Art/Aesthetics · Film/Video/New Media · Theory

Peephole: an online film magazine devoted to creative screen criticism.

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The peephole was a central feature of Edison’s Kinetoscope, an early cinematic exhibition device through which many audiences saw their first moving images. The line of movement of a man’s hat as he passes it from one hand to the other, the mesmerising flow of a woman’s dress as she dances, the expression on a person’s face as he sneezes, these single shots were the peephole’s micro-cinematic moments. Although the Kinetoscope is no longer with us, Peephole believes that digital technologies offer the possibility for screen criticism to return to the novelty of this time of early cinema and draw attention, once again, to the micro-elements of the screen.

Peephole features short essays on single shots of film, television and other screen media. Gesturing back to the cinematic moments viewed through the peephole, each piece is presented alongside a brief animation of the shot under discussion. In restricting writers to a single shot, Peephole aims to push the boundaries of screen criticism and, in returning to this moment of early cinema, experiment with ways of thinking and writing about film.

Peephole is edited by Whitney Monaghan.

Film/Video/New Media · Technology

Trapped in the Total Cinema

Can we speak of a twenty-first-century cinema? And if so, on what basis?

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the French film critic André Bazin characterized cinema as an idealistic phenomenon and cinema-making as an intrinsically irrational enterprise. “There was not a single inventor who did not try to combine sound and relief with animation of the image,” Bazin maintained in “The Myth of Total Cinema.” Each and every new technological development—synchronous sound, full-color, stereoscopic or 3-D movies, Smell-O-Vision—served to take the cinema nearer to its imagined essence, which is to say that “cinema has not yet been invented!” Moreover, once true cinema was achieved, the medium itself would disappear—just like the state under true communism. Writing in 1946, Bazin believed that this could happen by 2000.

In fact, something else occurred: the development of digital computer-generated imagery (CGI). Bazin had imagined cinema as the objective “recreation of the world.” Yet digital image-making precludes the necessity of having the world, or even a really existing subject, before the camera—let alone the need for a camera. Photography had been superseded, if not the desire to produce images that moved. Chaplin was perhaps but a footnote to Mickey Mouse; what were The Birth of a Nation and Battleship Potemkin compared to Toy Story 3?

Excerpt from an article written by J. Hoberman at NYR. Continue HERE