The exhibition Time Machine: Cinematic Temporalities was presented in the 25 rooms of the Palazzo del Governatore in the Italian city of Parma. It opened on January 12th, 2020, as part of the cultural program of Parma 2020, the year in which Parma had been designated to be the Italian Capital of Culture, and, although initially scheduled to be open until May, it closed on March 8th, 2020, when Italy began its first national lockdown caused by the covid pandemic.

The exhibition tackled the ways in which cinema and other moving-image media such as video and video installations have transformed, throughout their history, our perception of time. Moving across the 25 rooms of the Palazzo del Governatore, the visitor experienced a kind of “time travel” made possible by different cinematic techniques of time manipulation such as slow motion and acceleration, loops and reversals, time-lapse and freeze frame, multiple exposures, stop-motion animation, as well as different variations of the operation of montage. The end goal, was to show that through their material supports, their analog and digital technologies, and the restless creativity of the artists, experimental filmmakers and film directors that have engaged with them, cinema and other moving-image media have made time malleable, exhibiting a plasticity of time that led the French film director and theorist Jean Epstein to describe cinema as “a machine for thinking time” (L’Intelligence d’une machine, 1946).

Organized in four sections (1. Flows, 2. Instants, 3. Re-montage, 4. Oscillations) which weave together images stemming from the different areas of early, classical, modern and contemporary cinema, scientific cinema and experimental cinema, video art and video installations—with several incursions into the history of photography—the exhibition covered a time frame that spans from 1895 to the future that lies just ahead of us: from the year of the first public screening of the Lumière’s Cinématographe and of the first publication of H.G. Wells’s time-travel fiction The Time Machine, to the new nonhuman temporalities of moving images produced by artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks.

Curated by Antonio Somaini with Éline Grignard and Marie Rebecchi, from an idea by Michele Guerra

Associate Curator: Antoine Prévost-Balga

Research and iconography: Adèle Yon

Graphic design: Bureau Roman Seban

Book: Antonio Somaini and Marie Rebecchi

Film editing: Margaux Serre with Éline Grignard

Production: Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Artists, Photographers, Filmmakers, Film directors

  • Masanao Abe
  • Martin Arnold
  • Pascal Baes
  • Rosa Barba
  • Jeffrey Blondes
  • Berlyn Brixner
  • Lucien Bull
  • Grégory Chatonsky
  • Segundo de Chomon
  • David Claerbout
  • Jean Comandon
  • Tacita Dean
  • Gustav Deutsch
  • Jean Durand
  • Sergei M. Eisenstein
  • Jean Epstein
  • Harun Farocki
  • Alain Fleischer
  • Paolo Gioli
  • Jean-Luc Godard
  • Douglas Gordon
  • Hilary Harris
  • Ken Jacobs
  • Ange Leccia
  • Albert Londes
  • Auguste and Louis Lumière
  • Ernst Mach
  • Etienne-Jules Marey
  • Nicholas Meyer
  • Peter Miller
  • Jan Cornelis Mol
  • Bill Morrison
  • Christopher Nolan
  • Jean Painlevé
  • Jacques Perconte
  • Godfrey Reggio
  • Max Reichmann
  • Walter Ruttmann
  • Percy Smith
  • Robert Smithson
  • Ralph Steiner
  • Malena Szlam
  • Dziga Vertov
  • Simon Wells
  • Arthur M. Worthington