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Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles (Leonardo Book Series) [Print Replica] [Kindle Edition]

Erkki Huhtamo
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Print List Price: £33.95
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  • Print ISBN-10: 0262018519
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-0262018517
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Book Description

Beginning in the late eighteenth century, huge circular panoramas presented their audiences with resplendent representations that ranged from historic battles to exotic locations. Such panoramas were immersive but static. There were other panoramas that moved--hundreds, and probably thousands of them. Their history has been largely forgotten. In <I>Illusions in Motion</I>, Erkki Huhtamo excavates this neglected early manifestation of media culture in the making. The moving panorama was a long painting that unscrolled behind a "window" by means of a mechanical cranking system, accompanied by a lecture, music, and sometimes sound and light effects. Showmen exhibited such panoramas in venues that ranged from opera houses to church halls, creating a market for mediated realities in both city and country. In the first history of this phenomenon, Huhtamo analyzes the moving panorama in all its complexity, investigating its relationship to other media and its role in the culture of its time. In his telling, the panorama becomes a window for observing media in operation. Huhtamo explores such topics as cultural forms that anticipated the moving panorama; theatrical panoramas; the diorama; the "panoramania" of the 1850s and the career of Albert Smith, the most successful showman of that era; competition with magic lantern shows; the final flowering of the panorama in the late nineteenth century; and the panorama's afterlife as a topos, traced through its evocation in literature, journalism, science, philosophy, and propaganda. <I>"Beneath the Surface" with Jon Wiener</I>

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Review

I would like to start with two indirect words of praise...for the author, not because he knows his subject so well and is able to communicate his knowledge in such a pleasant and convincing way (after all, this is what can be expected from any serious scholar), but for the love and passion that he has put in his research, and which are visible in every page in this book. No great scholarship without deep personal commitment, and of this statement as well Huhtamo's book is a great example. True, love and passion do not necessarily make great books, but great books become even greater if they take their origin in the author's fascination and awe (for it is not only the sublime and art with capital A, or death and horror, that may fill us with awe)...Chapter 7, for instance, on the career of Albert Smith, a moving panorama showman who was a celebrity in the 1850s, should be compulsory reading for all media historians, literary students, film scholars, as well as for all those who major or minor in marketing, business administration, and the creative industries. -- Jan Baetans Leonardo Online I can think of no other single volume which both documents -- with care and precision -- and explains, with such clarity and lively engagement -- this central aspect of the visual culture of the nineteenth century. Arctic Book Review In addition to filling in the gaps in knowledge plaguing this forgotten medium, Huhtamo's diligence in excavating the moving panorama in Illusions in Motion also provides historians and theorists with a map for traversing the new media landscape. Film Quarterly The role of moving panoramas in the birth of media culture should not be underestimated. This seminal volume does much to restore them to their rightful place in the history of visual culture. -- Jeffrey Mifflin Early Popular Visual Culture The book will be immediately canonical for scholars of visual culture, cinema, and media studies, and will also be valuable to scholars of literature, American studies, and 19th-century history...Huhtamo has replaced a relative silence on the moving panorama with a strong statement that realigns dominant narratives about the history of visual culture and demonstrates a powerful methodology for cinema and media studies. It will stand as a lasting contribution and inexhaustible source for future scholarship. -- Brooke Belisle Journal of Visual Culture Illusions in Motion guides the reader through the myriad of mediated realities across continents and from hand-held panoramic toys to utterly spectacular enterprises. -- Annika Johnson Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. A Journal of Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture As one of the leading proponents of media archaeology, Erkki Huhtamo's achievement is not only to recuperate the forgotten moving panorama to media history, but also to demonstrate how it offers innovative insights into the historical formation of media culture...A model undertaking of media archaeology, Illusions in Motion also represents a claim for the value of the meticulous, slow labour of historical scholarship, and the nuanced argument made possible by its most conventional form of dissemination, the printed book. -- Susan Potter Media International Australia For at least fifteen years, since the appearance of Stephan Oettermann's The Panorama, historians of nineteenth-century visual culture have recognized that we did not know the history of moving panoramas, but needed to. Although the moving panorama was a prominent feature of cultural life in Europe and the United States at the time, its actual history remained a blank space. With the publication of Huhtamo's work, that blank space no longer exists... From the peristrephic panorama to the diorama, to peepshow boxes, to the eidophusikon, Huhtamo's book recovers a largely forgotten history of nineteenth-century media and examines the moving panorama within this constellation of practices. -- Josh Ellenbogen The Art Bulletin Huhtamo's intellectual canvas is, perhaps inevitably, broad; his text ranges over the history of moving panoramas, bringing us from the early years of its invention to its mid-nineteenth-century apogee and beyond... The final chapters of the book are more reflective, considering the afterlife of the panorama and its place in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature, journalism, science, philosophy, and propaganda. -- John McAleer Technology and Culture

