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Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 22:34:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: "MENTAT / Didier Volckaert"
Dead medium: Pre-cinema moving pictures (electrotachyscope)
Date: Sun, Mar 26, 2000, 03:06 PM
Source(s): see text

It is with great interest that I discover the dead media website some about a year ago.

My name is Didier Volckaert. I'm an Experimental Filmmaker and artist.

I would like to inform you about the following point of view on Pre Cinema.

In 1995 I wrote a paper on Pre-Cinema. In basic it was a summary of all devices from the Pre-Cinema, this to get to a new definition of Cinema and to propose a new day of birth for this medium. Don't understand me wrong, I'm not one of those who are doing hineininterpreterung and try to find the first developments of Cinema in pre-history caves or Greek vases. In fact I just started from the beginning of first written history of the Camera Obscura and then followed each step to find out the meaningfull developments towards the photographic illusion of movement.

I'm not writting to add something to the list of Pre-Cinema apparatus, I think already most of it can be found in 'Pre-Cinema History. An Encyclopaedia and annotated Bibliography of the moving image before 1896' from Hermann Hecht (published by the Britisch Film Institute and Bowker Saur), a book you probably know.

I'm rather writting to give a different point of view on one forgotten device that is in my opinion the first Cinema apparatus. I think information like this can also be relevant for the better understand of Dead Media.

The device called Elektrischer Schnellseher (also called Electrotachyscope) was build by Ottomar Anschtz (Germany) in 1887. The machine powered (by electricity) a circle containing 24 photograps printed on glass. The images were made using the techniek of muybridge. This is important because therefor the 24 images were truly a photographic mathematical fragmentation of a reality in motion. (Most pictures used by other devices at that time were just actors posing before the camera and 'faking' motion. A 'filmcamera' - a device that could take at least 16 images a second - did not excist till 1892 (Le Prince). The unique matter of this device is that the image was not projected onto a screen but instead the viewer looked to the glass pictures itself. These were lit from behind for a fraction of a second by a Gleisser-bulb every time one of the glass plates passed the lamp. Using this technique Anschltz avoided the main problem of all other devices, the fact that the pictures were always moving and therefor could not provide a scharp image.

I have found no reason acceptable not to regard his device as the first Cinema apparatus, that is : 'A device having the potential of providing, by means of light a photographic illusion of a reality in motion.'

By the way, I also still don't understad why for example the Edison's Kinetoscope from Dickson ( (1895) was and is not regarded as Cinema. During a lecture I gave at the University of Berkeley, California, a professor said that you schould be able to view the pictures with more than one person. A strange theory I think, having seen already quite some experimental screenings were I was the only visitor :).

I hope this information will help.

I also would like to personal inform you about the fact that we have started an Art Movement (Neo-Futurisme) in 1994 actualising the Futuristic manifestos. We use only Dead Media ...and reject the point of view that electronic systems are capable to create an image. We regard electronic images (not language !) as illusions of an image, not illusion of motion using images. An image is complex and can not be determinated, electronic images are mathematical build formulas. All art using nothing more than the electronic image itself (like plain videoart, monitor and player) is not regarded as art by us.

I hope to be able to translate it sometime and send it to you.

Also last year I organised a first Dead Media project in the opening of the S.M.A.K., the museum of contemporary (actual) Art of Ghent. We will soon organise a second project as a part of the TimeFestival. I hope to be able to write more about this when I have the time.