From Light to Byte

From Light to Byte: Toward an Ethics of Digital Cinema

MARKOS HADJIOANNOU
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt2jcczp
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    From Light to Byte
    Book Description:

    Cinema has been undergoing a profound technological shift: celluloid film is being replaced by digital media in the production, distribution, and reception of moving images. Concerned with the debate surrounding digital cinema's ontology and the interrelationship between cinema cultures,From Light to Byteinvestigates the very idea of change as it is expressed in the current technological transition. Markos Hadjioannou asks what is different in the way digital movies depict the world and engage with the individual and how we might best address the issue of technological shift within media archaeologies.

    Hadjioannou turns to the technical basis of the image as his first point of departure, considering the creative and perceptual activities of moviemakers and viewers. Grounded in film history, film theory, and philosophy, he explores how the digital configures its engagement with reality and the individual while simultaneously replaying and destabilizing celluloid's own structures. He observes that, where film's photographic foundation encourages an existential association between individual and reality, digital representations are graphic renditions of mathematical codes whose causal relations are more difficult to trace.

    Throughout this work Hadjioannou examines how the two technologies set themselves up with reference to reality, physicality, spatiality, and temporality, and he concludes that the question concerning digital cinema is ultimately one of ethical implications-a question, that is, of the individual's ability to respond to the image of the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8207-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION. Going Digital: Cinema’s New Age
    (pp. 1-38)

    WHEN IN 1982 JEFF BRIDGES WAS BEAMED into a computer hard drive by the menacing Master Control Program of ENCOM Corporation and made to battle software in a life-threatening round of video games, the extent of digital technology’s impact on the world of cinema could not have easily been foreseen. Steven Lisberger’s extensive use of innovative computer-generated images (CGI) inTron(1982) became a major forerunner of digitization in mainstream industries, which would gradually replace the use of celluloid in whole stages of production, distribution, projection, and reception.¹ Ever since the movie’s basic 3-D models, color filters, and glowing circuits,...

  5. 1 THE REALITY OF THE INDEX, OR WHERE DOES THE TRUTH LIE?
    (pp. 39-70)

    I WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN WITH A PERSONAL NOTE regarding my first conscious experience of digital cinema: Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur thrillerJurassic Park(1993). Spielberg’s blockbuster was not the first digital work on which I laid eyes, but it was for me the first movie to signal cinema’s reliance on computer power. A fourteen-year-old boy at the time, with a box full of popcorn and a heart ready to explode, I watched in awe as the striking images of dinosaurs moved across meadows and jungles, breathing, eating, fighting, and bringing characters and audience alike under their magic spell. As a...

  6. 2 PHYSICAL PRESENCES: Reality, Materiality, Corporeality
    (pp. 71-102)

    DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY’S NONINDEXICAL OPERATION prompts an uncertainty in the authenticity that celluloid film reflects. As the digital no longer bears a directly causal reflection of a real event or person, the moving image seems to lose its evidentiary ability to document the world. This shift stems from two main features that the new technology enables: the unprecedented seamlessness and detail in the manipulation of images it records; and the perceptually realistic appearance of the images it generates through computer software. As I discussed in the previous chapter, however, the problem with this argument is that photographic recordings (still or moving)...

  7. 3 SPATIAL COORDINATES: In between Celluloid Strips and Codified Pixels
    (pp. 103-142)

    CONCEALED IN THE FEAR Fay Wray expresses in her version of King Kong’s beloved Ann is the fact that she never really faces the fictitious gigantic ape, despite their visual congruity in the 1933 movieKing Kong(Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack). Similarly, in Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of the classic thriller, Naomi Watts’s Ann cries in terror as the incredible animal looks as if it were approaching her—even though it never really is. In both cases, what is created as spatial continuity in the narrative is in fact a visual effect used to cover the gaps...

  8. 4 REDISCOVERING CINEMATIC TIME
    (pp. 143-176)

    THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TIME for the understanding of the technological change in cinema is triggered by the difference in the way the two media create their images. Where the indexical and analogical celluloid image sustains a direct link to apast realityas physical trace, digital media form their images without any necessary existential adherence to time. Rather, the “digitographic” image makesgraphically presentthe algorithmic associations and instantly renewed calculations that take place in each related file on a hard drive. Nevertheless, as my focus on both spectatorial corporeality and spatiality attests, the reality of the image cannot be...

  9. 5 TRACING AN ETHICS OF THE MOVIE IMAGE
    (pp. 177-210)

    THE QUESTION THIS BOOK HAS BEEN EXAMINING regards the newness of digital technology from the point of view of the different setting it establishes for the relation between the movie image, the world, and the viewing subject. Unable to corroborate a causal connection to the world due to its mathematical conversion or generation, the existential assertion of the digital is certainly difficult to trace. Celluloid film’s indexical and analogical functions create an image of the world, which function as an assurance of real events and existences in the past. As I will discuss, celluloid cinema thus enables a realization on...

  10. CONCLUSION. Change: A Point of Constant Departure
    (pp. 211-218)

    INNAQOYQATSI, REGGIO CREATES A SENSE OF REALITY in which technology does not simply affect social structures, but defines how the world is configured in its entirety. Speaking in the bonus featuretteLife as Warthat accompanies the DVD, Reggio explains, “It’s not the effect of technology on society, on economics, on religion, on war, on culture, et cetera, on art; it’s that everything now is existing in technology as the new host of life. It’s the price we pay for the pursuit of our technological happiness—that is what warfare is. It’s way beyond the battlefields, it’s total war,...

  11. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 219-222)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 223-236)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 237-244)
  14. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 245-248)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 249-268)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-269)