Chapter 1 demonstrates how vinyl recordings that served as a mnemonic tool for the storage of autobiographical memory have been used as a plot device to illustrate how film created new forms of audiovisual memory. Through the technological reproducibility of temporal objects, records became not only instrumental in the transition from live to canned music; they were also deployed in sound films to show how cinema attaches a permanent visual component to auditory recollection, thereby creating a kind of a phono-photograph akin to the workings of Henri Bergson’s memory cone. The chapter’s case studies focus on films that exemplify a new mode of such medium self-consciousness. The Legend of 1900 (1998) dramatizes the momentous shift from episodic memories residing uniquely in the musician’s body to being stored externally in vinyl recordings produced for the masses after the turn of the century. Penny Serenade (1941) uses an album of phonographic records to narrate the story of a marriage, where the records become memory objects whose thingness may retain a connection to the contingency of the remembered event.
Keywords: The Legend of 1900 (1998), Penny Serenade (1941), technological reproducibility, memory objects, autobiographical memory, medium self-consciousness, thingness, phono-photograph, Henri Bergson
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