Un projet Labex Arts-H2H
en /fr
Les Arts trompeurs
Machines, Magie, Médias

Mireille Berton : "magisme" et imaginaire spirite
The ‘magism’ of cinema and imaginary spiritism in France at the beginning of the twentieth century

Pièces jointes

Nous vous signalons la publication d'un article, en anglais, de Mireille Berton, « The ‘magism’ of cinema and imaginary spiritism in France at the beginning of the twentieth century », dans le dernier numéro de la revue Early Popular Visual Culture, consacré aux trucs et effets. Cet article reprend son intervention au colloque "La Magie des effets spéciaux", dirigé par André Gaudreault, Martin Lefebvre et Viva Paci en novembre 2013.



This article examines how cinema was considered a magic tool by French imaginary spiritism, thus influencing views on ‘new’ technologies around 1900. In fact many contemporaries considered the magic of cinema in terms of infinite technical potential, evocative power and affinities with the world of the invisible and mental life. While several scholars have analyzed the idea of the cinema as a ‘haunted machine’, less has been said about the historical relationships between cinema and spiritism – an area allowing us to study the reciprocal exchanges that go beyond their apparent incompatibilities. With the support of primary sources describing the spirit medium as a machine that projects images (and sometimes sounds) onto a mind screen, as well as texts that consider the spectator as a sort of telepath endowed with great sensitivity, it is possible to observe how the spiritualistic séance affected the codification of cinema as a cultural practice. But while spectrality appears as a framework through which the specificity of the experience of cinema is understood, spiritism in turn reveals a stage and an imaginary full of technology that are indicative of epistemological functions assigned to audiovisual devices. Exchanges between spiritism, magic and cinema should thus be considered as a continuous flow of concepts and ideas at a time when popular and scientific imagination was as fascinated by modern technology as by the ‘archaic’ world of occultism.


Vous pouvez télécharger l'article en pièce jointe (au format .pdf) ou bien ici.

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Un projet Labex Arts-H2H