André Gaudreault, professor at the Université de Montréal, holds the Canada Research Chair in Film and Media Studies (2015–2022) – the first level 1 research chair ever awarded in the field of cinema studies by the Canada Research Chairs Program. Under the aegis of this Chair, he founded the Laboratoire CinéMédias in 2016.
The mission of the Canada Research Chair in Film and Media Studies is to interrogate the role of technological innovation in the development of cinema forms and practices, and more precisely by paying special attention to the two extremities of the historical continuum: the advent of cinema properly speaking at the turn of the twentieth century, and, a century later, the irruption of the digital into the media landscape. Since 2018, this mandate has broadened by opening up the interdisciplinary research carried out at the Laboratoire CinéMédias to the cross-fertilization of ideas and expertise through new collaborations between scholars in media studies and those working in the health sciences and in pure and applied sciences. These collaborations between cinema studies scholars and scholars in the fields of neurology, biomechanics, physics and psychology seek make it possible to conjecture and carry out experiments in the manner of the “hard” sciences.
This field of research seeks to study discourses on cinema techniques and technologies as they have been formulated by institutions which convey cultural knowledge (museums, film archives, schools, magazines, libraries, etc.) by examining their evolution from the advent of cinema to the digital age.
While this field of research inevitably contributes to refining a still-fragmentary technological history of cinema, the main goal of this temporal telescoping is not to make a simplistic connection between two periods profoundly influenced by the arrival of a major new technology (photochemical cinema and digital cinema). In fact, while it is a given in research into early cinema that it is necessary to incorporate an understanding of digital media, it should not be conceived as an autonomous object but rather as a manifold object, at the intersection of several cultural series, technologies and institutions. The archaeology of media does not conceive history in binary or genealogical terms, but seeks to create new continuities by digging into often neglected sources. This field of research is thus not interested in the strictly “material” dimension of technology, but rather in this epistemological dimension, and will seek out in various forms of discourse certain recurring motifs which make it possible to account for the role of technology in the way cinema is conceived and taught and the way its history is written.
The technical question, although it was central to the earliest writers on cinema, declined in interest during cinema’s institutionalisation process, to the point of yielding to other issues such as the films themselves, their authors and film movements. Limited to the milieux of collectors and practitioners (filmmakers, editors, directors of photography, teachers, etc.), technical concerns appeared to have disappeared from scholarly discourses on cinema. It was not until the arrival of the digital that technology reappeared with force in discourses on cinema. Indeed in the wake of the digital, cameras, projectors, dissemination media, special effects and other objects have once again become worthy of investigation. What accounts for this resurgence? Can it be that technology is the epistemological category which best embodies the idea of innovation and that, in this respect, it makes it possible to give form more easily to the fears and aspirations which accompany every major change? With reference to the model of the double birth of media, do these discourses on technology play a necessary role in the new medium’s passage from its period of integration to that of its institutional autonomy? What was in the earliest discourses on the impact of cinema technologies on the formation of a disciplinary approach and on the teaching practices of this approach? In this sense, the Chair will explore discourses commenting on the impact of technology on already established cultural practices, as well as those discourses, in an apprehensive or utopian vein, which foretell their future impact.
This field of research seeks to lift the veil on the thorny question of cinema’s identity, at a time when the distinction between media is increasingly fading away. Will cinema preserve a degree of specificity even if it is increasingly invested by other media and for other ends than those for which it was known in the classical cinema era? Is the “growing digitalising of cinema” the main factor accounting for today’s upheavals? These theoretical questions require us to examine the changing role of movie theatres and the impact of new modes of distribution and dissemination associated with digital platforms, in order to juxtapose them with cinema’s so-called “classical” practices.
