Editing Theory Through Edits: Looking at Béla Balázs and Lev Kuleshov

by Matthew Ari Elfenbein

A close-up of a person, tears streaming down or a smirk wiped across, this face emanates emotions and cognitive clues. On the other hand, there are hundreds of eyes staring back at this image, scrutinizing or empathizing with the character. The picture continually changes to associated objects and different perspectives, creating the processes of expressing meaning. This allusion creates a platform to explore an essential aspect of cinema, which is to convey emotions or display reality through photographs in motion, which is the apex of this art. In this response to the conventions of cinema, I will be exploring the writing of Béla Balázs and Lev Kuleshov, in order to better understand how the close-up and editing both convey meaning and identification crucial to cinema’s narrative quality.

In order to grasp the connections of these theories, let us explore their impact on cinema individually. In Béla Balázs essay, “The Close-Up”, he begins by explaining the breakdown of cinematic elements that together create meaning. In film, the image constantly shifts perspective on an object, allowing multiple interpretations within the congruous space, which are called shots. According to Balázs, these individual shots do not create meaning on their own, but rather the conjunction of these shots through editing heightens continuity and connotation. When discussing the relationship between shot, Balázs forces the importance of the materializing of a cinematic space and time, similar enough so audiences are able to believe of the image as reality. Within the confines of this space, continuous movements that correlate with each other, which will eventually be further discussed in his essay, “The Face of Man”. Balázs seems to focus on the importance of the space, which has him neglect the time aspect, proportionately in the text. When he discusses sound, as maintaining the spatial area of a scene, he does not seem to mention how it also creates a temporal linkage between images. Sound is pivotal in continuity editing because it sonically bridges the cuts together, thus making them “invisible”; however, Balázs merely focuses on the spatial orientation of the object, which shows his aversion for the talkie cinema and the future of spectatorship; although, he was not as outspoken on this topic as were a number of his colleagues at the time.

The main argument that Balázs develops concerns the close-up, or the ability to capture detailed fragments of the object or situation. This ability to highlight and single out objects becomes his main reasoning of expression, being able to reinterpret and reinforce meaning by focusing on minuscule detail. All of this theory derived from the very short essay has achieved longevity, with many of the ideas still evident in classical Hollywood cinema today. To provide additional evidence on the importance of the close-up and editing in the conveyance of meaning, Lev Kuleshov’s essay “The Principles of Montage” begins to show how cinema allows spectators to “observe the world” (Kuleshov 137). Where Balázs begins to formulate the ideology of continuity editing and close-up to induce connotation, Kuleshov interprets editing and meaning to arise from montage, the juxtaposition of shots to produce implication of society. He focuses his argument on the idea that Soviet stories engage with the collective working people, rather than in the capitalist system that is character-driven (Soviet montage vs. Hollywood continuity). Kuleshov, like Balázs, is concerned with the spatial configuration within the filmic image, as well as among the spectators, looking at their role in interpreting the messages of the film. Through the organization of the juxtaposed images, spectators are supposed to be positioned in a way that would cause them to rebel against the system, not merely sit back and escape into the narrative.

The point where these two theories intersect and mingle appears when Kuleshov insists that montage is created through the mechanism of close-up. Not only does this reinforce the idea of Soviet montage being mainly a cinematic phenomena, but also we see how the cinematic apparatus’ capturing is not inert, but capable of revolutionary ideas. Here the detail of image in the close-up connected with juxtaposed editing can create meaning based on the object alone, because of its removal within its space. To better articulate this concept we should place attention to the example of the film Battleship Potemkin [1925] wherein this idea is discernable from the lion statuettes or the famous woman getting stabbed with the sword sequences. By placing these objects in close-up, the image is removed from its surroundings, allowing it to function as a singular entity, which Balázs would attribute to cinema’s relief of our human “short-sightedness and superficiality” (Balázs 129). Within the aforementioned sequences, the close-up removes the subjects from the collective mass of people, thus focusing in on a singular spatial-temporal moment to evoke a strong emotion from the audience. Another aspect of the close-up that compliments the montage theory is how the attention to detail is played along with the tempo of the editing, in that images are instilled with momentum. For instance, the lion statuettes are positioned in a way that create the illusion of them waking up in alarm, all by manipulating the tempo of the edits. Modifying the tempo, either quicker or slower, and attaching an image to it allows the film to juxtapose meaning, and create an ideological purpose throughout the images. While this example focuses on the revolutionary style of Soviet montage, regular classical examples can be attributed; for example, in The Godfather [1972] during the Baptism scene, the close-up Michael Corleone is edited with multiple murders, along with fast editing tempo the montage correlates more along with Balázs’ idea of meaning through editing.

