Camera movement has been part of cinematic language since the earliest days of cinema. From the Lumiere’s view of Lyon from a train to Cuaron’s compositing of Sandra Bullock tumbling through space in Gravity, camera movement has performed viewers’ dynamic relationship to mise-en-scene, objects, characters and events. From Industrial Light and Magic’s 1975 Dykstraflex, computer-controlled cameras established a new level of precision and repeatability in camera movement. Such devices have become the most familiar mediators of a robotic aesthetic. They allow inhumanly rapid or slow movements that provide any-movement-whatever in the world of the scene. Seen particularly in science fiction and advertising, the spectacular robotic camera movement promises sensorial experience untethered from the body.
Chris Chesher is Senior Lecturer in Digital Cultures in the Department of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. His recent research has focused on robotics, smart speakers, the smart home and digital real estate.