Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The beginning of digital cinema : digital computers and the moving image, 1957-1973
Author: Utterson, Andrew John
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 4081
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Between 1957 and 1973, the expressions and technologies of cinema came together with those of the nascent digital computer, establishing the so called universal machine as a cinematic machine, at a time when the potential forms and functions of this technology were still far from certain. This exchange anticipated the more recognised emergence of digital cinema, in the decades after 1973, and this study comprises a newly charted history, or pre-history, outlining the beginnings of digital cinema. The precise process by which the digital computer was negotiated by cinema represents, and played a part in, a broader shift in the social and symbolic status of the digital computer: from initial emergence as a commercial entity, in the 1950s (represented, on the level of thematic engagement, by the 1957 film Desk Set, arguably the first to represent a digital computer in recognisable form and to deal with the attitudes and anxieties that surrounded the increasing uses of this machine in society), to its subsequent proliferation, in the 1960s (encompassing the fervent experimentation of scientists and film-makers, often in collaboration, at sites beyond those typically associated with moving image production, as the digital computer was pioneered as a visual, aesthetic, and interactive machine, alongside further films concerned with this technology on the level of subject matter, whether as a tool for technocracy, in the 1965 film Alphaville [Alphaville, une etrange aventure de Lemmy Caution], or as a source of artificial intelligence, in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey), and its further absorption within society and the symbolic order (as Hollywood arrived at a use value for the digital computer, with the 1973 film Westworld, for which this machine was used both as a tool for the production of moving images, now subsumed within classical narrative norms, and as the basis for its narrative). It is this period and this process that we might collectively term the beginnings of digital cinema, an engagement that anticipated an era in which the digital computer would come to occupy a central position throughout much of society, not least in the realm of cinema. By considering this subject in detail for the first time, and in bringing together perspectives on films about digital computers and those produced using this same machine, this study outlines the conceptual and technological developments that anticipated the widespread use of the digital computer in cinema, both as subject matter and as means of production.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available