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From multi-screens to early IMAX: cinema technology at Expo 67

On October 28, a round-table discussion recalls game-changing innovations at the World’s Fair in Montreal.
October 21, 2015

Source: University Communications Services

It was "pretty trippy," as people said back then. Expo 67 unveiled cutting-edge advances in cinema technology that boggled the mind, including the multi-screened Labyrinth pavilion — a  forerunner to IMAX. 

As part of the Coms50th celebratory events at Concordia, there will be a round-table discussion on Reimagining Cinema: Film at Expo 67 (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014), a publication co-edited by Monika Kin Gagnon, a professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Janine Marchessault, professor of cinema at York University.

The round table, presented by the Media History Research Centre, will take place at the Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre (Loyola Campus, RF-110) on Wednesday, October 28, at 4:30 p.m.

Speakers include Gagnon, as well as Haidee Wasson, associate dean (Research and Graduate Studies) at Concordia’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, and moderator Jeremy Stolow, associate professor in Communication Studies at Concordia.

The following is an excerpt from Gagnon and Marchessault’s introduction to Reimagining Cinema:

Central to the humanism at the heart of Expo 67’s design aesthetic was the idea of an integrated environment: architecture extended beyond buildings into environments, and screens grew into the architectonic landscape enlivened with mediated surfaces.

This book seeks to recapture some of that imagination through its focus on historical recovery. Many of the films have been permanently lost, since they depended on temporary architectures and specialized screening theatres demolished after the exhibition closed. We have been able to recover several lost films, buried and unaccessioned, deep in the recesses of archives, both institutional and personal. 

Archives are not ordered vaults that keep things safe from time. With moving images especially, they are sometimes anonymous dumping grounds, uncatalogued morgues that wait to be rediscovered, restored, reanimated. When Expo 67 was over, the same care that went into its construction was nowhere to be found when it came to preserving some of its most glorious accomplishments. Film or photographic documentation of the event was not as extensive as it would have been in the 21st century. 

In the age of television, and satellite television at that, there was perhaps a feeling that everything in its “nowness” temporality, its connectivity and expanse, would unfold without end. Finding some of these lost films (such as Polar Life and We Are Young!) took years of investigation and persistence; sadly, many more projects have been permanently lost. 

Attend more of Coms50th’s celebratory events.


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