According to Kuleshov, the rhythm of a shot can be due to the character’s acting within the close-up, not exclusively with editing. This idea brings up moments of the film The Passion of Joan of Arc [1928], where long take close-ups fill the screen radiating meanings and emotions through the microscopic facial movements that allows for identification. Not only does Joan of Arc’s stare permeate the screen and audience, but also there is a reversal with the spectator gazing back. The spectators are in a position to identify with the characters, as well as project their own preconceptions of the situation, making the character a victim of appropriation. Through the spectator’s gaze, in combination with editing, a film is able to project meaning and emotion through associations of events or situations. This can be also seen within the film Queen Christina [1933] in that the ending of the film tracks into a close-up of Greta Garbo’s face. Many interpretations of the face can be surmised due to the long take’s lack of editing, demonstrating how Balázs’ idea of the face being able to convey meanings through expression come into play. Without context from the remainder of the film, spectators are left to take other cues to associate with her emotions; therefore, while Kuleshov would probably not find this revolutionary, he was more sympathetic towards acting as deriving meaning than some of his peers. This scene of Garbo’s face would lend to his idea that the apparatus’ capture of this image brings into question the societal position of the character, since he was concerned with power struggles of the different classes, and in a sense this scene achieves this through her gamut of expressions in order to project her emotional journey. He also believes the idea that actors/actresses are able to derive meaning from their physical being, which can be viewed as early ideas of the star system. By combining Kuleshov and Balázs, the star persona is able to portray emotions and meaning with close-up and this association to the audience allows them to identify with the film.

So far, this analysis has examined how these theories are in conjunction with the cinematic arts, but I want to turn the picture and look at an example that complicates these matters. In the Agnes Varda film, Le Bonheur [1965], we are introduced to a very strong masculine gaze, which overpowers the women and introduces an odd story line of infidelity. One of the conventions that the film employs is color-washing the screen as transitions between major scenes. By following this practice, a couple things occur that would disturb Balázs and Kuleshov, in that editing tempo and meaning from the close-up gaze become unstable. When Balázs discusses the idea that altering shots very minutely would not destroy continuity, he was establishing the idea that scenes would be connected to secure a film’s meaning; however, what the color transitions do is reorient the spectator – disturbing their gaze – and reconfigures what corresponding scenes mean to one another. The transitions also separate the sound of each scene, impairing the continuity of the narrative and positioning the spectators to consider the temporality of the film’s construction. On the other hand, Kuleshov’s theory of montage becomes heightened because if montage depends on the linking of scenes through juxtaposition, then by placing bright primary colors between the scenes it would illicit a sort of reaction. In this occurrence, the colors do not create the revolutionary mass-collection momentum that Kuleshov strides for; however, the colors act as a pallet cleanser, resetting the spectators’ continual and engrossed gaze on the subject. The power of color’s influence on spectators is another whole other set of theories, but in this case I feel that its main goal is to reimagine the connection of scenes and how meaning arises – or is squandered – with interruptions of editing conventions.

By examining the theories of Béla Balázs and Lev Kuleshov, we discover the importance of editing, the filmic image, and performance in both of their works. These two works also begin to look at some of the conventions that are specific to cinema, such as close-ups and their connection with other shots to create meaning, as well as ideological changes in the manipulation of emotional filmic moments. There are a variety of interpretations to consider when it comes to these theorists’ other works, but for now this combination shines light on the basic cinematic conventions that seem to span across the conventional art, and attacked by avant-garde filmmakers; therefore, showing that there are concrete conventions in these two ideologies, which others want to tamper with, thus changing the theories of film.

