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1878 __ Talking photographs '''‘
Worldworth Donisthorpe (1847-1914)
French comment : La lettre "Talking Photographs" que Worldworth Donisthorpe (1847-1914), avocat à Liverpool, adresse le 24 janvier 1878 au magazine Nature, appartient plus à la préhistoire du cinéma qu'à celle de la télévision. Il est cependant d'usage de la citer dans le cadre de la pré-histoire de la télévision, pour indiquer la simultanéité des premiers pas vers la mise au point du cinéma d'une part, de la télévision d'autre part. Elle est publiée à peine un mois après la publication par Scientific American (22 December 1877) de la première description du phonographe, pour lequel Thomas Alva Edison avait déposé une demande de brevet le 24 décembre 1877. En proposant de coupler le phonographe avec le "kinesigraph", Donisthorpe formule la première hypothèse d'une appareil permettant de coupler la projection d'images animées avec l'enregistrement du son. Il est intéressant de constater que cet article est lui-même publié un mois avant que le Professeur portugais Adriano de Paiva termine la rédaction de son article "A telefonia, a telegrafia e a telescopia" qui est la première formulation théorique de la diffusion des images à distance par le biais de l'électricité. (André Lange)
Original excerpt : « Jan. 24, 1878 - Talking Photographs.The article from the "Scientific American" on the phonograph which is quoted in Nature, vol. XVII, p. 190, concludes as follows : "it is already possible, by ingenious optical contrivances, to throw stereoscopic photographs of people on screens in full view of an audience. Add the talking phonograph to counterfeit their voices and it would be difficult to carry the illusion of real presence much further". Ingeniousas this suggested combination is, I believe I am in a position to cap it. By combining the phonograph with the kinesigraph I will undertake not only to produce a talking picture of Mr. Gladstone which, with motionless lips and unchanged expression shall positively recite his latest anti-Turkish speech in his own voice and tone. Not only this, but the life-size photograph itself shall move and gesticulate corresponding as in real life. Surely this is an advance upon the conception of th "Scientific American' ! The mode in which I effect this is described in the accompanying provisional specification, which may be breifly summed up thus : Instantaneous photographs of bodies or groups of bodies in motion are taken at equal short intervals -- says quarter of half second -- the exposure of the plate occupying not more than an eighth of a second. After fixing, the prints from these plates are taken one below another on a long strip or ribbon of paper. The strip is wound from one cylinder to another so as to cause the several photographs to pass before the eyes successively at the same intervals of time as those at which they were taken. Each picture as it passes the eye is instantaneously lightes up by an electric spark. Thus the picture is made to appear stationary while the people or things in it appear to move as in nature. I need not enter more into detail beyond saying that if the intervals between the presentation of the successive pictures are found to be too short the gaps can be filled up by duplicates of triplicates of each succeeding print. This will not perceptibly alter the general effect. I think it will be admitted that by this means of drame acted by daylight or magnesium light may be recorded and reacted on the screen or sheet of magic lantern, and with the assistance of the phonograph the dialogues may be repeated in the very voices of the actors. When this is actually accomplished the photography of colours will alone be wanting to render the representation absolutely complete, and for this we shall not, I trust, have long to wait.WORDSWORTH DONISTHORPE.Prince's Park, Liverpool, January 12. »
Source : Donisthorpe, Worldworth (1878), “Talking Photographs”, In Nature, 24 January 1878.
Source : Lange, André (1986), “Stratégies de la musique”, Pierre Mardaga, Bruxelles-Liège, 1986.
Urls : http://histv2.free.fr/19/donisthorpe.htm (last visited )

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