still from Filmworks by Anthony McCall via Lombard Street

Image and transport technologies, revolutionized in the nineteenth century, instigated new relationships with time as fundamental as those begun in the transition from prehistory to recorded time (Kern 1993). Both Paul Virilio (1989) and Friedrich Kittler (1999) suggest that cinema must be located in the twinning of media and military technologies. As Sigfried Zielinski argues, however, reiterating the assertion made earlier by Lewis Mumford (1934: 12-18), nineteenth-century military and media technologies both depended for their mechanization and automation on the logically and chronologically prior development of the clock (Zielinski 1999: 72-74). The new armaments and logistics of the Maxim gun and the tank, like the new network of rail and telegraph, like the structured time of the shutter, derive both technologically and conceptually from the mechanized measurement of time. Without the mass-scale precision engineering required by the popularization of watches and clocks in the 1870s, the machine gun, the railway schedule, the production line, the cash register, and the cinematograph are not thinkable. The splitting of human actions into mechanically discrete movements, the atomization of economics and bureaucratic flows into distinct and quasi-autonomous, even meaningless keystrokes on the adding machine and typewriter, the Taylorization of work at Ford's River Rouge plant all spring from the same imagining of time as a discrete series of steps. And yet, although the cinema has the discretion of a chronometer, it also struggles with other temporalities, some coming into being, some fading from their old hegemony. However important the addition of the second hand to mass-produced watches, it alone cannot account for the opening up of microscopic, infinitesimal times, or the mise-en-abyme of the commodity fetish as it spiraled into spectacle.

- Sean Cubitt, The Cinema Effect. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005. Pg. 6-7 selected by Greg J Smyth via Serial Consign