Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 and Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory at York University, Canada

Lineage of the tradition of immersion

Lineage of the tradition of immersion

from http ://www.medienkunstnetz.de/themes/overview_of_media_art/immersion/4/

From an image-theoretical perspective, it is remarkable that installations such as «World Skin» are bringing back the image form of the panorama to life—at least for a time. In addition to works by Maurice Benayoun, others, such as «The Visitor: Living by Numbers» (2001) by Luc Courchesne, «Place Ruhr» (2000) by Jeffrey Shaw, or Michael Naimark’s «Be Now Here» (1995–2002), can also be put in the category of an exegesis of the panorama. These installations revive and discuss the idea and aesthetics of this dinosaur of a medium and are thus part of the history of immersion—a phenomenon that has only recently received recognition yet can be traced throughout the entire history of Western art.[8] Consciously or unconsciously, these artists make reference to this
ancestor medium, the ‹panorama›, which was patented in 1787. Originally developed as an innovative visualization for use in military reconnaissance, Robert Barker’s invention of circular perspective was soon put on the market, developed in the course of the nineteenth century into a mass medium, and ultimately reached an audience of several hundred million people.[9] Alternating between art, spectacle and political propaganda, in the beginning panoramas were created by individual artists who often worked for years under penurious circumstances. By 1800, however, panoramas were being produced in the metropolises of England and France in a mere matter of months according to strict profit-oriented principles in technically rationalized industrial processes based on the division of labor. The panorama became the nineteenth century’s indicator of the image media combination of art, science and technology; it was one of the most widespread image media in the history of art. No other space of illusion created with traditional techniques developed this degree of illusionism and suggestive power. These were preceded by calculations of how to achieve a maximum of

technological and psychological effects—also an exemplary feature of the panorama.

Through the ‹magical› luminosity of the picture, which was due to concealed overhead lighting, the illusion space itself appeared to be the source of the real. In the panorama, the depictions of nature assumed a totality and spectators ‹travelled› through time and space—a closed universe of illusion. In 1800, a commission was set up by the Institut de France for the express purpose of studying this medium. The panorama’s central effect of producing an ‹illusion totale› met with the commission’s wholehearted approval.[10] Their report found that, through its alliance with science, art had come decisively closer to its goal of perfect illusion. The impossibility of comparing the panorama’s objects with extraneous objects, and being surrounded entirely by a frameless, all-embracing image, the spectator is subjected to a deception that is complete. Moreover, the awareness that this is a deception tends to fade the longer the observer remains in the panorama. Critique of the panorama followed hard on the heels of this praise; around 1800, the arguments were phrased mainly in…” etc…

Wed, February 29 2012 » futurecinema2_2012