Movie Projectors and Machine Guns: Rapid-Fire Art Education and the Essence of the Modern
In 1916, Hugo Münsterberg published a book on the new, but already immensely popular social phenomenon of film. In this book, “The Photoplay: A Psychological Study,” Münsterberg takes on criticisms of the new medium that portray it as, at best, little more than a low-class petty distraction, and at worst, a corrupting agent within civil society. Münsterberg, a pioneer of both experimental and occupational psychology, through both a psychological and philosophical analysis of film as a phenomenon, comes to the conclusion that the new medium represents a powerful new tool for the aesthetic education of the masses. In my analysis of Münsterberg’s study and proposal, I explore the metaphysical presuppositions of a thinker who touches on one of the very nerves of modernity itself, at a point where technology, mass society, mass culture, the assembly line, aesthetics, and death intersect.
Keywords: Art, Education, Film, Aesthetics, Psychology, Technology, Cinema, Modern, Modernity, Modernism, Hugo Muensterberg, Philosophy
Graduate Student / Teaching Assistant, Department of History, University of British Columbia