Edwardian hoodies


Anyone watching BBC television at the moment will have seen the trailer for the BBC4 Edwardians season. The trailer uses footage from the now renowned Mitchell and Kenyon collection of mostly actuality films of life in nothern England 1900-1914, digitially treated to mix the people of Edwardian times with such modern figures as a pizza delivery motorbike, a ‘golf sale’ signboard, rock concert fans, a policeman with a gun, and a hoodie. So of course they’re just like us and we’re just like them. You can see the trailer here (click on ‘Watch the season trail’).

Update – For all those who have been looking, the music that accompanies the trailer is Fashion Parade, by Misty’s Big Adventure. More details from the band’s MySpace site.

Minds, Bodies, Machines

This interdisciplinary conference is convened by Birkbeck’s Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, University of London, in partnership with the Department of English, University of Melbourne, and software developers Constraint Technologies International (CTI). It takes place 6-7 July 2007 at Birkbeck College, Malet Street, Bloomsbury.

The two-day conference will explore the relationship between minds, bodies and machines in the long nineteenth century. Its aim is “to explore the continuities and discontinuities in the imagining of the human/machine interface in the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.” Topics include: the virtual and the real; technologies of the sublime; evolution and machines; techniques of communication; technologies of travel; medical technology; miniaturisation; self-reproduction; and spiritualism. So, not strictly about motion pictures, but much more needs to be done to introduce film into Victorian studies (after all, the Victorians invented it).

More information from the conference website.

The first edited motion picture?


Hot news from the Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema site. The researches of Eadweard Muybridge scholar Stephen Herbert have come up with evidence for Muybridge to have been the first person to present an edited motion picture, in 1881. This is long before ‘film’ as we know it, but Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope machine projected silhouette images taken from his sequence photographs, painted around the edge of a glass disk. Anyway, here’s the news report:

It now seems confirmed that there was a screening of some newly-produced Zoopraxiscope glass plates in San Francisco in the Spring of 1881, one of which features sequential actions: perhaps the first ‘edited’ motion picture informed by the camera – meticulously painted images based closely on photographic sequences to create a succession of different ‘shots’; and for dramatic effect. A May 1881 report in the San Francisco Post described this as: “a deerhunt, where a deer, followed successfully [successively?] by dogs and horsemen, traverses over the illuminated screen”. The report says these new subjects “can now be illustrated”. Stephen Herbert thinks it is reasonable to suppose they were all shown at this time, though it is just possible that the report is taken from a written submission by Muybridge. But even if it was, it is quite likely that he started using them in his shows. Most of the subjects described in the report survive, including the little-known ‘three-shot’ motion picture Deerhunt. More details can be found on the Eadweard Muybridge Chronology (1881, May 16 entry).

So maybe the first ‘movie’ was an animated scene of a deer hunt made in 1881, when the Lumiere brothers were still in short trousers (practically). Or perhaps we need to be very careful about our terminology and not describe such a phenomenon with the language of a later medium. ‘Pre-cinema’ (unfortunate term) was not about anticipating cinema, as such, but existed of itself. Nevertheless, it is fun to make the comparison…