This investigation will focus on the most recent developments in the medium, principally with respect to the “non-film” – screenings of cultural and sporting events which take place in movie theatres – and to “non-cinema” – transmissions of films on personal digital platforms. These two categories exemplify perfectly the permeability and mobility of media content in the digital age and are at the heart of the current identity crisis. Two specific examples in particular drive this research. First, that of filmed operas – such as live broadcasts on movie screens by the New York Metropolitan Opera, an original re-appropriation of the traditional movie theatre. One of the earliest non-filmic cultural manifestations to elbow their way into multiplex cinemas, filmed operas radically altered the “base apparatus” of the movie theatre and the classical spectatorial posture. In addition, these events benefited from a significant promotional effort and extensive press coverage, facilitating their close study. Second, “mobiloscopy”, meaning viewing audiovisual content on small, portables devices, is for its part at the heart of thinking about “non-cinema”. At issue here, among other things, is the study of the consumption of films compared to the consumption of the other content offered by video streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) and evaluating how this affects our understanding of cinema as a specific medium.
This research will benefit from a number of infrastructures (online database and Encyclopaedia of Cinema Techniques and Technologies) being developed as part of the international partnership for research into cinema techniques and technologies, TECHNÈS (2015–2022). In this way we will continue to carry out the scholarly observation put in place while writing The End of Cinema? in order to identify in daily newspapers and the specialised press the latest forms of this new film genre. This time, however, our attention will be focused more on the two abovementioned topics, filmed operas and mobiloscopy. In addition to the texts identified in this way and indexed in our database, we will collect the personal stories of various professionals working in the field of disseminating digital content. The goal of these interviews is to enhance the Encyclopaedia of Cinema Techniques and Technologies with commentary coming directly from the media industry, thereby providing essential material to the secondary sources consulted.
This field of research is the logical extension of the research into cinema’s epistemology and identity, because it examines a concrete example which highlights certain key issues in the history of cinema’s technology and identity. The choice of editing is not fortuitous: it has been a research topic of major interest throughout André Gaudreault’s career. It is also a crucial concept in the way we conceive of cinema’s specificity. This field of research seeks to gauge the impact of technology on the ways in which films are segmented, fragmented and assembled, but also, by extension, to describe the connection between technology and film aesthetics and narrative structure.
Once again, a connection between early cinema and digital cinema will be attempted in order to lay the theoretical foundations of a new model for thinking about editing, one rooted in a pan-historical approach. The Chair seeks to evaluate, on the one hand, how technological advances encouraged the development of narrative editing in the first decade of the twentieth century and, on the other, the blaze of institutional editing practices in the first decade of the twenty-first century – but also to interrogate, conversely, the way in which artistic and industrial contingencies encouraged technological development. In fact technological innovation and artistic innovation are part of a process of mutual exchanges and adaptations. This is why we will examine both the technologies themselves and the technical, professional and popular discourses surrounding them in such a way as to highlight this specific dynamic.
For many years the work of André Gaudreault has contributed to clarifying the history of editing, but never from the perspective of technology. Today’s resurgence of technology as a topic of study, however, prompts a revisiting of this history by paying closer attention to the many technologies which are related or peripheral to editing. To what extent do cinema’s new apparatuses truly affect editing practices, and do they meet the needs formulated by practitioners? Similar questions arise with respect to the arrival of non-linear editing. First, in order to confirm various widespread assertions which have never been examined closely from a historical perspective, such as those which advance that narrative causality is eroding or that there is a resurgence of “attractional” techniques typical of early cinema (loops, appearance-substitution, long takes) in films edited in a non-linear manner. Second, juxtaposing the past and present will make it possible to flesh out and lend weight to the conceptual model towards which, moreover, all of the Chair’s work is directed. The entire originality of this model, in fact, resides in the connections it will make it possible to establish between the past and present history of editing.
Publication of the 3rd edition of the book Le récit cinématographique
André Gaudreault and François Jost, Armand Colin, 2017
For this new edition, film references have been updated, the study of narrative has been extended to television series and analyses of sequences from films and television series have been added to illustrate the use to which the book’s concepts can be put.
The End of Cinema? A Medium in Crisis in the Digital Age
André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion
(translated by Timothy Barnard), Columbia University Press, 2015
Is a film watched on a video screen still cinema? Have digital compositing, motion capture, and other advanced technologies remade or obliterated the craft? Rooted in their hypothesis of the “double birth of media,” André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion take a positive look at cinema’s ongoing digital revolution and reaffirm its central place in a rapidly expanding media landscape.
