The Apparatus and the Eye; Changes in Cinematic Space

this essay originally appeared at / May 1999

Talan Memmott

E-cinema is a new type of destination -- a new formation of cinematic space that colonizes the private sphere by locating media consumption at a personal level, directed toward individual "terminals" -- end-users. The location of the media is fixed but the theater itself is produced locally by the user, in a private rather than social space. Viewers may be watching "films" from their bedrooms, offices, kitchens... The screen is slippery, no longer fixed or focused and the theater, per viewer, has divers ambiance... The differences between "real" cinema and E-cinema are not so much manifest in the experience of the image by the viewer as in the spatial constructs these cinemas employ. (time is another issue)

In previous essays (fiction really) on hypermedia and the delivery machine I have discussed how the (shared) space of television and cinematic (public) space differ greatly from the (private) space in which hypermedia is consumed. Certainly, there are shared aspects one "dimension" to the next. The mesmeric interruption and addiction portrayed in Peephole is a shared affect of the televised and "terminal" platforms, and voyeurism runs throughout... The oculus is always central, or terminal - the point of consumption, with TV as the cool blue (familial) hearth, and the big screen - a (social) MYTHmaker... The monitor, however, occupies a peculiar space --played with officially or in private (cold, cooler than TV -- too small to make myths)...

The screen relocates itself from one media platforms to the next and the effects of this varied dis-play (the rigorous acts of the viewer in pursuit of meaning and definition) produce something of a confission of information, location and reality.

Public / Private

  • In public, formal cinematic space the process moves from projection to reflection.[industry]
  • The private cinematic colony is governed by service and radiance.[energy]
  • Moviegoers form a specific community at a specific time, in a defined space. All eyes focus on a single screen.
  • E-Moviegoers form a diverse collective at any given time, in an open yet private space. All eyes focused on their own respective screens.

Whereas formal cinematic space is communal, E-cinematic space is actively collective. The mass eye that consumes the material online is organized dynamically through a collection of eyes that are not centrally located, forming a temporary fly's eye of sorts that pulls the desired visa from an other location... The meal, the real content...

Collective cinematic space comes together, forms the eye in ANONYMOUS, SHARED YET DIVERGENT, SEPERATELY INTIMATE EXPERIENCES WITH THE MEDIA...

The eye and apparatus are further transformed through events like Ecine, which place content in formal cinematic space, the real world at the same time it is dispatched into the "virtual".

The effects of dispensing digital media in a typical movie theater may be transparent to the moviegoer, but its method of delivery drastically alters the apparatus. Though the projective and reflective qualities are retained, the projector is replaced. Film is missing! This, no doubt, redefines cinema. At the very least, digital projection and instantaneous electronic delivery expand the field.

As streaming technology progresses, and access and audience grow, the lexicon of cinematic study will need to be revised, expanded to consider new machines and the dynamic creation of collective cinematic space. The delivery machine, the screen, the eye -- all terms will need to be revisited.

At the moment, I can't find the balcony...


copyright 1999 t. memmott