After deciding it made sense to screen our films digitally as it expanded the variety of films we could show, we started to think about how we can still create a space that feels de-digitalised despite the presence of digital technology.
As film and TV theorist Francesco Casetti states in his essay ‘The Relocation of Cinema,’ filmmakers who project on film are “pay[ing] homage to a dying medium” which is a concept we are interested in exploring despite the fact we are projecting digitally (2016). Although the event is not a traditional cinema screening due to the meditation aspect, we are still looking to recreate the classic cinema space to show how it can be a meditative environment. To do this we are considering the use of audio from a film projector that will run as the audience arrives and throughout the 10- and 5-minute meditations at the beginning and end of the screening. By doing this we hope to show how modern digital technology can still be cinematic and redolent of a kind of digital detox as the audience is still disconnected from their primary digital device. Casetti writes that “the machine is not valued for what it is, but for what it can do and for what it makes the spectator do,” in our case we want the spectators of our event to switch off from the personal technological devices and focus on the big screen which is a communal place (2016).
The dialogue we have had regarding film vs digital is one that is prevalent today. Film purists such as Christopher Nolan would argue that digital projection reduces films to “content” that is accessible on phones and other screens outside of the cinema environment. Nolans says that “the idea would be that movie theatres should acknowledge their place as just another one of these platforms, albeit with bigger screens and cupholders” (Yamato, 2014). We argue that this does not have to be the case, that in the current zeitgeist the cinema space, whether it be digital projection or film, is a place where people can shut off from the external world and exist in a bubble with others for a couple of hours.
You could compare our ethos around digital technology to the ARRI Alexa camera range, a favourite of world-renowned cinematographer Roger Deakins. Deakins values the classic look and feel of the visuals that the Alexa captures and appreciates the fluidity of working with digital rather than with film. This encapsulates how we feel about the process of projecting on film. We feel it would limit the films we can show as well as create extra pressure on the day of the event which can be avoided by creating a filmic atmosphere with digital technology.
Casetti, F., 2016. The Relocation of Cinema. In Shane Denson & Julia Leyda (eds.). Post Cinema: Theorising 21st Century Film”. Sussex: Falmer- Reframe Books.
Yamato, J., 2014. Film Purist Chris Nolan Predicts Hope For The “Bleak” Digital Future. [online] Deadline. Available at: <https://deadline.com/2014/07/christopher-nolan-interstellar-film-digital-op-ed-800958/> [Accessed 2 November 2021].