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The production of evidence: early scientific cinema in Italy

Bertelli, Linda The production of evidence: early scientific cinema in Italy. In: Film-Philosophy Conference 2013: Beyond Film, July 10-12, 2013, Amsterdam, Netherlands (Unpublished) (2013)

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As Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (among others) argue, the middle of the nineteenth century saw an important shift in which the image began to function as proof of scientific objectivity and as a medium that replaces (or seeks to replace) the form of representation reflecting the will of the creator with a mechanical reproduction of reality (Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books, 2007). Scholars agree that scientific photography and, a few years later, scientific cinema (which evolved from the photographic study of bodily movements) constitute the two primary and parallel technological tools employed in the pursuit of this objectivity; they served to shape, or even construct, the statute of “evidence” as we have defined and currently define it and the relationship of such evidence with the practice of experimentation and, thereby, its “production” (along with all that follows in terms of notions of authenticity, belief and doubt). This proposal seeks to analyze, within this theoretical framework I have so briefly synthesized, two exemplary cases that are crucial to reconstructing the history of scientific cinema in Italy: the collaboration between Filoteo Alberini (1867-1937), Cines director and founder, and Osvaldo Polimanti (1869-1947), the future director of the Institute of Physiology at Perugia University as well as the currently better-known collaboration between Roberto Omegna (1876-1948), pioneer of the documentary film genre, and Camillo Negro (1861-1927), the Turin-based neurologist. I will pursue a historical reconstruction of these collaborations: in the Polimanti/Alberini case, I will specifically analyze their 1905 research that used the cinematographic method to look at the motorial effects provoked by cerebral lesions, while for the Negro/Omegna case particular attention will be granted to analyzing La Neuropatologia, the 1908 film produced through their collaboration. This reconstruction will be aimed at examining the tensions – visible in the images themselves – between these filmic creations and the emergent idea of mechanical objectivity that at any rate constitutes the jumping off point for these creations, as explicitly expressed in the authors’ intentions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Research Area: Economics and Institutional Change
Depositing User: Ms T. Iannizzi
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2014 15:47
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2014 15:47
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/2103

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