Abstract

Over a century ago, at a time when Henri Bergson deployed the cinematograph as a metaphor for “the mechanism of our ordinary knowledge” in Creative Evolution (1907), other, lesser-known theorists envisaged the medium's potential to offer unique modes of perception and cognition. For these thinkers, the cinematograph did not signify a mechanical, spatialized temporality pervasive within industrial modernity, but instead provided a novel means of experiencing time and history. Just one year after the publication of Bergson's book, Ludwig Brauner wrote an article for Der Kinematograph, Germany's first film trade journal, calling for the creation of “cinematographic archives” in the country's municipalities. Brauner juxtaposed film with traditional sources of historical reconstruction, distinguishing the new medium not only for its lucid, impartial recording of past events but also for its effortlessly lifelike form of documentation. Imagining that the cinematograph had been invented a hundred years prior, Brauner stated, “A single filmstrip would offer us the possibility of capturing the spirit of that time in living form” (p. 29 below).

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