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What is a cinema? Death, closure and the database
chapterposted on 2013-01-01, 00:00 authored by Debby Verhoeven
This chapter explores the possible ontological questions and epistemological propositions that arise from detailed empirical research into cinema closures. Repeated pronouncements of the ‘Death of Cinema’ in the wake of technological, social and industrial change serve to reinforce the coincidence of ‘death’ with a type of ‘closure’. The evocation of a ‘crisis’ in the cinema is ordinarily articulated within the terms of specific cultural concerns around transience and transformation in the social experience of the cinema. However, rather than adding another chapter to the apocalyptic historiography of the cinema this paper proposes instead the constitutive importance of ‘closure’ as a critical tool for rethinking our defining assumptions about cinema(s). Specifically, the chapter will demonstrate how the conceptual granularity entailed in the development of a detailed database of venue openings and closings (the Cinema and Audiences in Australia Project database) can in turn lead to a fundamental reconsideration of the ontology of the cinema itself.