Works Cited

Balázs, Béla. “The Close-Up.” Critical Visions in Film Theory: Classic and Contemporary 

Readings. Ed. Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White, and Meta Mazaj. Boston: Bedford/St.

Martin’s, 2011. 127-30. Print.

The Battleship Potemkin. Dir. Sergei Eisenstein. Goskino, 1925.

The Godfather. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Al Pacino. Paramount Pictures, 1972.

Kuleshov, Lev. “The Principles of Montage.” Critical Visions in Film Theory: Classic and 

Contemporary Readings. Ed. Timothy Corrigan, Patricia White, and Meta

Mazaj. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. 137-44. Print.

Le Bonheur. Dir. Agnès Varda. Perf. Jean-Claude Drouot and Marie-France Boyer.

Columbia, 1965.

The Passion of Joan of Arc. Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer. Perf. Renee Falconetti. Société

Génerale De Films, 1928.

Queen Christina. Dir. Rouben Mamoulian. Perf. Greta Garbo. Loew’s Inc., 1933.


Modern Fatalistic Musicals: A Video Essay

The video essay can be considered a supplement or database to the larger paper, since it reframes the research in a practical mode of exhibition.  The video also is meant to raise questions, allowing further research and exploration into the subject.  If you have any questions and would like to get in touch, please use the Contact page to do so.

Writing History: “May and December” and “Never Again!”

The following slideshows are in place to accompany the written composition on the topic.  If you are interested in the larger work, please let me know through my Contact page.  For context, the introduction of my paper is included below.

by Matthew Ari Elfenbein


Within the depths of the Library of Congress’ vaults, there lies an early cinema collection, with material that holds the origins of Hollywood cinema and the studio system.  Before copyright for film and celluloid was possible, studios would reprint every scene onto a paper reel, thus preserving the image and protecting their intellectual property.  Early in my exploration of the archives, I came across an interesting film, May and December, which due to its nature as a split reel feature is prevalent to study.  According to Kemp Niver and evidenced in the placement of reviews in The Moving Picture World, the accompanying film is another comedy titled Never Again.  Analyzing these two films together will provide insight on the studio output practices in 1910, the personnel hierarchy, and how less prestigious films were marketed and received.[1]

May and December and Never Again are two short comedies, despite the fact that the latter is classified as a drama in some accounts, that were released June of 1910 by the Biograph Company as a split reel. A split-reel consists of two films in the same program that is marketed and exhibited together, even though the films can be purchased separately. These two conflicting points set the tone of this history, one that is filled with ambiguity and divergences. The first source of information concerning the paper print collection leads us to Kemp Niver, who documented all the films in the vault, although we know his account is not always factual.  For instance, in this record D.W. Griffith directed this film, but in all other accounts, which will be discussed later, Frank Powell is credited with heading the production.  This discrepancy causes a conundrum concerning the quality of production and the subsequent exhibition. These pictures were not given preferential treatment, and most likely placed among more elaborate films within a program, but they are consistently actor and actress produced with Griffith, more likely than not, supervising.

The promotional and editorial material that would have circulated before these films were shown to the public provides good insight into understanding the public’s taste and expectations.  Eileen Bowser’s research and compilation of the Biograph Bulletin leads to the in-house publicity.  Not only is Never Again placed at the top of the page, a marker of which is the feature picture of the two, but also this film accompanies a picture of the cast with autographs.  It seems Biograph was beginning to market their star players, thus emphasizing the relationship that would form to create “fans” and “stars”.  A leitmotif that will continually come about is that of ambiguity and lack of clarity.  The first discontinuity comes about on the page and on the film, since the order of the two pictures is normally (as evidenced by the Paper Print collection, Kemp Niver print, and a recent nitrate version in the LOC) May and December followed by Never Again, so why does this publication place special emphasis on the latter? The following attempts to document all the various areas of information that is available regarding these films, the outcome will demonstrate the understanding of these films within a larger cultural context of silent films.

