Film is undergoing a process of profound transformation. Over the past twenty years, filmmakers and theorists have spoken of the ‘end’ or ‘death’ of cinema, in many different ways. This book looks at the abandonment both of film and also of cinematic spaces – notably at an extraordinary avenue of abandoned but intact cinemas in the Downtown area of Los Angeles – in order to examine what abandonment reveals about contemporary film and its future. The book argues that filmic abandonment is a seminal process which intimates both the casting-aside of an obsolete but powerful presence, and also the potential for a wild sensory unleashing, with an unprecedented impact for the human eye. Film, over its history, has been pivotal in the shaping of memory and perception, and of architecture. The book asks whether film still possesses a distinctive and enduring status, or is becoming subordinated within engulfing digital forms. Abandoned Images explores, in a groundbreaking and innovative way, what ‘the end’ means for film, and probes how the essential aberrance and mutability of film are vital to its future.
“The nature and status of film are undergoing a profound transformation, which will undoubtedly lead to the perception of film itself being formulated in new ways, and to films being created or re-imagined with unprecedented aims. Similarly, cinematic space is also experiencing fundamental shifts, notably in the abandonment of its distinctive forms. Since the centenary in 1995 of the first film projections for public audiences, and during the subsequent rise and expansion of the digital era, multiple predictions of ‘the end’ of film have made made. Although it still possesses a formidable industrial presence, within media corporations, film, in many ways, has lost its unique status, and become an abandoned entity, formed of abandoned images. At the same time, film appears an ineradicable presence that vivifies memory, overhauls architecture, and engages in an intricate and intensive confrontation with the human eye. Film also holds its own approaches to sensory self-abandonment, and its particular, strategic formulations of ‘the end’. This book probes the dynamics of film at a pivotal moment in its history, when it may either disappear into the engulfing forms of digital-media industries, or else be reconfigured, by its infiltration into new forms of human vision. Above all, the book examines and visualises conceptions of the ‘abandonment’ of film, and its wide-ranging implications, by scrutinising (and inhabiting) in depth a revealing terrain of cinematic abandonment: the Broadway avenue of twelve ruined cinemas, once-grandiose and excessive, now derelict but intact, in Downtown Los Angeles, which offer their extraordinary facades and interiors as screens for the exploration of film’s end.”
Published by Reaktion Books, 2010