Demolition dun mur: The social construction of technology and early cinema projection systems

Rossell, Deac (W. F. D.). 2014. Demolition dun mur: The social construction of technology and early cinema projection systems. Early Popular Visual Culture, 12(3), pp. 304-341. ISSN 1746-0654 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article suggests that the widely adopted principles of the Cinema of Attractions is a limited framework for studying the early period of the invention of moving pictures and proposes the use of ideas drawn from writers on the social construction of technology as the basis for a more useful and comprehensive methodology for analysis of the early period of invention. With examples drawn from both the technological artefacts of early cinema (the Maltese Cross intermittent mechanism, the Lumière Cinématographe) and from emerging cinematic practices (travelling exhibitors, optical projection systems), the alternative methodology described here is shown to be helpful in re-evaluating and restructuring the archaic inherited master narrative of the invention of moving pictures. The essay suggests that by looking at the material technology and practices of early cinema without prejudice or prior assumption, there is still much to be learned from surviving resources too long ignored; which in turn reveals a distinct need to restructure the habitual story of invention, which was formed in the 1920s and remains largely untested by modern scholarship.

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Additional Information:

early cinema, patents, chronophotography, travelling exhibitors, cinema technology, Étienne-Jules Marey, Oskar Messter, Ottomar Anschütz, Auguste and Louis Lumière, Emile Reynaud

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


August 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

28 Nov 2014 15:02

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2017 10:12

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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