Unknown pleasures: Locating desire in Sydney’s lost cinemas | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 2045-5852
  • E-ISSN: 2045-5860



As a primary site for the transmission and reception of popular visual culture, the cinema theatre occupied a very particular position for much of the twentieth century. Today these buildings maintain a strong hold on the public imagination, existing as models of both collective spectatorship and individual subjectivity that have been largely supplanted by a range of technological and social forces. This article investigates the resonances of these lost sites of spectatorship through a body of films held by the National Film and Sound Archive that document the destruction of Sydney’s cinemas from the 1960s to the 1980s. Drawing on my own recent work with this footage, the article explores the archival function of the moving image. Central to this discussion is the recognition that these filmic documents function not only as records of physical and architectural loss but also point towards a more profound sense of loss tied to the passage of a phase of spectacular consumption and ­individual subjectivity.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): architecture; archive; cinema; film; NFSA; spectatorship; Sydney
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