When George Eastman introduced the first Kodak camera, he said, “You press the button, we do the rest.”
In Friday’s research colloquium, doctoral candidate Saul Kutnicki talked about the decline of the company’s Kodak Park in Rochester, New York.
This decline and closure reflects the idea of impermanent cinema, Kutnicki said.
His presentation, “Putting ‘… the rest’ to Rest and the Ends of Kodak Park,” talked about technological, economic and industrial shifts and their effects on Kodak and the film industry as a whole.
“The impermanence of cinema I’m interested in is intimately connected to a history of industrial change,” he said.
At its peak, Kodak Park was nearly as big as IU’s campus, he said. Then, Kodak was synonymous with the film industry.
The factory was constructed to be a large, permanent part of Rochester. Many of the structures themselves were made of brick, which contributed to this idea of industrial permanence.
“Nothing initially seems more striking about Kodak Park than its sheer size,” he said. “Kodak was meant to be seen as a permanent fixture.”
However, with the decline of film use came the decline of Kodak Park. The factory began to shrink, and buildings were demolished.
The company was aware of how the demolitions looked, Kutnicki said, and it tried to “reframe demolition as making room for progress.”
“The transformation of Kodak Park was certainly a tremor in the history of film,” he said.
Overall, the demise of Kodak Park marked the end of Kodak’s status as film and camera giant, he said, and it was a sign of the decline of a medium that people thought would be a permanent part of image and cinema culture.