Database cinema

One of the principal features defining traditional cinema is a fixed and linear narrative structure.[1] In Database Cinema however, the story develops by selecting scenes from a given collection. Think of a computer game in which a player performs certain acts and thereby selects scenes and creating a narrative.

New Media objects lack this strong narrative component, they don’t have a beginning or an end but can start or stop at any point. They are collections of discrete items coming from the database. Lev Manovich first related the database to cinema [2] in his effort to understand the changing technologies of filmmaking techniques in media landscapes. According to Manovich, cinema privileged narrative as the key form of cultural expression of modern age but the computer age introduced its correlate, the database: "As a cultural form, database represents the world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events). Therefore, database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world."

Database artists

Manovich considers filmmakers Peter Greenaway and Dziga Vertov as pioneers in his database cinema genre. He explains how Greenaway sees the linear pursuit as standard format of filmmaking lagging behind modern literature in experimenting with narrative. Greenaway’s system for reconciling database and narrative uses sequences of numbers. They act as a narrative shell, which makes the viewer believe he is watching a story.

Dziga Vertov can be seen as an even earlier database filmmaker. Manovich cites Vertovs Man with a Movie Camera (USSR, 1929) as the most important example of database imagination in modern media art. The film has three levels: Cameraman filming the shots, audience watching the finished film and shots from street life in Ukrainian cities edited in chronological order of that particular day. While the last level can be seen as text or ‘the story’, the other two can be seen as meta-texts. By the use of meaningful effects, discovering the world by this ‘kino-eye’ Vertov uses the normally static and objective database as a dynamic and subjective form.

Manovich stated that new media artists working on database concepts could learn from cinema precisely because cinema has in fact always been at the nexus of database and narrative while the movie was still in the editing room. Manovich points out especially Vertov achieved a successful merging between database and narrative into a new form .


The semiological theory of syntagm and paradigm (originally formulated by Ferdinand de Saussure and later worked on by Roland Barthes) helps to define the relationship between the database-narrative opposition. In this theory the syntagm is a linear stringing together of elements while at the paradigmatic each new element is chosen from a set of other related elements. In this case, the elements in syntagm dimensions are related in praesentia: it is the flow of words we hear, or the shots we see. On a paradigmatic dimension the elements are related in absentia: they exist in our minds or stuffed away in a database. To quote Manovich: “the database of choices from which narrative is constructed (the paradigm) is implicit; while the actual narrative (the syntagm) is explicit”. In New Media projects, this is reversed according to Manovich. The paradigmatic database is tangible, while the syntagmatic narrative is virtual.

Soft Cinema

Lev Manovich defines soft cinema as the creative possibilities at the intersection of software culture, cinema, and architecture. Its manifestations include films, dynamic visualizations, computer-driven installations, architectural designs, print catalogs, and DVDs. In parallel, the project investigates how the new representational techniques of soft(ware) cinema can be deployed to address the new dimensions of our time, such as the rise of mega-cities, the "new" Europe, and the effects of information technologies on subjectivity.


Manovich calls on 4 different criteria to define Soft Cinema in his research:[3]

1. Following the standard convention of the human-computer interface, the display area is always divided into multiple frames.

2. Using a set of rules defined by the authors, the Soft Cinema software controls both the layout of the screen (number and position of frames) and the sequences of media elements that appear in these frames.

3. The media elements (video clips, sound, still images, text, etc.) are selected from a large database to construct a potentially unlimited number of different films.

4. In Soft Cinema ‘films’ video is used as only one type of representation among others: motion graphics, 3D animations, diagrams, etc.

Works of Soft Cinema


The original piece was created for the 2002 "Soft Cinema installation", for an exhibition titled 'Future Cinema: Cinematic Imaginary after Film.'

Texas looks at the 'Modern experience of living between layers', that is, how time has created different 'layers' of space throughout the world we live in. The film calls on a number of databases, each structured in the same fashion. The database containing video footage (as opposed to music) holds 425 clips selected from footage that Manovich himself shot at various locations over several years. Manovich aims to capture the idea of a "Global City" throughout these shots. Each video clip in the database holds 10 parameters, including location, subject matter, average brightness, contrast, the type of space, the type of camera motion, and several more. The software uses these parameters in selecting each clip, finding clips that are all similar in some fashion to the next.

Mission to Earth

The original piece was commissioned in 2003 by the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK.

