Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Film Studies

First Advisor

Altman, Rick

Second Advisor

Wittenberg, David

First Committee Member

Amad, Paula

Second Committee Member

Creekmur, Corey

Third Committee Member

Peters, John D.


In recent years, as digital technologies have swept across the motion picture industry, scholars have seen the need to rethink what cinema means today and whether it continues at all. Studies typically resolve this crisis in one of two ways: by proclaiming the "end of cinema" or by showing how new technologies satisfy the continued demands for narrative and photorealism. What has largely escaped consideration is how the history of cinema itself might be rethought, and more specifically how the "digital revolution" might be seen to open up a new perspective on the history and trajectory of cinematic technologies. Calculative Cinema explores how cinema was calculative from the very beginning, with celluloid film being used in areas that had no pretensions toward narrative or photorealistic representation such as scientific imaging, data storage, and early analog computing.

The project starts from a belief that any history of cinema appropriate to our present situation must be a history of new proportions, in terms of both timeline and scope. For this reason, it draws broadly from different disciplinary perspectives, including media theory, the history and theory of technology, art history, and developments in scientific imaging and computation. It seeks to relate philosophical investigations, avant- garde art practices, and modern historiography to the development of cinematic technologies, and does this by tracing seemingly outlying cases in the history of physics, cybernetics, and sound reproduction in order to locate the technical tendency common to these fields and its characteristic folding between picturing and measurement, cinema and calculation, cinematics and kinematics. Taking this expanded view of its technological base the dissertation then reflects back on the pervasive sense of cinema as an interface commensurate with human experience, in this way recontextualizing discourses on the death of cinema as symptomatic of a new cultural relation to cinematic technologies.


cinema, computing, film, media, scale, technology


x, 387 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 365-387).


Copyright 2013 Kyle Joseph Stine