17 Pages

IMAX Technology and the Tourist Gaze

WithCharles R. Acland

IMAX grew out of the large and multiple screen film experiments produced for Expo '67 in Montréal. Since then, it has become the most successful large format cinema technology. IMAX is a multiple articulation of technological system, corporate entity and cinema practice. This article shows how IMAX is reintroducing a technologically mediated form of 'tourist gaze', as elaborated by John Urry, into the context of the institutions of museums and theme parks. IMAX is seen as a powerful exemplar of the changing role of cinema-going in contemporary post-Fordist culture, revealing new configurations of older cultural forms and practices. In particular, the growth of this brand of commercial cinema runs parallel to a blurring of the realms of social and cultural activity, referred to as a process of 'dedifferentiation'. This article gives special attention to the espistemological dimensions of IMAX's conditions of spectatorship.