In July 1910, Irish architect Joseph Holloway commented in his diary after a visit to Dublin’s Volta picture house that “the taste of the moment seems all for ‘pictures.’” This instance of synaesthesia alerts us to the extent that Holloway’s diary represents a unique account of the physical and sensory experience of early cinema in a major European city. Running to an estimated 25 million words, the diary records the minutiae of Holloway’s life, in many ways a mundane and unremarkable life but one funded by a small private income that allowed him to wander the city and indulge a love of theatre that was expressed in his attendance at practically every theatrical opening night in Dublin for forty years. Holloway’s remarkable admission of the primacy of cinema in 1910 comes in a work that expresses the embodied experiences of the city’s earliest picture houses and juxtaposes them with this Edwardian flâneur’s involvement in Dublin’s theatrical, intellectual and political life. The diary as a whole provides an extremely rich context from which to chart the rise of cinema in Ireland in the 20th century by a man who in the 1890s edited a theatrical journal and who in the 1930s was a film censor. This paper will focus on what the diary tells us about the experiential and phenomenological aspects of Dublin first picture houses.
Dahlquist, Marina, Doron Galili, Jan Olsson and Valentine Robert