Mission to Earth symbolizes the experiences of a modern immigrant as well as the experiences of those during the Cold War. It attempts to show the trauma associated with a shift in identity as one changes their life. The Soft Cinema software uses several frames at once in this piece, displaying different things in each frame to portray the split in identity that the main character, Inga, experiences. The software also changes the size and number of windows as it grabs the content from the database. Most of the video used for the database was shot in London, Berlin, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Sweden.


The Absences piece was created without a pre-set narrative. It takes advantage of the assumption that, given different sets of images and footage, the viewer will connect what is seen and create their own structured narrative. The theme surrounds the aspect of natural and urban surroundings. Like previous works, the images shown each hold unique parameters which the soft-cinema software chooses from when viewed by the user. These parameters include brightness, contrast, texture, activity, frequency, and several others.

References/further reading

  1. ^ "Non-Linear Narratives: The Ultimate in Time Travel". Archived from the original on 2009-08-20. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
  2. ^ Database as a symbolic form (Cambridge. MIT Press, 1998)
  3. ^ "Manovich's Booklet Reader" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-11. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
Acid Western

Acid Western is a subgenre of the Western film that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s that combines the metaphorical ambitions of critically acclaimed Westerns, such as Shane and The Searchers, with the excesses of the Spaghetti Westerns and the outlook of the counterculture of the 1960s. Acid Westerns subvert many of the conventions of earlier Westerns to "conjure up a crazed version of autodestructive white America at its most solipsistic, hankering after its own lost origins".

Bradford Dillman

Bradford Dillman (April 14, 1930 – January 16, 2018) was an American actor and author.

Cuba Gooding Jr.

Cuba Michael Gooding Jr. (born January 2, 1968) is an American actor. After his breakthrough role as Tre Styles in Boyz n the Hood (1991), he appeared in A Few Good Men (1992), The Tuskegee Airmen (1995), Outbreak (1995), and Jerry Maguire (1996), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He gained later attention for his roles in Men of Honor (2000) as Carl Brashear, and in Michael Bay's World War II epic Pearl Harbor (2001) as Doris Miller. His other notable films include As Good as It Gets (1997), the ensemble farce Rat Race (2001), American Gangster (2007), Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013), and Selma (2014), playing civil rights attorney Fred Gray. In 2016, he portrayed O.J. Simpson in the FX drama series The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and co-starred in the sixth season of the FX anthology series American Horror Story, subtitled Roanoke.

Dziga Vertov

Dziga Vertov (Russian: Дзига Вертов, born David Abelevich Kaufman, Russian: Дави́д А́белевич Ка́уфман, and also known as Denis Kaufman; 2 January 1896 – 12 February 1954) was a Russian Soviet pioneer documentary film and newsreel director, as well as a cinema theorist. His filming practices and theories influenced the cinéma vérité style of documentary movie-making and the Dziga Vertov Group, a radical film-making cooperative which was active from 1968 to 1972.

In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll, critics voted Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929) the 8th best film ever made.Vertov's younger brothers Boris Kaufman and Mikhail Kaufman were also noted filmmakers, as was his wife, Yelizaveta Svilova.

Gramercy Theatre

The Gramercy Theatre is a music venue in New York City. It is located in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan, on 127 East 23rd Street. Originally built in 1937 as the Gramercy Park Theatre, it is now owned and operated by Live Nation as one of their two concert halls in New York City, the other being the nearby Irving Plaza.

Jean-Claude Dague

Jean-Claude Dague, born Jean-Claude Dagouassat in 1937, is a French film director.

Lev Manovich

Lev Manovich is an author of books on new media theory, professor of Computer Science at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, U.S. and visiting professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Manovich's research and teaching focuses on digital humanities, social computing, new media art and theory, and software studies.One of his works, The Language of New Media, was translated into thirteen languages. Manovich's latest academic book Software Takes Command was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury, and the earlier draft version was released under a Creative Commons license.His research lab Cultural Analytics Lab (called Software Studies Initiative 2007-2016) was described in an associated press release as the first attempt at computational analysis of massive collections of images and video (cultural analytics). His lab was commissioned to create visualizations of cultural datasets for Google, New York Public Library, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

List of apocalyptic films

This is a list of apocalyptic feature-length films. All films within this list feature either the end of the world, a prelude to such an end (such as a world taken over by a viral infection), and/or a post-apocalyptic setting.

Meat pie Western

Meat pie Western, also known as Australian Western or kangaroo Western, is a broad genre of Western-style films or TV series set in the Australian outback or "the bush". Films about bushrangers (sometimes called bushranger films) are included in this genre. Some films categorised as meat-pie or Australian Westerns also fulfil the criteria for other genres, such as drama, revisionist Western, crime or thriller.

