A Retro Affair: silver emulsion in the age of digital
Paper short abstract:
This paper locates the special experiences inherent in the fast disappearing world of emulsion cinema with its essentially organic engagement with the world and its chimerical image-making; a world highlighted by its inaccessibility to the superhighway of digital cinema.
Paper long abstract:
With this paper I am interested in opening up the possibilities of the world of silver emulsion films. My relationship to the medium could perhaps be understood as a 'retro affair'; a certain romanticization of that which is now 'endangered' and hence belongs to another time and is seen as 'rare'. But it is undeniable that working with film emulsion offers an engagement with the elemental magic of cinema that is all but lost in the electronic world of digital cinema. Digital tape or hard drives of necessity must be factory made and must be run on more factory made items. That the world of 'hand-made' is possible when working with 'film' is a curiously liberating phenomenon and one perhaps not thought about enough till the current onslaught of digital technology in the world of photography and cinema. In our post-digital world the world of emulsion films is become analogous to the experience of 'cooking', where one may begin with raw ingredients and depending on one's touch may create a completely different 'dish', (and could be anything from scrumptious to inedible!). Here the raw ingredients could refer to anything from making one's emulsion, camera as well as projector. The parallel of such a cinema with that of 'cooking' & 'eating' lies in its parallels of preparation, ritual, performance and communal nature. Further, the experiential nature of emulsion-based cinema in a digital era brings an aesthetics of cinema that lends itself to a viewership located in a bodily-based affective engagement.
Exploring aesthetic experiences and practices