Accepted paper:

Digital Days: The Unstable Archive of Cinema

Author:

Kuhu Tanvir

Paper short abstract:

This paper will argue that the shift from celluloid to digital changes the access and the archive of cinema. Unlike the traditional archive, this non-material archive is mobile as the film-object and its paraphernalia move between users resulting in the creation of a network of archives.

Paper long abstract:

For Jacques Derrida, the archive, in its oppressive domiciliation, is a space in arrest. Endowed with a sense of national responsibility, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) manifests this oppression as it preserves a heritage that is rooted in a generalized notion of 'high-culture'. This paper will explore an institutional archive like the NFAI that is arguably marked by stasis and the unofficial, nearly unintentional archive of cinema that is on the Internet, in a comparative grid in order to deliberate on the spaces and forces that are instrumental to the creation of a history of cinema in India. I will argue that the change of materiality—from celluloid to digital—is at the centre of this altered notion of an archive of cinema. Contrary to the fixity of the traditional archive, this non-material archive is essentially mobile as the film-object and all its paraphernalia constantly move between users resulting in the creation of a network of archives. With the user at the centre, the historiographic practices of this archive are decidedly different. This paper will explore sites like YouTube, Wikipedia and online pirate practices to map the way in which this non-material archive destabilizes history with its emergent, anonymous and anecdotal interpolations into existing histories of films, stars and allied industries. Thus the replacing of celluloid with its cheaper and supposedly fraudulent simulacra gives way to a viral film culture that is no longer bound by national boundaries and has a haphazard, anti-monumental but certainly richer archive.

panel P27
Cinema matters: the changing film object in a globalizing world