[1] May and December. Dir. Frank E. Powell. By Mary Pickford. Perf. Mary Pickford, Billy Quirk, Kate Bruce, W. Christy Miller, and Charles H. Mailes. Biograph Co., 1910.

Never Again. Dir. Frank E. Powell. Perf. Mary Pickford, Billy Quirk, and Mack Sennett. Biograph Co., 1910.

May and December, 1910. Directed by Frank Powell


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Never Again!, 1910. Directed by Frank Powell


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Film Theory Discussion

by Matthew Ari Elfenbein

Digital cinema has become a mainstay in studying this art because of how reliable and easy it is to use and maintain. I have always been curious in any class where we study “moving images” because this places the emphasis on still images being passed through a projector at 24 frame per second; however, this apparatus practice is not used too much anymore, especially within a multimedia enabled classroom. Normally, in today’s context, we watch film to digital transfers on DVDs, Blu-rays, or on the Internet, which is further encoded with a digital projector. The flickering images of celluloid were once a thing of the past, with projectors boasting their “better-than-human” visual refreshing rate, we are left to study these animated images as coded and pixelated representations. After reading Elsaesser and Hagener’s chapter on digital cinema,

I am apprehensive to distinguish this as a thorough introduction of these ideas, since the chapter merely touches on the popular ideas of relating the cinema (and other forms of digital media) to the body, it does not emphasize the capability of the visualization of digital cinema as mind. What I define as “mind” would be the same as the narrowing of the space between the “immediacy and intimacy to the human-machine relationship”, which can be seen with technologies that visualizes the mind in order to reach singularity (or a form of it) to make cinema a personal experience (Erkki Huhtamo as seen in Seeking Deeper Contact Interactive Art as Metacommentary).

The chapter also gives Lev Manovich a lot of space, as an authority figure in digital cinema. While I am not contesting his influential work in the subject area, I am concerned at the lack of representation from other theorists, whom sometimes come closer to the nuanced ideas than Manovich. The lack of mentioning these other theorists such as Erik Bucy, Timothy Barker, or Lynn Hershman also fails to bring up the importance of interactivity within digital cinema. In the age where Netflix and YouTube allow interface manipulation to find personal taste of material, we are no longer in the age of Software cinema, which generally generates its own material without user interaction. There should be more emphasis on interactivity because society is moving in that direction. To further nuance the Elsaesser and Hagener chapter, interactive technology and its connection to cinema is increasingly becoming more haptic and tactile, which would nicely agree with their overall argument of Digital cinema as the body if they included it.

Coming to the film Sleep Dealer there are many instances where this idea of mind and body come forth, allowing the film to force the notion of labor as interactive media. This can be conferred on the fact that the character Memo, while working as a sleep dealer, is engaging with virtual reality that does not allow him to passively engage with the image. The active manipulation of the VR is consequential of a cyborg welding in another space, which brings up notions of artificial intelligence because we begin to see where the intelligence is emanating from. A scene that was not mentioned in the Sarah Ann Wells reading, “The Scar and the Node: Border Science Fiction and the Mise-en-scene of Globalized Labor” of another nondescript sleep dealer laborer seemingly going into shock as a result of his counterpart cyborg being destroyed. While the scene was important for the narrative later on, this scene was interesting because it brought up the notion of the creation of a single being through connection, i.e. a symbiotic relationship depending on one another for survival. The idea that the symptoms of being connected, as life blood, can also criticize the labor diffusion, since both parties are affected by mistakes; although, one could argue the importance of human life compared to monetary investment of robots. This sequence also brings up ideas of connection to technology that critiques the interconnectedness of humans with their technology along with the fatality of separating the link, similar to taking someone’s phone from them.