The term "meat pie Western" is a play on the term Spaghetti Western, used for Italian-made Westerns, relating in both cases to foods are regarded as national dishes.

New York Hippodrome

The Hippodrome Theatre also called the New York Hippodrome, was a theater in New York City from 1905 to 1939, located on Sixth Avenue between West 43rd and West 44th Streets in the Theater District of Midtown Manhattan. It was called the world's largest theatre by its builders and had a seating capacity of 5,300, with a 100x200ft (30x61m) stage. The theatre had state-of-the-art theatrical technology, including a rising glass water tank.

The Hippodrome was built by Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy, creators of the Luna Park amusement park at Coney Island, with the backing of Harry S. Black's U.S. Realty, a dominant real estate and construction company of the time, and was acquired by The Shubert Organization in 1909. In 1933, it was re-opened as the New York Hippodrome cinema, and became the stage for Billy Rose's Jumbo in 1935. Acts which appeared at the Hippodrome included numerous circuses, musical revues, Harry Houdini's disappearing elephant, vaudeville, silent movies such as Neptune's Daughter (1914) and Better Times (1922) and 1930s cinema.The theatre closed in August 1939 for demolition, and in 1952 a large modern office building known as "The Hippodrome Center" (1120 Avenue of the Americas), opened on the site.

No More Ladies

No More Ladies is a 1935 American romantic comedy film directed by Edward H. Griffith. The film stars Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery, and co-stars Charlie Ruggles, Franchot Tone, and Edna May Oliver. The screenplay credited to Donald Ogden Stewart and Horace Jackson is based on a stage comedy of the same name by A.E. Thomas.

Opera film

An opera film is a recording of an opera on film.

Otto Preminger

Otto Ludwig Preminger (, German pronunciation: [ˈpreːmiŋɐ]; 5 December 1905 – 23 April 1986) was an American theatre and film director, originally from Austria-Hungary.

He directed more than 35 feature films in a five-decade career after leaving the theatre. He first gained attention for film noir mysteries such as Laura (1944) and Fallen Angel (1945), while in the 1950s and 1960s, he directed a number of high-profile adaptations of popular novels and stage works. Several of these later films pushed the boundaries of censorship by dealing with topics which were then taboo in Hollywood, such as drug addiction (The Man with the Golden Arm, 1955), rape (Anatomy of a Murder, 1959) and homosexuality (Advise & Consent, 1962). He was twice nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. He also had a few acting roles.

Philip Pocock

Philip Pocock is a Canadian artist, photographer and researcher. He was born in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1954. Since the early 1990s, his work has been collaborative, situational, time-, code-, net-based and participatory.

In photography, in the 1980s, Philip Pocock produced two bodies of photographic works: lyrical documentary explorations in New York and Berlin; as well as alchemical Cibachrome photographs. In 1980, "The Obvious Illusion: Murals from the Lower East Side", a monograph of his color photographs, was published by George Braziller to accompany public exhibitions of his Cibachrome photographs at the Cooper Union, in New York, in 1980, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, in 1981.In New York City, in 1988, collaborating with the painter, John Zinsser, Philip Pocock co-founded, co-published, co-edited, and designed on an Apple Macintosh Plus and Laserwriter, the early low-cost, interview-based, desktop-published Journal of Contemporary Art, announced in the New York Times 1988-01-22.Relocating to Europe, in 1990, Philip Pocock continued collaborative practice, painting and drawing with German artist Walter Dahn, song lyrics from American popular music sources, from the Blues to Indie, under the label Music Security Administration, in Cologne, from 1993 to 1995, before entering telecommunication space with FAX performance, database cinema and cybernetic installation from 1993 onward.In 1993, with Swiss photographer Felix Stephan Huber, Philip Pocock extended collaborative practice with digital cameras, laptops and a Fax modem, co-producing for the Venice Biannual's Electronic Café, a digital performance and facsimile book, Black Sea Diary.In 1995, Huber and Pocock created an art weblog, mixing regularly posted live journal, sound and video entries with emails from their users' forum on the web. Travel-art-art-as-information, a cyber-roadmovie, Arctic Circle investigates contemporary loneliness, taking the duo by van from Vancouver, British Columbia, over thousands of kilometers, to walk along the Arctic Circle in Canada's northern wilderness, simultaneously searching for any sign of life on the other side, the cyber-side, of their laptop screens. Driving, acting, uploading, what began as 1970s conceptual performance mutated into 1990s pulp melodrama when two hitchhikers, Nora and Nicolas, hopped on board, all becoming fictional characters playing in a digital documentary of their own making. Arctic Circle was produced for the traveling exhibition Fotographie nach der Fotographie, in 1995-97, included in documenta X, in 1997.Philip Pocock was invited by documenta X's director, Catherine David, in 1996, to produce an Internet cinema piece for the event in 1997. He presented the work in the context of the documenta X - 100 Days 100 Guests event. For [ A Description of the Equator and Some ØtherLands] Philip Pocock assembled longtime collaborator, Felix Stephan Huber, Udo Noll, and Florian Wenz, to produce an early online, user-generated, database-driven hypercinematic work, which introduced the term Tag (metadata), taking Pocock and Wenz first to Uganda, then Pocock and Noll to the Java Sea to traverse the Earth's equator, and with thousands of users pursue the potential one of corresponding identities in cyberspace. A Description of the Equator and Some ØtherLands was coded with open source software: php1.0 msql on a Redhat linux operating system. Philip Pocock did not visit the site of his collaboration at the documenta X in Kassel, until he participated as a guest speaker in its 100 Days 100 Guests programme, 1997-08-23.

