Canberra, Australia, 23-25 July 2014. The conference is an occasion for historians, film historians, archivists and film archivists to talk with each other about the opportunities and difficulties afforded by the digital transition for historical research, particularly in relation to the world of early cinema.
Since the advent of cinema in the mid-1890s, a series of developments has reconfigured visual reproduction in terms of screens, projection methods, architectural spaces of exhibition, and the economics and sociability of viewing. There have been intense moments of rupture when new configurations have superseded old: corporate management overwhelming small-time entrepreneurs; synchronised talking pictures eradicating silent; multiplexes engulfing single-screen venues; intimate viewing displacing public; digital formats driving out film. In the early decades of the 21st century, it is the last of these, still underway, which compels notice and focuses attention on the future of infinitely morphing platforms. But let us not forget the screen’s past and the effect of the digital revolution on research into its history. Cultural and film historians, archivists and visual creators are all exercised by the spectre of dead media and the enchantment of new insights and methodologies.
• How is historical research on cinema and visual culture changing as it confronts the deluge of readily accessible digitised material that once were films, newspapers, magazines, ephemera? What are the new research agendas?
• Has the digital revolution affected the history of the visual culture of modernity, by analogy or substantively?
• What are the consequences of researching virtual rather than original material?
• What is at stake for film archives’ custodianship of visual heritage faced with increasing demands for (selective) digital access, copyright restrictions, and always limited finance?
• What is the significance for the historian of the distinction between the digitised and non-digitised film/document/artefact? And what is the status for the archivist of the original after digitisation?
• Professor Ian Christie, Birkbeck College, University of London
• Professor Timothy Hitchcock, University of Hertfordshire, UK
• Professor Deb Verhoeven, Deakin University, Australia
• Professor Robert C Allen, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
• Professor Paul Arthur, University of Western Sydney, Australia
• Dr Victoria Duckett, Deakin University, Australia
• Dr Ray Edmondson, Archive Associates, Australia
Professor Jill Julius Matthews
HRC, ANU, Canberra, Australia
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