Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

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Media Archaeology’s Object of Research:

  • Pay attention to the projections and screens within the examples
  • Plato’s Cave: The very first prototype of cinema, with simple cinematic apparatus:
  • Screen
  • Projection
  • spectators

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Karagoz from Turkey

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Ombres Chinoises
  • (Chinese Shadow)

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Magic Lantern
  • Magic Lantern

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Phantasmagoria

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Camera
  • Obscura

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Muybridge’s Cronophotography
  • Phenakistoscope
  • Thaumascope
  • Zoopraxiscope

Media Archaeology’s Object of Research

  • Anything but (Javanese and Balinese) Wayang Kulit Performance?
  •  “Wayang” = Cinema
  • Layar Tancap
  • 
  • Indonesia’s Youtube

Media Archaelogist

  • Elsaessers:
  • “For the history of early cinema in expanded field can, as indicated, provide many names of inventors, showmen, and bricoleurs, whose ways of thinking about moving images, about sound-and-image combinations, about simultaneity and interactivity landed them in dead-ends, at least from the retrospective teleology of the traditional “birth” of cinema” (Elsaesser: 2005, 22).

Media Archaeologist

  • Elsaesser:
  • In old film history, the history was written by the winners only. But in so-called new film history, “the losers” can once more have a place, and even rediscover losers in the past who turn out to have become if not the winners, then the great-grandfathers of the winners (Elsaesser: 2005, 22).

Media Archaeologist

  • Edwin S Porter vs D.W. Griffith (Noel Burch’s 1978 essay)
  • Edison or Lumiere  the headline of Der Komet, September 26, 1896
  • Lumiere Brothers: The Father of Documentary or The Father of Documentary?
  • How about Skladanowsky, Oscar Messter (Germany), William Friese Greene (Britain), Francis Jenkins, Latham family (USA), etc?

Elsaessers and Wayang

  • “One of the most persistent assumptions—and perhaps the foundational gesture on which all histories of the cinema has been based—is that of inevitability of cinema. Like a baton relay, or the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, from Plato’s parable of cave and Balinese shadow-plays, from Leonardo’studies of water in motion to Alberti’s treatise on the laws of perspective, from camera obscuras and mechanical drawing aids to magic lanterns, fog pictures and fantasmagorias, from dioramas and phenakistoscopes to thaumatropes and chronophotography, historians have beet at pains to line up, indifferently, philosophical speculation, scientific experiments, aids to observation and drawing as well as optical toys, in order to give the appearance of logic and cogency to the cinema’s creation myth: the moment when on Marc 21st 1895 the Lumiere Brothers projected their first film….(Elsaesser and Hoffman: 1997, 46).

Wayang Kulit & Media Archaeology

  • No appropriate research and exploration on Wayang Kulit performance

The Questions:

  • To what extent can we consider Wayang Kulit Performance as Part of pre-Cinema History?
  • Focus: Projection and Screen
  • Wayang kulit performance vs Layar Tancap


  • Terry Castle:” Phantasmagoria: Spectral Technology and the Metaphorics of Modern Reverie”
  • broadening meaning of Phantasmagoria: as mental activity and a cultural practice, and psyhological term
  • The importance role of projection in Phantasmagoria



  • Lev Manovic:Towards an Archaeology
  • of the Computer Screen:
  • 3 types of Screen:
  • Classical screen: a flat, rectangular surface
  • dynamic screen: cinema, television, video
  • real-time screen: radar, video live
  • The idea of temporality: classical = a static permanent image; dynamic = moving image of the past; real-time shows the present
  • relation between the space of the viewers and the space of representation

Wayang Kulit At Glance


  • made of leather
  • manipulated with sticks or buffalo horn handles.
  • cast using an oil lamp or, in modern times, a halogen light, onto a cotton cloth background.
  • Associated with gamelan drum music
  • A performance last all night long, or until dawn.
  • UNESCO: Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2003.

Wayang Kulit at Glance

  • >The shadow theatre has existed, in the lands between Turkey and China.
  • Indonesian shadow puppet performances originated in India
  • Came to Bali from Java between the 11th and 14th centuries.
  • An 11th century Balinese royal inscription mentions a wayang performance.
  • Earliest record: Central Java, 907 AD with story: Bimmaya Kumara (Claire Holt, Art in Indonesia, p 128)
  • > In Bali, Wayang Kulit performances are sacred and form part of many ceremonies in village and family temples.
  • 3 functions : instructive, entertaining and religious.
  • Chinkah in Bali in 1846. The king of Klungkung gave a performance for him.

Archaeology of Projection

  • Blencong: the Lamp:

Archaeology of Projection

  • dhalang manipulates the puppets, making them closer or farer from the lamp to create particular “special effects”
  • In phantasmagoria : the figures move back or forward toward the projection.

Plato’s Cave, Phantasmagoria, Wayang Kulit Show, Modern Cinema

  • -
  • projected in the darkened space
  • revealing a narrative about
  • another world in another space
  • Which has a direct bearing on
  • the here and now
  • (The Cinematic Mystical Gaze: The Films of Peter Weir,
  • Richard James Leonard, Cinema Studies Program,
  • University of Melbourne)

Wayang, Cinema, and Modern World

  • In Malaysia:
  • > Wayang = Film
  • Pawagam = Panggung, Wayang,
  • Gambar
  • (Stage, Shadow, and Image)
  • = Cinema

Archaeology of Screen

  • Screen in Wayang Kulit shows varies greatly in size

Manovich's Theory on screen

  • Screen in Wayang Kulit:
  • A usual screen display in, a flat,rectangular surface, intended for frontal viewing = Classical Screen
  • it can displays images changing over time = Dynamic screen
  • it is more closer to television viewing than cinema viewing = the show can become a social gathering, the spectators can choose either to completely merge with the screen’s space or do any other activities (chatting, smoking,etc)
  • doesn’t fit real-time screen

Manovich's Theory on Screen

  • Wayang’s screen does not fit any of the definitions:
  • It is not permanently set in a building. Dhalang can set-up the mobile screen anywhere, as requested by the host
  • the spectators can watch both sides of the screen
  • spectators are not always immobile or imprisoned in a viewing situation
  • Other theory: the PRIMITIVE period: the viewers were free to interact, come, go,and maintain a psychological distance from the cinematic diegesis

Tanceb concept

  • similar with Layar Tancap (mobile cinema show/outdoor cinema).

Layar Tancap

  • older than (indoor) cinema)
  • The name “layar tancap” was adopted for Indonesia’s Youtube =
  • Wayang Kulit’s screen as the ancestor of Layar Tancap?

Layar Tancap vs Wayang Kulit show

  • Both have tanceb concept
  • Both are not shown in a fixed building
  • Both’s Spectators can watch both side of the screen
  • Both are elements of
  • a larger celebration

Layar Tancap vs Wayang Kulit show

  • Both can be
  • considered as social/
  • political gathering =
  • Golkar Party’s celebration!


  • Wayang Kulit Performance : the projection and the screen


  • “new” film history makes
  • film scholars explore the
  • possibilities of the
  • untouchable and unthinkable zones
  • Wayang vs Phantasmagoria =
  • the meaning of wayang is broadened
  • Have similarity on how the projection works


  • Wayang’s screen does not entirely fit with Manovic’s definitions on screen
  • It has its own kind of type
  • It is similar with the screen of Layar Tancap


  • Wayang Kulit as one of “the grandfathers”
  • of modern cinema
  • Thank You

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