In 1999, with another group of collaborators, notably the Italian architecture collective, Gruppo A12, net programmer Daniel Burckhardt, Brazilian artist Roberto Cabot, founder Wolfgang Staehle, as well as the Equator group, Philip Pocock produced H|u|m|b|o|t for the ZKM Center for Art and Media's net_condition exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany, initiated with support from the Goethe-Institut, Caracas, Venezuela. H|u|m|b|o|t is a movie-mapping, an atlas plotted to ubiquitous screens, transmitted from a database of text and video, mapped as a single screen-world, with the help of an intelligent, self-organizing mapping algorithm from the Finnish mathematician, Teuvo Kohonen. H|u|m|b|o|ts text source was Alexander von Humboldt's scientific travelogue, Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent 1799–1804, each paragraph of which was specifically identified according to its Global Positioning GPS meta-data, as well as annotated with emotion, keyword and location markers, using H|u|m|b|o|ts XML editor. This meta-data translates into a topography of Humboldt's historical narrative, tagged, visually and semantically connecting clusters of text to one shared screen (FLATBOOK), collated with contemporary videos from Venezuela and Cuba by H|u|m|b|o† authors (FLATMOVIE). Together, an atlas is composed through which users travel, each logged as possible itineraries for future users. H|u|m|b|o|t was installed in Hans Ulrich Obrist's Voilà: Le monde dans la tête exhibition at the Musée d-art moderne, Paris, 2000.In 2002, pre-YouTube, UNMOVIE, a future cinema, codes tagged, user-generated, flash video on-the-fly, the UNMOVIE Stream, mashed up from words generated by synthespian dialogue from the UNMOVIE Stage. Synthespians ([Chatterbots]) were coded from: the entire oeuvre of Bob Dylan, Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche, Sculpting in Time by Tarkovsky, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Drella, anecdotes by the 13th-century Zen master Dogen, male-female cybersex chat from Geisha, and visitors to the Stage, You_01 - 06. As the synthespians match words, some are sent to the database to cull user video to play on the 'Stage'. With info architect, Axel Heide, sculptor, Gregor Stehle, and designers, Onesandzeros, Philip Pocock produced UNMOVIE for the traveling Future Cinema: The Cinematic Imaginary After Film exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe. UNMOVIE opened in November 2001, and has been writing itself and playing 24-7 ever since. UNMOVIE has been installed at the Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland, and the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) gallery, Tokyo, Japan.

In 2006, Philip Pocock created SpacePlace: Art in the Age of Orbitization with Peter Weibel, ZKM, Axel Heide and Onesandzeros. As well as being an on-line, web2.0, Mashup (digital) and repository for Outer Space-related art and culture, the SpacePlace database generated a multimedia platform, SpacePlace mobile, as well as a dual-screen, free public access Bluetooth installation for specific locations, such as ZKMax, Munich, Germany, where urban guest were greeted by a cellphone message and projected video wobbling to the sound of outer space, opening June 7, 2006, in support of the [United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs] conference in Vienna to check and balance peaceful and cultural utilization of near Earth orbit. and beyond.

