The Meaning of “Animation” in Edison’s Frankenstein (1910)

This video is an experimental “annotation essay” that develops a reading of Edison’s Frankenstein (1910) through on-screen text annotations. This is the complete film, unedited except for the annotations and new digital intertitles.

The video’s argument is adapted from Chapter 3 of my book Postnaturalism: Frankenstein, Film, and the Anthropotechnical Interface: “Monsters in Transit: Edison’s Frankenstein.”

This is my second Frankenstein-themed video essay. The first one, on sound in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), can be found in the online journal [in]Transition.

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Frankenstein 1910 Glitch Mix

Video meditation inspired by the final paragraph of my book Postnaturalism:

Recoding our perceptions of the Frankenstein film, including even our view of Karloff’s iconic monster as the “original” of its type, Edison’s Frankenstein joins the ranks of the Frankenstein film series, now situating itself at our end rather than at the beginning of that series’ history. Now, prospering among the short clips of YouTube, where it is far more at home than any of the feature films ever could be, the Edison monster becomes capable again of articulating a “medial” narrative—a tale told from a middle altitude, from a position half-way between the diegetic story, on the one hand, of the monster’s defeat by a Frankenstein who grows up and “comes to his senses” and, on the other hand, a non-diegetic, media-historical metanarrative that, in contrast to the story of medial maturation it encoded in 1910, now articulates a tale of visual media’s currently conflicted state, caught between historical specificity and an eternal recurrence of the same. The monster’s medial narrative communicates with our own medial position, mediates possible transactions in a realm of experimentation, in which human and nonhuman agencies negotiate the terms of their changing relations. With its digitally scarred body, pocked by pixels and compression “artifacts,” the century-old monster opens a line of flight that, if we follow it, might bring us face to face with the molecular becoming of our own postnatural future.