Doron Galili

Jul 2, 2020

Seeing by Electricity

The Emergence of Television, 1878-1939

Duke University Press 2020

With the burst of new technologies in the 1870s, many inventors and visionaries believed that the transmission of moving images was just around the corner. As Doron Galili details in his book Seeing by Electricity: The Emergence of Television, 1878-1939 (Duke University Press, 2020), the half-century of speculations that followed did much to shape the development of broadcast television well before it emerged in the 1930s. Galili notes that much of this occurred within the context of contemporary technologies such as the cinema and the telephone, both of which pointed to the inherent possibilities of such an invention yet embodied very different ideas about image and communications. Seeking to conceptualize moving image technology, people often used the eye as a metaphor or model for how it might operate or the role that it would serve. Though the emergence of the cinema industry in the United States did much to shape the context in which television would develop in the United States, Galili shows how differing theories of visual media and society in the Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy offered alternate models that influenced how the new technology was received in their respective countries.

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