Cinemedia: Archaeologies of Computation and AI in Cinema
Since its origins, cinema has been riveted by both mechanization and culture,
by its material apparatuses and its evolving metaphors. The ‘presence’
of the machine, as omnipotent technical gaze or as observer of mechanization
itself, fills the archives of cinema history. By the 1950s the computer
made its appearance in mainstream, experimental, and documentary film.
Simultaneously a range of materials emerged from corporate archives, promotional
films, television documentaries. Science gone awry, scientists gone mad,
machines out of control were replaced by autonomous technologies, malevolent
programmers, sentient—and ultimately sovereign—computers were
contrasted by celebrations of astonishing progress, laments over the consequences
of automation, or the dangers of machine intelligence.
Godard’s Alphaville, Fassbinder’s Welt am Draht,
Marker’s Level 5, Scott’s Bladerunner, the
Wachowski’s The Matrix, Rusnack’s The 13th Floor,
Cronenberg’s eXistenZ, the list is long, are indicative
of an on-going interrogation of the reverberations of computing, simulation,
and artificial intelligence in cinema. Documentaries like The Machine
that Changed the World, Computer Pioneers, Dammbeck’s
Das Netz, or Curtis’ The Century of the Self,
looked more specifically at stages and implications in the development
of computer culture. Numerous promotional materials films and videos tracked
particular technologies and implementations.
This presentation will be copiously illustrated with excerpts from this
material with a particular focus on developing both a historical approach
to a fascinating tradition and a critical assessment of the appeal of
simulation, the consequences of artificial intelligence, the significance
of these materials as a crucial component in the evolving histories of
the media arts.