About the Author

Erkki Huhtamo, media historian and pioneering media archaeologist, is Professor in the Department of Design Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the coeditor of Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 30377 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (22 Feb. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DDTIZA2
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,520,872 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving panoramas 19 Jan. 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A terrific assembly of a lifelong interest in the subject by an academic who knows how to write accessibly. Beautifully produced, and I liked it even though it is a bit peripheral for me.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars resurrecting the memories of a dead technology 9 Mar. 2013
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The rise of photography and then later film was wonderful. But an inevitable consequence was the destruction of an unappreciated art form - the panorama. This was closely related to the three dimensional diorama. The latter survived into the 20th century largely in museums, as representations of extinct animals and environments.

Huhtamo describes how in contrast the panorama reached its peak in the 19th century. A story was painted onto a long rolling canvas. This canvas would then be held between 2 rollers, much like film was in cameras. [You do recall photographic film, or maybe not?] The canvas might be say 2 meters wide and many meters long. The rollers were held in a frame and cranked by a handle. There would be a speaker, declaiming from a nearby podium, while an assistant would ably turn the handle. In some elaborations, live music might be played by another person.

Before photography, this panorama was a means and maybe the only one of conveying a travelogue to an audience. To let them appreciate some exotic far away place. Like California in the 1850s gold rush, as portrayed to Americans of that time in the east coast. I was lucky to see such a reenactment at a Los Angeles Velaslavasay Panorama recently. At the same venue, on a different occasion, the author of this book spoke about his research.

Alas, once photography arose, even in black and white, the panorama was doomed. A photograph, though in black and white, was far easier to take and much more detailed than a colour imagining of an artist. What then arose was the modern slideshow. And when moving silent pictures came about in the early 20th century, the last bell rang for the panorama. But before the finale, several magnificent panoramas were made in Europe, as the book shows. The sheer effort was inspiring though ultimately doomed. The reader should admire the past efforts. Given the constraints of a pre-computer era, they did the utmost they could to convey the essence of another place and peoples.

Look especially at the discussion about the Paris panoramas. The author cautions us that we see how the French depicted often less advanced peoples, thru the lens of European colonialism. Some stereotyping was inevitable. Yet maybe there was still a genuine attempt to show other societies in a dispassionate manner.

The author has done us a service by resurrecting the forgotten memories of a dead technology.
5.0 out of 5 stars Illusions in Motion 21 April 2013
By Alice Arnold - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Erkki Huhtamo's book takes you on a deep journey into the origins of motion images and the development of a 'modern' way of seeing. It is a highly fascinating, complex and relevant history told from a unique perspective. The book captures both the bird's-eye view of history and the close up view that appears from a deep investigation of material artifacts. Reading "Illusions in Motion" has expanded my knowledge of visual culture immensely.
5.0 out of 5 stars Detail - both technical and social 6 May 2014
By N. Lowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A great catalog of details about mechanical entertainment devices. In depth explorations of the construction and manipulations of pre cinematic entertainment with excellent illustrations and great source references.
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