Wells briefly mentions the phallic symbolism associated with industrial tools, and I would like to take it one step further by arguing that going along with the idea of nodes and the connections, the phallic becomes the means of production. Where Wells places the nodes within the idea that they feminize the male workers, by penetrating them, they also act along the male-centric idea that technology connection is the means for work. No longer is connection associated with the pleasure, as further propagated within James Cameron’s Avatar, but without the phallic insertion of the connection then the male-driven workplace (as I recall majority of the “employees” were male) in Sleep Dealer would not be able to operate.

To close this connection of Elsaesser and Hagener’s Digital Cinema chapter with the ideas of Sarah Ann Wells, I find the omission of the mind throughout these writing stunning. The mind has so much impact on the body and of output. This output can be through interactive cinema or through virtual reality labor, both of these utilize the brain and mind of an individual, the means of ideas, and it seems to become sidestepped all over. There is a lot of research still to accomplish, but I think by including some of what has come about with the link of digital cinema and the body-mind there can be larger strides to understanding “moving images” within a coded language.

Interactive Cinema Final

For the full paper please Contact Me, this page contains an abstract and the accompanying interactive film.  This film attempts to reinterpret the primary paper.

Information and knowledge has changed how it is disseminated across cultural and social boundaries.  Looking at museums as the case study to figure how interactive technology has expanded the amount of information and the methods of learning, becomes the overall focus of this paper and supplemental film.  By exploring interactive apps, touch-screen monitors, maps, and virtual museums the research expounds on the methods of communicating to the growing diverse society. This all comes down to how other teaching institutions can reinterpret their methods, in order to make knowledge inclusive to all children and adults.  The supplemental interactive film to the research paper can be found at Eko.

A Window into Dreamlands

by Matthew Ari Elfenbein

On a recent visit to the Whitney Museum’s exhibit, Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, I wanted to explore how the artists had placed their pieces in a gallery setting in order to imitate film as reality.  This concept of film as actuality appears throughout film history, and Gregg Toland – cinematographer of Citizen Kane  beautifully conceptualizes this by writing,

“The picture should be brought  to the screen in such a way that the audience would feel it was looking at reality, rather than merely a movie.” (Toland 54).

There were a couple notable pieces that created the perception of looking through a window to the real world, outside of the gallery.

The first piece to mention is Bruce Connor’s Crossroads  from 1976.  In this installation, spectators are placed before a larger-than-life screen, witnessing slowed up accounts of the nuclear underwater testing at Bikini Atoll.  What this giant screen attempts to evoke is the feeling of seeing these events as if the spectator was actually there.  The largeness of the explosion image becomes amplified in slower speed, forcing spectators to sit in awe of the spectacle of the image.  This provides the experience of witnessing the image as if it was actually happening on the other side of the screen, making it like a window.  As theaters are promoting larger screens nowadays to encapsulate the audience, this specific exhibition renders the audience as mere observers of the onscreen explosions.


The floor to ceiling screen creates a window to the massive events.

Another piece that recreates the act of looking out a window would be Artie Vierkant’s 2009 piece, Exposure Adjustment on a Sunset.  This particular exhibit uses a television and plays the action of an ocean with the sunset.  This might be the most literal piece of looking out a window, but it does beg to differ the technology to create this.  While it is simply a video recording, the changes in exposure attempt to mimic the effects of the sun’s brightness to an onlooker.  The image becomes harder to see as the sun becomes stronger, and vice versa.  What is also being played around with is the fact that the gallery is in New York City, far from the sights of the video; therefore, spectators are looking through a window of fantasy, being transported to a tropical-esq environment through vision.


This “fantasy” window of the ocean.  The quality of the image was victim to the technology of the time.

In retrospect, Dreamlands provides an afternoon filled with pieces that forces spectators to re-conceptualize film as a medium and projection.  By including the pieces that insinuate windows into other events, the exhibition creates a meta-window into the materiality of the light being projected all over the space.


“Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016.” Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905–2016 | Whitney Museum of American Art. Audi, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2016.

Toland, Gregg. “Realism for ‘Citizen Kane,'” American Cinematographer 21 (Feb. 1941). 54.