La fin du cinéma? Un média en crise à l’ère du numérique
André Gaudreault and Philippe Marion, Armand Colin, 2013
The End of Cinema? A Medium in Crisis in the Digital Age
André Gaudreault, Philippe Marion, Columbia University Press, 2015, translated by Timothy Barnard
Submerged by the breaking digital wave that is radically confusing media boundaries (cinema, television, graphic novels, the Internet, smart phones, etc.), cinema, it is said, is dying: the warmth of photochemical film has given way to cold pixels while satellite transmissions of non-film entertainment have begun to overrun movie theatres. And yet cinema is everywhere, on new devices and new screens. Nevertheless, we might ask ourselves whether a film on DVD, shown on a video screen, is still cinema, or whether the encoded images of digital compositing and motion capture are also still cinema.
Basing themselves on their hypothesis of the “double birth of media,” the authors of The End of Cinema? examine the convulsions cinema’s identity is going through today and offer keys to understanding the impact of digital technology on today’s media galaxy. Are we witnessing cinema’s third birth?
Film and Attraction : From Kinematography to Cinema
André Gaudreault (Translated by Timothy Barnard), University of Illinois Press, 2011
Establishing a new vision for film history, Film and Attraction: From Kinematography to Cinema urges readers to consider the importance of complex social and cultural forces in early film. André Gaudreault argues that Edison and the Lumières did not invent cinema; they invented a device. Explaining how this device, the kinematograph, gave rise to cinema is the challenge he sets for himself in this volume. He highlights the forgotten role of the film lecturer and examines film’s relationship with other visual spectacles in fin-de-siècle culture, from magic sketches to fairy plays and photography to vaudeville.
Cinéma et attraction. Pour une nouvelle histoire du cinématographe
André Gaudreault, CNRS Éditions, 2008
To return to the threshold of cinema: that is the challenge of this volume. Going beyond traditional film histories, André Gaudreault demonstrates that in 1895 the Lumière brothers invented a device which made it possible to project animated pictures, the Cinématographe, but in no way invented cinema. Cinema was not “invented” and there was no patent to file; rather, it was instituted gradually and collectively. André Gaudreault offers us a new approach in this well-documented book. He brings back to life a hidden world, with its bonimenteur, or film lecturer, the accomplice of the “vile exhibitor” or manager of the film projection venue. He reveals to us the bonimenteur’s sources of inspiration, from theatre to the circus and photography. The work of Méliès is studied here in all its abundance and at every stage of its creation, particularly in his studio. A new look at cinema, an indispensable study followed by a critical edition of the famous text “Kinematographic Views” by Georges Méliès (1907).
From Plato to Lumière : Narration and Monstration in Literature and Cinema
André Gaudreault (Translated by Timothy Barnard), University of Toronto Press, 2009
Building a theory of narrative on sources as diverse as Plato, The Arabian Nights,and Proust, From Plato to Lumière challenges narratological orthodoxy by positing that all forms of narrative are mediated by an “underlying narrator” who exists between the author and narrative text. In this work, Gaudreault examines the practices of novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers and applies his theory to the early cinema of the Lumière brothers and more recent films. He also enhances our understanding of how narrative develops visually without language – monstration – by detailing how the evolution of the medium influenced narratives in cinema.
Du littéraire au filmique. Système du récit
André Gaudreault, Armand Colin, 1999
There are a thousand and one ways to tell a story. One kind of story is told by a textual agent, the narrator, while another appears on the contrary to have been distilled by the very same person who composed it, the author. Going against narratological orthodoxy in the matter, the narrative system on which this volume is based posits that whatever the case at hand there is an intermediary agent, the mega-narrator, located between the author and his or her narrative text. This mega-narrator is fundamentally responsible for narrative communication. The narrative practices of novelists, playwrights and filmmakers are examined from the perspective of a “narratology of expression” in order to cast new light on the most important narrative principles. A re-reading of Plato’s Republic and a re-examination of certain now classical narratological “cases” (from The Arabian Nights to Proust’s In Search of Lost Time) make it possible to define the two fundamental modes of narrative communication: narration and monstration. Using these concepts, the book lays the groundwork for a narratological theory of cinema, applied in the first instance to early cinema.
