We are very pleased to announce that we will presenting a panel on the research of Kinomatics at the Screen Studies Conference in Glasgow in late June, which this year has a focus on Landscape and Environment. Our panel will focus on 3 main components of our research: Scale, Flow, and Ranking. For information on the conference and panel times please see the SSC website.
Scaling: Kinomatics and Big Cinema Data
Deb Verhoeven, Alwyn Davidson, Colin Arrowsmith and Bronwyn Coate
This paper introduces The Kinomatics Project, a multidisciplinary study of the industrial geometry of motion pictures at an international scale. The project results from both the recent digitalisation of the cinema industries as well as contemporary research practices in the discipline. The researchers have collated a unique dataset of global cinema showtimes which alone, and in combination with additional datasets, challenge many of the unspoken assumptions and ordinary practices of conventional film studies research. The Kinomatics Project proceeds from the emergent understanding that the cinema is not an isolated set of practices. Cinema comprises institutional, social, and commercial networks that are interdependent which in turn influence and shape our approach to cinema research. The availability of big cultural data enables the unprecedented mapping of the industrial geometry of motion pictures at an international scale. To date digital research about cinema venues has been undertaken through of a series of initiatives produced “from below” (Maltby et al). Almost without exception the existing datasets that form the empirical basis for this digital cinema research have occurred at the national or sub-national level. Whilst the proliferation of these digital case studies has produced a great deal of methodological innovation in Cinema Studies, this disjointed approach has also resulted in a significant deficit in our understanding of the global nature of the cinema. Kinomatics is a first step to addressing the global, elastic, and networked nature of the contemporary international film industry that itself is currently producing and exploiting huge quantities and varieties of data.
Flowing: Cinema Histories Mis-placed
Alwyn Davidson, Colin Arrowsmith, Deb Verhoeven and Bronwyn Coate
The emergence of a body of scholarship that has become known as the New Cinema History addresses the assumption that the histories, cultural meaning, and social impact of the cinema is drawn predominantly from the content of films, and focuses instead on the industrial study of film exhibition, distribution and the social experience of the cinema. This refocusing has prompted the flourishing of new approaches to understanding the cultural places of cinema sometimes known as the ‘spatial turn’. Exploring the spatiality of cinema requires an appreciation of the temporal nature of cinema; the flow and change over time of place, distribution, and exhibition. This paper will present examples of various approaches to the spatial study of cinema drawn from research undertaken within The Kinomatics Project, a global study of cinema venues and film itineraries. These examples draw on mapping and geographical techniques to trace the flows and pace of industrial change in cinema and measure the intensity of its dynamics through studies of remittances, cinema venue history, and distribution andexhibition patterns. The paper will specifically address Doreen Massey’s (1997) suggestion that in the global era, ‘places’ serve as locations of exchange and flows (routes), rather than as autochthonous points of origin (roots).
Ranking: Re-placing Cinema Cities
Deb Verhoeven Alwyn Davidson, Bronwyn Coate and Colin Arrowsmith
“The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it.” (Umberto Eco)
There is a long tradition of listmaking among film enthusiasts. Movie Top Tens and Top 100s proliferate in the popular media. And nor is scholarship immune from the addictive pleasures of the list. Canonical rankings of film titles, directors, actors can be found liberally scattered amidst the pages of formal critical appraisals. But what is missing is an account of the generative attributes of ranking behaviours themselves. The Cinema City Index (cinemacities.com) is an online tool that allows film lovers to create their own rankings of Top Ten Cinema Cities. The site measures the ‘cinemability’ of cities, the ability for a city to support cinemagoing according to a range of criteria. Visitors are encouraged to engage with acts of ranking by creating their own algorithms to describe the relative importance of a number of cinema related variables, such as number of screens per capita, or the variety of films shown. The Cinema Cities application is not designed to capture a separate or prior reality, but rather to open up avenues for public speculation about the relationship between cities and the cinema. This paper examines the generative aspects of ranking with reference to the Cinema Cities index. It demonstrates the way ordinality produces new geographies of affiliation between cities using cinemagoing as a criteria such that it might be said that closeness or proximity itself is now organised through global flows of transnational popular culture. And it therefore opens wider questions about what it is that rankings purport to measure; so whilst cinemagoing is the ostensible object of our research, it is the cities themselves that are the subject.