In the 120 years since the birth of cinema, various related technologies have been developed, and there have been efforts to bring movies closer to people and make them more accessible. Moving images that once required darkness in order to appear can now be seen in the bright of day using backlit panels, and through miniaturization you can watch a movie on a screen you are holding in the palm of your hand. And through the development of communications technology, systems have now been created that allow you to call up any sort of film or video whenever you want. This 120-year history can perhaps even be described as the history of attempts to break free from the “movie theater” as a completely dark and silent room required as an apparatus of viewing. Lacking the convenience the latest technology can provide, it requires time and effort to access, and in today’s society that strongly prioritizes efficiency can even be said to be obsolete or out of date.
Even today, however, watching movies retains an important position as a form of public entertainment, and film festivals still receive a great deal of attention as significant cultural events in the places they are held. It is also a fact that new artists who take the medium of “cinema” as a starting point and attempt to drive it forward and extend its reach continue to emerge.
Is it inevitable that we should be drawn to a light shining in darkness? When I first saw Peter Kubelka’s ARNULF RAINER I had the strong impression that the flickering light emitted by the projector was reflecting off the screen, raising shadows of the surrounding audience members and bathing the entire cinema in light. It was as if the “now, here” that Kubelka talks about had manifested right before my eyes.
Why do people gather in cinemas? What is it about movies that draws people in? At the 2015 Image Forum Festival we assemble and investigate the essential power of cinema as the flickering of light in the darkness and a diverse variety of approaches to filmmaking.