The Modernist Mass Media

  • Christopher Crouch


As we saw in Chapter 1, by the turn of the century the technologies and structures that were to provide the international mass media were in place. The printing of newspapers and journals with photographic images was commonplace, and people were used to seeing filmed images of the world. A slow process of transcultural assimilation was taking place; it was possible for the first time to see moving images of New York in Moscow within weeks of their filming. A process of eroding the differences between cultural centres was being established that allowed the early Modernists to talk increasingly of an international urban culture.1 We need to think of the various components of the mass media as working together to form a series of sets of communication. What was to make the journals and newspapers of the metropolitan centres important was not solely the ideas that were contained within their printed pages, but also that they were readily transportable by train from centre to region. Similarly, without a sophisticated infrastructure that allowed both travel and the transportation of objects, without a network of venues that allowed for the gathering of groups of people, the early cinema would have been impossible.


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  1. 2.
    M. Ray (1935) ‘On Photographic Realism’ in C. Phillips (1989) Photography in the Modern Era , Museum of Modern Art, New York, p. 57.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    E. Kallai and A. Renger-Patzsch (1929) ‘A Postscript to Photo-Inflation/Boom Times’, ibid., p. 141.Google Scholar
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    V. Santholzer (1925) ‘The Triumphant Beauty of Photography’, ibid., p. 309.Google Scholar
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    A. Rodchenko (1928) ‘The Paths of Modern Photography’, ibid., p. 259.Google Scholar
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    Perhaps the earliest of these is Frank Mottershaw’s A Daring Daylight Burglary filmed for the Sheffield Photo Company in the UK in 1903.Google Scholar
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    S. Eisenstein (1929) ‘Film Form’ in G. Mast and C. Cohen (eds), Film Theory and Criticism, Oxford University Press, p. 123.Google Scholar
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    V. Stepanova (1973) ‘Photomontage’, ibid., p. 235.Google Scholar
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    F. Weil quoted in R. Wiggerhaus (1994) The Frankfurt School, Polity Press, p. 12.Google Scholar
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    W. Benjamin (1979) One Way Street and Other Writings, New Left Books.Google Scholar
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    W. Benjamin (1970) ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ in Illuminations, Fontana, p. 223.Google Scholar
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    In T. Adorno and M. Horkheimer (1986) Dialectic of Enlightenment, Verso. First published 1944.Google Scholar

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© Christopher Crouch 1999

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  • Christopher Crouch

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