Controlling an Art: Video Games and Interaction

by Matthew Ari Elfenbein

On a recent visit to The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, I came across the Arcade Classics installation. The exhibition showcased vintage arcade games in a way that interactivity components became apparent in their evolution over time. While looking at the manipulation the user has on these games, with controllers, brought me to further study the narrative structures. Watching many generations fawning over these machines brought me to ponder why these nostalgic interactions are still sought out. The variety of manipulation of the storyline and characters has changed with the new technologies. By mapping out these concepts the physical controllers of video games can show us how we experience this augmented reality.

The aesthetics and automation of the video game utilizes designs found in cinematic artistry. The two formats utilize some form of narrative and character development, and the advancement of plot from some antagonizing force. In the 1970s and 1980s, while other media and media-reproducers were garnering public use in the domestic sphere, the cinema experienced some trouble finding its place with user manipulation within a cohesive and economical fashion. Of the forerunning interactive experiences, 3D was becoming used in increasing films; however, this was not easy to come by and there did not seems to be any innovations to invigorate the spectator’s palate. There was fear that this artistic period was void of all participatory art forms, ruminated by Rudolf Frieling, who was convinced that the period’s social concept of partaking in art was altered (Carpentier, 15). However, when the opportunity was not in the theater, a chance to engage with a new form of entertainment emerged with the video game. Video games possess a transference of narrative disposition in its attempts to move from “showing not telling” along to “doing not showing.” This idea becomes clear through the use of external controllers connected to the virtual world.


“Pong” utilizes two knobs to move the virtual paddle, thus changing the landscape of the game.

Many various forms of knobs and sticks have gained us access to these virtual worlds, but arguably the most primitive of them all are the buttons, which allow users to control a variety of commands. This mode has an interesting story in the context of the relationships of video games and cinema. The button allows for an easy and tactile way for the participant to manipulate the environment of the medium they are watching. Especially in video games there are many aspects where interactivity and predestined actions become blurred and one could attribute them to embodying an omniscient force. This connection is made more believable by using tactile controls to engage, which Erkki Huhtamo theorizes makes the game a “conversation versus a lecture” (Huhtamo, “Seeking Deeper Contact”). Instead of being passive, like in mainstream cinema, the video game encourages and demands taking advantage of the mobility in the game. One place where this concept intersects with cinema is the film, Kinoautomat, which is considered the first interactive film. The mechanisms of this cinematic experience are two buttons, which allow the participants to vote for the path they want the character Mr. Novak to travel. The spectators are the cause of plot maneuvering, which also continues the conceptualization of the spectator as an omniscient agent. Erik Bucy quickly contradicts the concept that the conversation is predetermined, calling it, “erroneous” that through an interaction of machine and person the outcome usually will be steered towards optimism because it aligns with the user’s desires; however, it is quickly apparent in Kinoautomat and many video games we are faced with negative outcomes from our consequences (Bucy 374). Arguably, Mr. Novak becomes a video game character in the sense that there is a two-way exchange with the film and the participants. He embodies the manipulated character dependent on the user to decide his destiny, similar to a video game. This only illustrates a fragment of the manipulation capability of the users, as we see with more complex games becoming broader in interactivity.

The joystick, a popular and traditional mode, allows for 360-degree movement in the games plane; however, in more primitive games it was usually strictly restricted for horizontal and vertical movement. (There was also the use of knobs, like in the arcade version of Pong.) The games that utilize this control do not allow for much human input, since the game will guide the gestures, and there is the idea of “[thinking] with his/her fingers,” since there is not much agency in this contact (Huhtamo). While there continues to be a forward progression in the narrative, there seems to be more limitations of changing the outcome, compared to using the buttons. However, people still flock to these games because they remember a time of happiness. The game “Pole Position” utilizes a steering wheel and a joystick in order to maneuver the playing field as if you were driving the virtual car. There is a sense of “safe-danger” by using the apparatus of the wheel; thus, allowing horizontal movement, while the joystick is used to control the speed and represented with vertical progression. Basically, the controllers allow for up and down, side to side movement; thus, putting people in pseudo-control and providing a connection with the material.


“Pole Position” uses a steering wheel and joystick to maneuver the terrain.

