Plzeňské sympozia

Ivan Klimeš

The Story and the Loop. Cinematograph vs. Kinetoscope

pp. 253–260, summary pp. 260–261


At the Czech & Slavonic Ethnographic Exhibition in Prague 1895, the pavilion with Edison’s phonograph exhibited also a new invention by Edison – kinetoscope, a device for showing films to one viewer. It was a cabinet with a peephole viewer window at the top; after inserting a coin (25 cents), a film, forming a loop, was repeatedly shown in it for 30 seconds. Kinetoscope was quickly disqualified by the cinematograph by the brothers Lumie`re working on the principle of image projection, hence with the possibility of collectively sharing the experience, and from then on was used only asa coin-operated entertainment machine. In the competition with the cinematograph, the kinetoscope could have been disadvantaged by the principle of a loop, hence the repetition of the same film, which limited the narrative potential of the film medium when it placed the motion itself above the story. For the collective film viewer experience, the institution of a cinema was thus developed, but the development of the film medium in the 20th century already from the 1920s headed towards moving the cinema home. The series of apparatuses such as television, video and DVD culminated with the mass spread of personal computers, which show the moving images to a single viewer just like kinetoscope before, and the internet has supplied also a strangely distorted principle of sharing. After one hundred years, the idea of kinetoscope has thus returned to the scene with enormous intensity.

Key words: Bohemian Lands, 19th century, cultural history, cinematography, kinetoscope


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