The Ontogenesis of Cinematic Objects: Simondon, Marx and the Invention of Cinema

Hackett, Jon (2015) The Ontogenesis of Cinematic Objects: Simondon, Marx and the Invention of Cinema. PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication, 6 (1). ISSN 1836-5132

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Abstract

The ideas of Gilbert Simondon have recently surfaced in debates on cinema and its development in modernity. Pasi Väliaho (2013) has considered early cinema in terms of individuation and affectivity; Thomas Lamarre (2011) has considered the magic lantern as technical object and “dark precursor” of animation; Bernard Stiegler (2010) has considered cinema as a “mnemotechnical object”. This paper will evaluate the contribution of Simondon’s ideas on technical objects and on individuation as a model or paradigm for the development of early cinema, while questioning the primacy in Simondon’s analysis of the demands of technicity over economic questions. Such analyses in fact return us to the canonical work of André Bazin (1967) on the ontology of the cinematic image and the dream of pure cinema. Earlier “materialist” analyses of early cinema from a Marxist perspective criticised Bazin’s “idealist” account of age-old fantasies of moving images finally realised thanks to the development of available technologies, proposing instead that economic factors were more likely to account for the development of new machines and technologies – and thus of the cinematic apparatus, film and consequent entertainment industry. The question considered in this paper is where an interpretation of early cinema as technical object, emerging via a process of individuation, sits in relation to these earlier debates. This will be considered particularly in relation to Simondon’s Du mode d’existence des objets techniques (1958). Does Simondon’s analysis expose the earlier materialist/idealist boundary as ill founded? How do his concepts illuminate the development of early cinema, in relation to ideas on invention, techology, culture and machines? Does a conception of the birth of cinema as individuation complicate or obfuscate questions about labour and machines familiar from Marxist analysis?

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: 700 The arts; fine & decorative arts; recreation > 791 Public performances
School/Department: School of Arts and Humanities
Depositing User: Jon Hackett
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2014 13:18
Last Modified: 12 May 2017 10:56
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/777

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