A father proposes to his teenage daughter a trip together to Death Valley, California. He with dreams of Erich von Strohiem’s silent classic Greed (1923) on his mind (specifically the famous final act staged on location in Death Valley), she, most likely, accompanied by all the accruements of the digital age: iphone, ipod, etc. Such is the framing narrative (or let us call it such) to John Downie’s article The Older Grows the Body, the Faster Run the Machines, which weaves through it a form of ‘corporeal’ cross-generational dialogue on the ‘digital age’ as embodied by father and daughter. It could be a story about the new supplanting the old, but its never quite that straight forward.
Downie’s is one of several articles that appear in this issue that were first presented as papers at “Cinema in the Digital Age” symposium hosted by Film Program at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. While the ‘digital’ is the mainstay term that anchors each of the articles, the authors approach it in various and distinctive ways.
Sean Cubitt’s Making Space provides one of the most comprehensive historical overviews of how classical theories and practices informing perspective and dimensionality in the pictorial arts, theatre and architecture have informed the computer generated graphics of today’s visual culture. As he puts it, “The challenge is all the greater because digital screens and projectors afford only a strictly limited form of display, and the codecs associated with them share features which make the construction of space conform to the Cartesian grid of two dimensional geometry. In this tension lies the basis for what we do not yet truly possess: a digital cinema free of the chains of the past.” In that sense, what is new is still old.
Like Downie and his evocation of Greed, Leon Gurevitch’s The Cinema of Interactions also ties what he calls “the age of digital attractions” all the way back to the 19o1 film The Countryman and the Cinematograph as he surveys the evolving technological and production practices that transform what historian Tom Gunning termed “the cinema of attractions” into what Gurevitch terms “the cinemas of interactions.”
Both Lee-Jane Bennion Nixon in her piece on “the warrior woman” and Allison Maplesden analysis of the Disney websites take into account sexual politics of much digital imaging.
Our thanks to the symposium conveners Tim Groves and Sean Redmond and their many colleagues for permission to publish the symposium proceedings.
And to our readers, we extend our season’s greetings.