« Les vues cinématographiques selon Segundo de Chomón ou Propositions pour une approche différente, différenciée et différentielle du “mage espagnol”», dans Réjane Hamus-Vallée, Jacques Malthête et Stéphanie Salmon (dir.), Les mille et un visages de Segundo de Chomón : truqueur, coloriste, cinématographiste… et pionnier du cinématographe, Villeneuve d’Ascq/Paris, Presses universitaires du Septentrion/Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, 2019 (article issu d’une communication présentée au colloque consacré à Segundo de Chomón qui s’est tenu à Paris en 2017).
« Résilience du mot “cinéma” et persistance du média», Anais do V Simpósio Internacional de Inovação em Mídias Interativas, 2019, (version très largement augmentée d’une communication intitulée « La résilience du “cinéma” » transmise par vidéoconférence le 11 mai 2018 au 5e Symposium international sur l’innovation dans les médias interactifs (SIIMI), organisé par le Media Lab de l’Universidade Federal de Goiás, à Goiânia, au Brésil). En anglais « The Resilience of the Word “Cinema” and the Persistence of the Media », dans Richard Grusin et Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece (dir.), Ends of Cinema, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, à paraître en 2020. PDF
« The Sublime Spittle of the Opera Singer» (avec Philippe Marion), dans Rossella Catanese, Francesca Scotto Lavina et Valentina Valente (dir.), From Sensation to Synaesthesia in Film and New Media, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019, p. 58–71 (article issu d’une communication intitulée « La sublime bave du chanteur d’opéra… », présentée en 2014 dans le cadre de l’International Film Studies Spring School, à Gorizia, en Italie).
« The Double Birth Model Tested against Photography» (avec Philippe Marion), dans Simone Natale et Nicoletta Leonardi (dir.), Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century, University Park, Penn State University Press, 2018, p. 191–204. « Le modèle de la double naissance à l’épreuve de la photographie », article inédit en français, qui reprend dans une nouvelle perspective certains éléments du chapitre 5 de La fin du cinéma? (2013).
« W. Griffith et l’émergence du montage alterné » (avec Philippe Gauthier), Canadian Journal of Film Studies/Revue canadienne d’études cinématographiques,vol. 26, no 2, automne 2017, p. 1–30. En anglais « D. W. Griffith and the Emergence of Crosscutting », dans Charlie Keil (dir.), A Companion to D. W. Griffith, Hoboken, John Wiley & Sons, 2018, p. 107–136.
« La stochastique des cristaux d’halogénure d’argent : l’histoire mouvementée des procédés cinématographiques de restitution du mouvement » (avec Solène Secq de Campos Velho), Revue d’histoire du cinéma, no 82, 2017, p. 35–52 (article issu d’une communication intitulée « Les images mouvantes ou l’“animage”, du tableau mouvementé aux images en mouvement » présentée à Lausanne, en 2014, au colloque international Le mouvement du cinéma. Théories et pratiques : histoire et historiographie).
« La punaise, le châssis et le pivot! L’“arrangement matériel” du film selon Pathé», dans Jacques Malthête et Stéphanie Salmon (dir.), Recherches et innovations dans l’industrie du cinéma. Les cahiers des ingénieurs Pathé (1906–1927), Paris, Éditions de la Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, 2017, p. 75–94 (article issu d’une conférence intitulée « Pratiques du montage chez Pathé entre 1906 et 1930 : organisation du travail et “composition” des films », donnée dans le cadre des journées d’étude Les cahiers de recherche Pathé (1904–1930), à Paris en 2015). En anglais « The Tack, the Frame and the Spindle! The “Material Arrangement” of the Film at Pathé », dans Diego Cavallotti, Simone Dotto et Leonardo Quaresima (dir.), A History of Cinema without Names/2. Contexts and Practical Applications, Milan, Mimesis International, 2017, p. 101–113.