There is an entire culture behind the idea of reminiscing and older media, such as video games, converge with the concept of technostalgia, coined by Tim van der Heijden, which shows how older technology becomes repurposed or invigorated in order to give a sense of nostalgia. Since van der Heijden mentions how this concept cannot recapture feelings from the past, this means that when interacting with the games, new attributes conglomerate with past ones. When the user plays these games again, with familiar tactility and story, it allows them to access their memories and relives them. Since the video game is somewhat limiting in this regard it does still evoke the feeling of interactivity because the experience is as much pragmatic as it is encompassing with technology (Bucy 376). While the user’s interaction can come from the tactile control they have within the joystick, there seems to be a large aspect of it that resonates internally as well.

According the Huhtamo, the end-goal for these interactive arts does not come with encompassing the spectator or participant into the cinematic or virtual environment; however, society has seemed to turn off this path, and immersion became less of a hypothetical practice in more recent years (the article was published in 1995). A composite of cinema and video games has came into existence, where intersecting comes in the form of 4-D and motions games. In these environments, the spectator is physically contained inside the movements and situations of the mise-en-scene. In 1988, Sega came out with “Galaxy Force II” which fostered inclusion of narrative and participant, being in control of the “spaceship” and the responsive 360-degree rotating and tilting was in response to a controller. While being totally immersed in the narrative and environment, it was easy to feel totally in control of the video game. By introducing the movement aspect to the occurrence, it gave the game added dimensionality and made the narrative address the user more directly. This experience can be attributed to the direct act of controlling character’s agency, as embodied in the film Gamer. This motion driven game, “Galaxy Force II,” removed the automated aura and replaced it with the concept of user-control; although, in retrospect there was still limited control due to the limited capacity of the technology. Here the users all “perceive a different range of affordances,” bringing to the forefront the concept that interactivity becomes a subjective experience, which is not necessarily associated with the technology of the piece (Bucy 376). This concept is not alien to cinema, especially in the modern theater, where exhibitors are trying to draw in customers by immersing them with motion seating and wall-to-wall 3D projections. Audiences are also able to physically be in a familiar world, allowing them to marvel on their imagination and enter a world that is marked with being safe and unharmed, like the memories of childhood. In terms of “Galaxy Force II,” by clarifying that actions create consequences with the joystick, the technostalgia reminds of this lesson and can remind someone that their actions are not the end-all in this situation, they have another chance.


“Galaxy Force II” brings the user into the narrative through the responsive motion.

The visit to the Museum of the Moving Image sparked my curiosity of appreciating how interactive technology has conglomerated within the video game medium, and how it further translated into the cinema and the human psyche. There are many more areas to discover with this parallel, for example where will video games and cinema finally cross? Will we continue to see advancements on the older modes of interacting with narrative and how will that bring about a new era of cinema? These are just some questions that seemed relevant to explore in relation to recent scholarship of the processes of interactivity. It is an exciting time to be able to witness the full timeline of this art, and how this the modern period continues to experiment how audiences will be able to interact with media.

Word Count: 1508


-Bucy, Erik P. “Interactivity in Society: Locating an Elusive Concept.” The Information Society 20.5 (2004): 373-83. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

-Carpentier, Nico. “A Short History of Cultural Participation.” Transforming Culture in the Digital Age. Eds. Agnes Aljas, Raivo Kelomees, Marin Laak, Pille Pruulmann-Vengerfeldt, Tiina Randviir, Pille Runnel, Maarja Savan, Jaak Tomberg, Piret Viires. Estonian National Museum, Estonian Literary Museum, University of Tartu. 11-19.

-Heijden, Tim Van Der. “Technostalgia of the Present: From Technologies of Memory to a Memory of Technologies.” NECSUS. European Journal of Media Studies 4.2 (2015): 103-21. Web.

-Huhtamo, Erkki. “Seeking Deeper Contact.” Seeking Deeper Contact. Ken Feingold Artworks, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.

-Kinoautomat’s official website: http://www.kinoautomat.cz/index.htm?lang=gbr