Written in 2000 for FILM COMMENT.
"She was so old that she could still remember when they called that kind of work 'films.' Films--long strips of plastic printed with darkness and light. The memory of film, the sense and the substance of the medium of film, brought her a nostalgia as sharp as broken glass."--Bruce Sterling, Holy Fire (1998).
The name of this magazine will be an anachronism within a decade. Two at the most. The definitive art form of the 20th century will be lucky to survive even a few years past its widely celebrated 100th birthday. Fifty years from now there may still be public exhibition events that we will chose to call movies, but there will be no more "films" -- not outside museums, anyway, where antique persistence of vision devices, carefully preserved and maintained by university-trained specialists, will still be used to throw beams of light through perforated strips of celluloid, emitting a shadow-spectacle for dwindling crowds of cultural antiquarians.
This, at least, is what some people within the community of souls dedicated to keeping those films viable for a few more years, the archivists and preservationists, are saying.