« T’interpeller d’entrée de jeu par ton patronyme», dans Ruggero Eugeni et Mariagrazia Fanchi (dir.), La galassia Casetti. Lettere di amicizia, stima, provocazione, Milan, Vita e Piensero, 2017, p. 123–126.
« Le cinématographe Lumière : invention du cinéma ou naissance d’un mythe? », dans Jean-Noël Jeanneney et Jeanne Guérout (dir.), L’histoire de France vue d’ailleurs, Paris, Éditions des Arènes, 2016, p. 384–395.
« Les sources inédites de la notion de “plan” en cinématographie : un coup du (de?) théâtre!», dans Vincent Amiel, Gilles Mouëllic et José Moure (dir.), Le découpage au cinéma, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2016, p. 41–62 (article issu d’une communication présentée en 2013 au colloque de Cerisy Le découpage au cinéma, enjeux théoriques et poétiques).
« Défense et illustration de la notion de série culturelle» (avec Philippe Marion), dans Diego Cavallotti, Federico Giordano et Leonardo Quaresima (dir.), A History of Cinema without Names: A Research Project, Milan, Mimesis International, 2016, p. 59–71 (article issu d’une communication présentée au 22e colloque international Film Forum, à Udine, en 2015). En anglais « Defence and Illustration of the Concept “Cultural Series” », dans Charlie Keil et Robert King (dir.), The Oxford Handbook of Silent Cinema, Oxford, Oxford University Press, à paraître en 2020.
« Le spectateur de cinéma. Une espèce en pleine mutation face à un média en perte de repères», dans Jean Châteauvert et Gilles Delavaud (dir.), D’un écran à l’autre, les mutations du spectateur, Paris/Bry-sur-Marne, L’Harmattan/INA Éditions, 2016, p. 321–330. En anglais « The Cinema Spectator: A Rapidly-Mutating Species Viewing a Medium That Is Losing Its Bearings », dans Alberto Beltrame, Giuseppe Fidotta et Andrea Mariani (dir.), At the Borders of (Film) History, Udine, Forum, 2015, p. 191–197.
« De la filmologie à la sémiologie : figures de l’alternance au cinéma» (avec Philippe Gauthier), Cinémas, vol. 25, nos 2–3, printemps 2015, p. 159–173, et « Christian Metz, le montage et les formes de l’alternance » (avec Philippe Gauthier), Cinémas, vol. 26, no 1, automne 2015, p. 95–108 (article en deux parties issu d’une communication présentée en 2013 à Zurich au colloque Le paradigme sémiologique et la pensée « cinématographique » de Christian Metz). En anglais « Christian Metz, Editing, and Forms of Alternation », dans Margrit Tröhler et Guido Kirsten (dir.), Christian Metz and the Codes of Cinema: Film Semiology and Beyond, Amsterdam, Amsterdam University Press, 2018, p. 201–226.
Complete list here.
As part of its program of major lectures, the Canada Research Chair in Film and Media Studies (2015–2022) regularly organises encounters with some of the top specialists in the field.
You can view filmed recordings of the following major lectures:
La Neurognosis. Unir les arts et les sciences par la connaissance du cerveau, Vladimir Hachinski (Western University), 2 mai 2019, Université de Montréal.
Interaction, Algorithmic Assembly, Embodied Montage: Organizing Sequence and Time in New Media Settings, William Urrichio (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), 4 mai 2017, Cinémathèque québécoise.
Winsor McCay Performs Gertie (1914) : Liveness and Animation, Donald Crafton (University of Notre Dame), 28 septembre 2016, Université de Montréal.
Instances cinéphobiques dans la culture cinématographique des premiers temps, Francesco Casetti (Yale University), 28 septembre 2016, Université de Montréal.
Here you will find past news from the Canada Research Chair in Film and Media Studies.
31 octobre 2017 : André Gaudreault, lauréat du prix Léon-Gérin 2017
4 mai 2017 : Colloque : où (en) est le cinéma ?
24 avril 2017 : L’invention littéraire des médias
25 novembre 2016: Colloque international : voyage au centre de la machine cinéma
17 octobre 2016: Nouveau laboratoire de recherche : CinéMédias