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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathSound & Vision
Phonograph (Edison, Thomas Alva), 1877Kinetograph Theater (Edison, Thomas Alva)

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] Phonograph. This invention is in fact an almost random by-product of his work on improved telegraphic apparatus and Edison wasn't really sure what to do with it at first, so he started putting ideas for possible uses of the phonograph together, as this was the only way to make it sell. Unlike Kastner with his pyrophone, Edison was not trying to demonstrate aesthetic effects, but to make marketable products. In other words, the pyrophone is an aesthetic machine that like a work of art has its purpose within itself, whereas the «phonograph» is seen as a pragmatic machine that is made and sold because someone needs it for something.

The «Phonograph» did make Edison world-famous, but was still a commercial flop because the new medium did not find any convincing application. Further development of his invention brought Edison to the moving image, to his film projector, called a «kinetoscope,» and also to the first film camera. All he had to do was transfer Eadweard Muybridge's «chronophotography» to a similar apparatus that now played back images instead of sounds. And Edison was also trying to combine these two inventions, to that he


could synchronize image and sound in his «Kinetograph-theater».

The consequences can still be felt today: the success of the audiovisual media that shape our current lifestyle is based on a synthesis of Wagner's aesthetic effect and Edison's technical inventions. But there is still a long way to go to the present day. Edison's two inventions led to gramophone and film, and thus first of all to a separation of image and sound: the gramophone record removes all the visual aspects of music, and the silent film compels actors to use exaggerated gestures and audiences to read titles. Despite these technical obstacles, film and gramophone changed the world from 1910 onwards. They are standardized distribution and playback media and were used first of all to convey tried-and-tested cultural forms. So the future belongs to the pragmatic machines, not the aesthetic ones.

There could be a short digression here about numerous people who built synaesthetic apparatus in the early 20th century: Wallace Rimington's and Alexander Burnett Hector's color organs, Alexander Laszlo's color-lightmusic, Anatol Graf

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