In Musser’s “Toward a History of Screen Practice,” he suggests that there was not necessarily a “start” to cinema, and that it can instead be part of screen practice. To Musser, screen practice entails most things involving a screen: the magic lantern, cinema, and everything in between. The start of screen practice, as implied by Kircher, is when an observer first viewed projected images, and thus became a spectator.
In the 1600s, Kircher created a catoptric lamp, which reflected images onto a wall. It worked by having images etched upside down and backward on a mirror, and pointed at a wall, where a lens would be in between the two. Sunlight would be reflected off the image surface and reflect projections on the wall. The catoptric lamp was a precursor to the magic lantern, which used images painted on glass and artificial lighting. There was also the Magia Catoptrica, which used a revolving piece of circular glass with eight images painted on it. The eyepiece caused an effect of enlarged succession of images. It tended to have similar subject matter to the magic lantern, but utilized private viewing whereas the magic lantern promoted more of a group-viewing experience.
The different methods and screen types that came with screen practice provided a way to interact that was new to society. It was used for entertainment; many saw it as “magic” and it was used both as a toy for children and a tool of pornography. These were types of interaction that people back then could not really get anywhere else, which made screen practice unique. Now, we have much more interaction with our screens, and many more screens to choose from. Often, we will even be using multiple screens at once. For example, I will often look at social media on my phone while watching TV on my laptop. This promotes a detachment from whatever is on our screens, and causes our attention to be easily created or destroyed. Multitasking with screens causes us to give attention to too many things at once, and thus not enough attention to each thing. This can lead to the content of the screens having only a shallow impact on the viewers. With this issue of too many screens and not enough attention so prevalent in today’s society, it makes me wonder: How has the development of new screen technology affected our attention spans?