With the transition from celluloid to digital media, the discipline of film history is undergoing a fundamental transformation with far-reaching consequences; where researchers once specialized in specific directors, national traditions, movements, styles or epochs, the field is now expanding to examine the broader history of moving image technologies—their interaction with other domains of rationality (e.g. medicine, warfare) and their transnational circulation.
All three of the MIRL researchers work at the forefront of these developments, and all do so by investigating the relations between the history of moving image media and transformations in modernity’s understanding of the body, its movements and its perceptions. Whether examining the relation between moving images and the emergence of an “energetic body” in early 20th-century Europe (M. Cowan), the challenge posed to notions of the “live body” by the intermingling of performance and visual recording media in post-WWII North America (A. Thain), or the impact of the “soulful bodies” of digital animation on the formation of contemporary transnational network communities (T. Lamarre), each researcher probes the historical intersections between moving image media and changing bodily imaginaries in different historical and geographic situations.
The Moving Image Research Laboratory facilitates these and related investigations by providing two essential infrastructural components: a moving image analysis lab for the comparative analysis of moving images in several media formats and a data processing lab for the digitization of print and visual materials from the researchers’ specific domains.