This question of series-centrism is readily apparent and tangible in the relations between the kinematograph and early twentieth-century trade journals. See in particular André Gaudreault, “The Culture Broth and the Froth of Cultures of So-called Early Cinema,” in A Companion to Early Cinema, ed. Nicolas Dulac, André Gaudreault, and Santiago Hidalgo (2012), 18–20.
The titles of the journals themselves in which one finds mention of the new device tell us all we need to know, in a sense, about the relation between the kinematograph and the major cultural series which gradually took hold of it and in the end appropriated it. It is not until the early years of the institutionalization of cinema that we see the creation of trade journals devoted to kinematography alone:
- in 1907, Moving Picture World is created in the United States;
- in 1907, Bioscope is created in England;
- in 1908, Ciné-Journal is created in France.
In previous years, the kinematograph found refuge in trade journals devoted to cultural series unconnected to kinematography, such as The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger or L’Industriel forain. One day it will be necessary to write a detailed history of the evolution of the titles of these journals from the perspective of series-centrism and its decline and the rise of institutionalization. Note how changes to the name of the British lanternists’ journal show us the results of the “battle” between two cultural series, the aging magic lantern and the young and dashing kinematograph:
1889: The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger
1904: The Optical Lantern and Cinematograph Journal
1906: The Optical Lantern and Kinematograph Journal
1907: Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly
1919: Kinematograph Weekly
Figure 1 – Masthead of an issue of The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger (1889-1904).
Figure 2 – Masthead of an issue of The Optical Lantern and Kinematograph Journal (1906-1907).
Figure 3 – Masthead of an issue of The Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly (1907-1919). Cinémathèque québécoise collection.
Figure 4 – Masthead of an issue of The Kinematograph Weekly (which began to be published in 1919). Cinémathèque québécoise collection.
Note the absence, in 1889, of any reference in the title of the journal to kinematography or animated pictures (this is not surprising, given the date of the journal’s founding), and then the introduction of kinematography in 1904, in second place (The Optical Lantern and Cinematograph Journal), followed in 1907 by the reversal of cinema and the magic lantern (Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly), putting cinema in the initial position until the “triumph of kinematography” – a reference to the article by Riciotto Canudo, “Lettere d’arte: Trionfo del cinematografo,” Il Nuove giornale, Florence, 25 November 1908 – as seen in 1919 with the magic lantern’s expulsion, pure and simple, its complete eradication from the title of the journal!
What a strange and sombre destiny the magic lantern had. As the title of the journal was transformed, it went from being seen initially, in 1889, “optical” and “magical” at one and the same time; stripped of its magic in 1904, it continued to play an increasingly unobtrusive role before becoming no more than a mere lantern in 1907 and disappearing completely in 1919.
Is the magic lantern we speak of here the very same lantern about which Child Bayley said that it had been the very nest in which the kinematograph had been invented? Yes, the same one. But it lost its lustre and in just a few years saw a decline which some would interpret as a death and others as a degeneration that relegated it to the status of “residual medium” (see Charles R. Acland, “Introduction: Residual Media,” in Charles R. Acland, ed., Residual Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), pp. xii-xxviii).