Franziska Heller

 Continiously Back to the Future. The Digital “Myth” and Its Concepts of Media History in the Everyday Experience

At the beginning of the new millennium, more and more scholars began to work on the myths that developed around ‘the digital’. Notably Lev Manovich’s still paramount study as well as the work of Tom Holert deconstructed these myths to systematize and specify the diversity of layers and phenomena that come with digital media technologies. At the same time, they always developed more or less explicit models of media history when comparing the special qualities of ‘new’ media with those of the older ones, thereby devising their own concepts of historiographic dynamics. ‘Digitization’ becomes a historiographic problem. Ten years later the same authors still enjoy widespread reception. This poses the question what happened during the decade in between and how this influences the emerging term ,post-digitality.‘

My research topic is an exemplary one, insofar as the so-called ‘retrodigitization’ – in itself not an undisputed term – marks an area in which media transition is not only modeled theoretically but also carried out practically. ‘Retrodigitization’ comprises the actual digitization of historic films but also their release and distribution by means of digital storage and playback media. Especially the latter allow for new forms of reception in everyday life and private spaces.

In my case study, the concept of myth appears on the level of the story of the historical (‘classic’) movie as well as in its history of versions. The history of reception gets intertwined with the images of digital technologies used in the contemporary restoration and distribution of the film. With this example, I would like to sketch out the interactions between different levels of historiographic modeling. Thus I want to reflect on the idea that ‘post-digitality’ is linked to concepts of modernity. Furthermore, I will discuss what kinds of historiographic concepts are at work at the level of the filmic experience – in the public as well as in the private sphere that are both invaded by digital means of distribution.


CV  Franziska Heller, Dr. phil., Post-Doc researcher and lecturer at the Institute of Cinema Studies at the University of Zurich. 2009 dissertation at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Until 2010 researcher at the CTI-project “AFRESA, an automatic system for the reconstruction of archive films”. 2011- 05/2013 researcher at the project „Film History Re-Mastered“ funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (habilitation project). From 06/2013 onwards researcher at the CTI-project “DIASTOR. Bridging the gap between the analog film history and digital technology”. Contributing author of several anthologies and journals. Research areas: phenomenological narratology and theory of filmic perception; theory and practice of retro-digitzation and archiving; media transitions and its consequences for memopolitics and film historiography. Selected publications: Filmästhetik des Fluiden. Strömungen des Erzählens von Vigo bis Tarkowskij, von Huston bis Cameron. München: Wilhelm Fink, 2010. And: „Warum Filmgeschichte? Wie die Digitalisierung unser Bild der Vergangenheit verändert…“ In: Memento Movie. Materialien zum audiovisuellen Erbe. 2013.