cinema of attractions

16mm
dir. tara ernst
2003

At the turn of the 20th century, cinema was in its infancy; no one knew what sort of purpose it would serve or which inventions would win out over others. This was the time of the World Fair, when nations would exhibit the best and most impressive of spectacles from its most renowned inventors. First sold as a fair ground attraction to thrill and amaze unsuspecting audiences, the cinematic image was later used in elaborate stage shows to conjure ghosts and specters. At a time when the projected image was still a novelty, patrons would line up around the block to catch a glimpse of its enchanting spectacle.

Similarly photographs shared the same novelty, and few households, outside of the wealthy, had family albums. Individuals wishing to obtain a photographic portrait of themselves had to visit specialized portrait studios, often set up in the photographer's homes. The private spaces of the photographer's studio also leant themselves to secrets, as countless historic photographic images from the time reveal.

In her 16mm film Cinema of Attraction artist Tara Ernst imagines a day in the life of the early 20th c. photographer whom, in the privacy of his home studio, attracts all kinds of curious clientele who come seeking to become thier own spector. In a series of short vignettes we are introduced to a cast of strange characters, whom over the course of one evening demonstrate various odd talents and abilities - eventually tempting the photographer into their own parlor games of debauchery. Here the subject of the photographic image becomes its own spectacle - with the photographer himself becoming part of the attractions.

This project was made possible through a scholarship grant from The Arts Council of British Columbia

British Columbia Arts Council

tara ernst © 2012