Philip Pocock produced and directed in collaboration with several art and design school students and grads, the ZKM Island YOUniverse in Second Life, with cyber-robotic avatars, avatar-sensing cinema structures, participatory and converging with a Moblog and mobile media sculpture presented at the YOU_ser: The Century of the Consumer exhibition curated by Peter Weibel at ZKM, Karlsruhe. User-generated images are emailed to Second Life mashup cinemas. ZKM Island in Second Life presents vitrine architecture in a globally warmed wasteland, each supermodern structure's components simultaneously screen, wall and window, sensitive to avatar movement and orientation. A Boxing Ring where avatars can get in the ring with six German cultural theorists and philosophy cyber-robotic avatars and punch it out while waxing philosophy, just for fun.Commissioned by the Seville Biannual (BIACS), Spain, in 2008, Philip Pocock collaboratively produced with Alex Wenger, Linus Stolz, Julian Finn, Daniel Burckhardt and other students Aland: Scopic Regimes of Uncertainty, three telescopic, participatory, multi-screen sculptures that converse incessantly and convivially. Alan∂, short for Al-Andalus, a rare moment of cultural conviviality on the Iberian Peninsula between the 8th and 15th centuries, begins with an artificially intelligent, incessant dialogue between Federico García Lorca, raised in Christian Andalusia (his 20th-century poetry), Moses Maimonides (his 11th-century book, A Guide for the Perplexed), and Muhammad Ibn Tufail (his 11th-century novel, Alive, Son of Awake) Jewish and Muslim Al-Andaluz contemporaries, driving database searches for images of Andalusia in the contemporary blogosphere, compiling them into rhythmic and subtitled video clips, which are surveilled by telescopes, the details captured, retrieving similar images from Andalusian cyberspace. In short, it is scopic media that are surveilled, and pictures looking at pictures, for pictures to display over sculpted arrays of recycled and DIY screens. Web-cams sculpturally integrated as well mix portraits of installation guests with a mashed up overabundance of Andalusia's scopic regime.

Pleasant Hill, California

Pleasant Hill is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States, in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. The population was 33,152 at the 2010 census. It was incorporated in 1961. Pleasant Hill is the home of College Park High School, Diablo Valley College, John F Kennedy University, the Pleasant Hill Library and administration offices for the Contra Costa County Library system, and the Pleasant Hill Recreation & Park District.

Romanian New Wave

The Romanian New Wave (Romanian: Noul val românesc) is a genre of realist and often minimalist films made in Romania since the mid-aughts, starting with two award-winning shorts by two Romanian directors, namely Cristi Puiu's Cigarettes and Coffee, which won the Short Film Golden Bear at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival, and Cătălin Mitulescu's Trafic, which won the Short Film Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival later that same year.

Silent film

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no audible dialogue). In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. The term "silent film" is a misnomer, as these films were almost always accompanied by live sounds. During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. Sometimes a person would even narrate the intertitle cards for the audience. Though at the time the technology to synchronize sound with the video did not exist, music was seen as an essential part of the viewing experience.

The term silent film is a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something. Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as the "talkies," "sound films," or "talking pictures." Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, music and sound effects.

Most early motion pictures are considered lost because the nitrate film used in that era was extremely unstable and flammable. Additionally, many films were deliberately destroyed because they had little value in the era before home video. It has often been claimed that around 75 percent of silent films have been lost, though these estimates may be inaccurate due to a lack of numerical data.

Sinners' Holiday

Sinners' Holiday is a 1930 all-talking Hollywood pre-Code crime drama film starring Grant Withers, Evalyn Knapp and featuring James Cagney (in his film debut), Lucille La Verne, and Joan Blondell. It is based on the 1930 play Penny Arcade by Marie Baumer. Both Cagney and Blondell reprised the roles they played in the original Broadway production.


WarigaPojja is a 2014 Sri Lankan adventure film, directed by Thushara Thennakoon and produced by the Sri Lanka Women's Development Services Cooperative Society Ltd. It stars Nadeesha Nilukshi and Jagath Manuwarna in lead roles along with Somaweera Gamage and Nayana Hettiarachchi. Music composed by Dinesh Subasinghe.The screenplay was based on a short story, Warigaya, written by Nandasiri Gamage. The film is set in the Hanthana forest area around Kandy. Wariga Pojja depicts the journey of a Morana Wariga tribesman who must escape and rescue his tribe after the destruction of the village from malaria.Nandasir Gamage named all the financial contributors as producers of this film, numbering 80,000. Each contributed 100 lkr., This was the 1204 th movie of Sri Lankan Cinema

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