Grey Room

The Coupling of Cinematics and Kinematics

Kyle Stine

The Cinema Integraph analog computer for harmonic analysis. From The Journal of the Franklin Institute (1940).


The history of computing is inseparable from the history of cinema. Such is the contention of Stine’s essay, which treats the Cinema Integraph: a technique developed by Gordon S. Brown in collaboration with Norbert Wiener at MIT in the 1930s. Printing sinusoidal curves onto celluloid cinematic film, the Cinema Integraph enabled Brown and Wiener to transform optical patterns into Fourier analyses and other mathematical computations. Situated amongst Wiener’s cybernetics and its interpretation, the Cinema Integraph becomes, for Stine, a mechanism crucial for reclaiming as much a deep history binding together technologies of calculating and picturing as the insoluble unities repressed by familiar oppositions of the analogue to the digital.