At the end of a decade that saw an exponential, almost vertiginous development in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, big data analysis, computer vision, algorithms, machine learning and virtual networks, in new and sometimes even unpredictable directions, the 2019 “Udine” Film and Media Studies Conference Moving Pictures, Living Machines: Automation, Animation and the Imitation of Life in Cinema and Media set its focus on the themes of automation and technology in cinema and the media. The ever-increasing scale and relevance of automation processes and technological changes currently at play in every field of human activities – including communication media, artistic practices, social media interaction, archival preservation and restoration – urges an in-depth exploration of the implications and repercussions of this momentous passage. We intend to do this from a privileged vantage point: after all, due to its technological and mediatic nature, since its very outset cinema has been a site of exploration and experimentation of automatic images, representations of machines, technological developments, human-machine interactions, new concepts of modern visions and artificial gazes.

The contributions presented at the conference and now gathered in this volume navigate the complex questions concerning the interrelationships between automation, representation and “viewing/listening dispositives” from early to late modernity, up to postmodernity.