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Digital Cinema: Embracing the Future of Film



29 April 2013

Dr Bruce Isaacs
Dr Bruce Isaacs: "We need to divest ourselves of a language that uses words like authenticity. If a digital image is not authentic, then what is it?"

As a specialist in film aesthetics and the evolution of American cinema, Dr Bruce Isaacs from the Department of Art History and Film Studies, is "interested in how cinema has evolved, from the classics up until the present moment, and particularly the contemporary forms of cinematic experience".

And with advancements in film leading to digital cinema, he has been taking a close look at the shift from celluloid film to digital film.

"I wanted to come to terms philosophically with the way we experience cinema," explains Dr Isaacs. "What are the differences between the way we experience celluloid images and digital images? A celluloid image is a complete photograph, whilst a digital image is never complete. What does that mean for the way we understand film?"

This is one of the questions he has asked in his newest book, titled The Orientation of Future Cinema: Technology, Aesthetics Spectacle (Bloomsbury 2013). The book is receiving high praise, with one reviewer stating that it "breaks new ground in cinema and media studies". When researching his book, Dr Isaacs talked with technicians and theorists about the tension that exists in the industry between celluloid and the digital future of film.

Celluloid films, with their scratches and imperfections, have been seen by the media to be in genuine crisis, but Dr Isaacs takes a more positive approach.

"We need to divest ourselves of a language that uses words like authenticity. If a digital image is not authentic, then what is it?" He believes instead that we should be asking: "what are some of the rich potentials of digital?"

The book is the latest academic achievement for Dr Bruce Isaacs, whose affiliation with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences goes back to his days as a student. After majoring in English, Dr Isaacs went on to pursue postgraduate study. In 2010, he made the move to the Department of Art History and Film Studies, where he has been researching and lecturing ever since.

"I've been interested in cinema since I was a child," Isaacs explains, "I've become increasingly fascinated with it." Isaacs' passion for film was cemented when he undertook an examination into the works of filmmaker David Lynch for his honours thesis.

With his book now in print, Dr Isaacs is turning his attention to research on genre cinema. Looking at the films of Sergio Leone, Dario Argento, Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino, he will explore the subversion of genre and how these filmmakers have influenced each other.

For Dr Isaacs, The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is proving to be both an inspiring and nurturing space in which to undertake this research. "I feel that the University has a strong investment in the Arts, and in cultural engagement, and so I'm privileged to be part of such an environment."

Dr Isaacs believes that cinema today is as important a form of cultural engagement as it ever was. "In that sense," he says, "I feel a real sense of purpose in what I do."

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