Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema

 

pg. 354

A new language is going to develop. There are ways in which shaping the relationships of images cuts through the superficial realities and reaches for something deeper.

 

Francis Thompson, a pioneer in large-scale multi-image film techniques, currently is working toward both micro- and macroenvironmental experiences. "We're interested in films expanding and swallowing a huge audience," he said, "but we're also interested in pictures the size of a wristwatch. We would like to make the world's smallest motion picture as well as the largest. As regards the idea of expanded cinema, I would like to make a theatre that would be a huge sphere, as big as Radio City Music Hall or larger, and seat the audience around one side of it: a series of balconies so everybody's in the front row. The audience would become part of the sphere. The picture comes around as far as you can see, and beneath you too. "What I would like to see is a theatre with so great an area that you no longer think in terms of a screen: it's the area you're projecting on. Your images should come out of this great, completely surrounding area and hit you in the eye or go off into infinity. So you're no longer working with a flat surface but rather an infinite volume. 

 

---Thompson's other major interest is the earphone/eyephone concept similar to the hoodlike training devices used in aircraft and aerospace navigation schools. A mini-dome or individual sphere is lowered over the head of the viewer. "You have images that completely fill your field of vision and sound that would fill your entire range of hearing." Thompson also finds in expanded cinema the potential for a new consciousness and life style. "Through formal relationships of images, most carefully planned, you can produce the most powerful kind of communication. With a great sphere you're introducing people into a whole new visual world which would be emotionally, physically, and intellectually overwhelming."