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Lifemirror: a reconsideration of cinema as a collective process between digital and organic networks

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Oliver Case
Publication date2016
Number of pages233
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis argues that cinema is going through a radical transformation. When cameras and screens become digitally networked a circuit is formed, not only between films and their audience, but to a shared reality in time. Crowdsourcing, cloud film and myriad mobile applications are bringing together individual perspectives in ways that render experience as collectively cinematic. This accelerating transition is further reflected in the increasing refinement of interactivity in social networks. Underlying these emergent practices remains the assumption that directing and editing film is fundamental to the experience of cinema. This practice-led thesis reconsiders the control function of film by reframing it as a temporal sense-connection between organic and digital networks. By iteratively replacing authorial film structuration with networked sensitivities, a collective psycho-mechanical quality of cinema is produced. I develop and question this emergent quality as a ‘network-image’ in relation to its creator-audience and ask how future development of the concept may realise wider socio-cinematic transformations. In this way, the thesis contributes a preliminary artefact and foundational theory intended to mobilise a practice and discourse for a network cinema.
The thesis is theoretically informed by the philosophical frameworks of Giles Deleuze, and in particular his engagement with time through the lens of cinema. Using these ideas as a foundation, I identify the collective form of cinema as an evolutionary step in media consciousness. An experimental incarnation of this process is embodied in the submitted artefact, Lifemirror, a system that connects cameras to generate and observe film as a shared process in time rather than an authored production of time. As an audience-led incarnation of cinema, the films produced by the system challenge dominant models and reposition narrative as inherent to an environment unfolding through individually mobilised sense and contingency. As such, the research finds a temporally directed perceptual space between organic and digital networks that forms a distinct foundation for a ‘cinema-without-cinema’, a cinema-to-come in between networked movements that prefigures an engagement with co-conscious time.

Bibliographic note

Please note: The videos mentioned in the thesis are available online at www.networkcinema.org