, the essays in this collection address the contexts of innovation and reception that have framed the development of moving images in the last 100 years. Three concerns are of particular interest: the contexts of innovation and reception for moving image technologies; the role of the observer, whose vision and cognitive processes define some of the limits of inquiry and epistemological insight; and the role of new media, which, engaging with the domestic sphere as cultural interface, are transforming our understanding of public and private spheres.

The 17 previously unpublished essays in Moving Images represent the best of current research in the history of this field. They make a timely and stimulating contribution to debates concerning the impact of new media on the history of cinema.


Moving Images: From Edison to the Webcam is the outcome of a conference held in the Department of Cinema Studies at Stockholm University from 6–9 December 1998. Organised in association with the Institute for Futures Studies, the conference showcased thirteen keynote addresses and almost sixty papers covering aspects as diverse as intermediality, indexicality, prosthesis, film and stage, screen practices and reception studies, documentary, film, history, memory, film and changes in the modes of subjectivity, and transformations in the public and private spheres.

With receptions at City Hall and at the Technical Museum, and with a demonstration of a virtual environment improvisation by researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, the conference also proved to be an exciting social as well as memorable academic gathering. As in all selections, there are regrets about what has been passed over or not been available for some reason, but I believe the essays included in this volume reflect the range of issues and excitement that delegates from eleven countries generated in four intense days of debate in December 1998. I hope that this same spirit will be transmitted to readers who could not attend the conference.

Jan Olsson Chair, Conference Steering Committee

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