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Modern Kinesis: Motion Picture Technology, Embodiment, and Re-Playability in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twenty-First Centuries

Borden, Amy Elizabeth (2010) Modern Kinesis: Motion Picture Technology, Embodiment, and Re-Playability in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twenty-First Centuries. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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When new technologies are integrated with older media, potential viewers are introduced to these changes in extra-filmic contexts that make this transition visible. In four case studies I argue that the human body acts as a visible interface between machine and images in these moments to create an interactive mode of spectatorship. This is a process manifest in two forms: as a machine-body interaction that places the human body within the mechanisms of image-creation and as a means of intervention to make new technologies and new images familiar by asserting the spectator's physical presence in their plane of being. This assertion is an insertion, a comingling of the body of the image with the body of the spectator in a kinetic relationship. My first two case studies use late 19th- and early 20th century American periodicals to argue that kinetoscope images, motion picture images, and x-ray images, all described as shadow pictures in the popular press, were discursively used as models of thinking via representations of the way the human body and mind were integrated with machines to capture thought. The images produced suggest that moving images functioned as a form of evidence for the unseeable not only in their ability to represent the unseen, but also in representations of thinking that reflect similar kinetic properties. Based on the context I sketch in my first two case studies, I conclude my work in the silent era by considering how Hugo Münsterberg's neo-Kantian idealism coupled with his work in experimental psychology considers the human body as a form of evidence for the unseeable. This highlights how the origins of American film theory worked within a negotiation between materialism and idealism via recourse to the human body as a primary site from which to consider the mechanisms of cinematic style. Moving to the twenty-first century in my final case study, I argue that, like the discursive materials surrounding early-cinema, Michael Haneke's films represent a corporeality that is joined with the apparatus via the use of video technology that portrays a shortened divide between spectator and on-screen actor by engendering the ability to replay events.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Borden, Amy Elizabethamb34@pitt.eduAMB34
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLandy, Marciamlandy@pitt.eduMLANDY
Committee MemberLowenstein, Adamalowen@pitt.eduALOWEN
Committee MemberMecchia, Giusepinnamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Committee MemberFischer, Lucylfischer@pitt.eduLFISCHER
Date: 28 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 May 2010
Approval Date: 28 September 2010
Submission Date: 6 July 2010
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cinematic embodiment; film and shadow; Hugo Münsterberg and cognitivism; motion pictures and American periodicals
Other ID:, etd-07062010-195809
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:50
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:45


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