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Mechanical Witness: A History of Motion Picture Evidence in U.S. Courts

Mechanical Witness A History of Motion Picture Evidence in U.S. Courts

  • Author:
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press USA
  • ISBN: 9780195315066
  • Published In: November 2009
  • Format: Paperback , 144 pages
  • Jurisdiction: U.S. ? Disclaimer:
    Countri(es) stated herein are used as reference only

List Price: HKD 280.00

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  • Description 
  • Contents 
  • Author 
  • Reviews
  • Details

    • Presents the first study of motion-picture evidence in US courts
    • Schwartz's interdisciplinary approach will appeal to scholars of film, media, and the law
    • Concise, accessible history that features some of the most noteworthy criminal cases in U.S. history
    Mechanical Witness will be the first cultural and legal history charting the changing role and theoretical implications of the use of film and video as courtroom evidence. The author moves from the earliest uses of film in the courts of the 1920s to Osama Bin Laden's taped statements after 9/11, revealing how the courts have developed a reliance on film and video technologies and contributed to the growing influence of visual media in twentieth century America. At the same time, the meaning of film and video as used in juridical contexts has developed a theoretical legacy which both resonates with and contradicts existing scholarship--focusing on economic, social, or aesthetic factors--which hitherto has defined film's status and cultural contribution. 

    In the context of a trial, the possible meanings of a film or video can be very different from its meaning when shown in a movie theater or broadcast on television, yet the public and cinema scholars tend to assume that the meaning of an image remains constant. Mechanical Witness demonstrates that we must understand evidentiary film and video's institutional specificity if we are to understand the effects of motion picture technologies on our culture. This study sets the terms for a long overdue assessment of how the entertainment industry has dominated and shaped our film viewing practices, the place of moving picture evidence in the courtroom, and the social and cultural consequences of these intertwined histories.

     

    Readership: Scholars of film and legal history; readers of Discourse, Cinema Journal, and Critical Inquiry.

  • 1: Introduction
    2: Introducing Films into the Courts: The 1920s
    3: The Development of Case Law Governing the Use of Motion Picture Evidence in the 1940s and 1950s
    4: Framing Videotape: The Electronic Para-Sight, Juridical Infrastructure, and Testimonial Images In and Out of Court
    5: The Rodney King Case, Or Moving Testimony
    Bibliography
    Index

  • Louis-Georges Schwartz is Assistant Professor at the School of Film at Ohio University.

  • "This pathbreaking study of case law rescues film studies from the cloisters by tracing the use of cinema in the U.S. courts. Valuable for its research and a model of exposition, this is a marvelous book."-Toby Miller, author of Makeover Nation

    "Mechanical Witness is an important piece of film history and it is well situated in ongoing dialogs in film history and theory. It is well written and informed by outstanding research."-Lisa Cartwright, coauthor of Practices of Looking

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