2018 – Panel 5

Chair: Su-Anne Yeo

  1. Archiving and Researching the “Event Cinema” Experience: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities (Su-Anne Yeo, Emily Carr University of Art + Design)
  2. 404 File not Found: Where are film web sites archived? (Kim Walden, University of Hertfordshire)
  3. History Decays into Images not Stories: A Journey with Walter Benjamin from Future to Past (Nazare Soares, NTNU)
  4. Sequestered Collections: Access and Cultural Value in Moving Image Archives (Angela English, Birmingham City University)

Archiving and Researching the “Event Cinema” Experience: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities

Su-Anne Yeo

This paper proposes to think through some of the methodological implications of researching what has come to be known as “event cinema,” the live broadcasting into cinemas of opera, theatre, ballet, even sport. To date, much attention on processes of digital distribution and exhibition and their impact on the cinema has focused on the development of online platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. Less attention has focused on the influence of new technologies on the classical site of film exhibition—the movie theatre—and the possibilities for reinvigorating cinema-going as a situated, social, and sensory experience.

Building upon recent work of scholars such Sarah Atkinson and Helen Kennedy (2017), Karin van Es (2017), and Suk-Young Kim (2017), the paper asks what new, or existing, methodologies might be required for studying phenomena such as “event cinema,” phenomena that mix the archivable and the experiential in unexpected ways. It uses the case of the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinemas which launched in 2010 and now reaches more than 1,000 cinemas in 50 countries around the globe. In particular, the paper analyzes the institutional and discursive practices through which the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinemas constructs, and deconstructs, the notion and experience of liveness itself.

By analyzing the role of the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema’s broadcast host, Katerina Novikova, for example, and by comparing it to the role of the film lecturer in early cinema, it questions what lessons the study of early cinema might have for the study of digital cinema today.

Su-Anne Yeo is a sessional instructor in media history and theory at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. She completed a PhD in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2016 and is currently developing a monograph based on her thesis entitled, Alternative Screen Cultures in Asia Pacific, for Amsterdam University Press. Her output includes publications on various aspects of screen distribution and exhibition, and her book chapter, “Translating the Margins: New Asian Cinema, Independent Cinema, and Public Culture at the Hong Kong Asian Film Festival,” from the edited collection, Chinese Film Festivals: Sites of Translation, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in spring 2017.

404 File not Found: Where are film web sites archived?

Kim Walden

The internet is now a key medium for film marketing and websites are routinely used for trailer releases, curated media coverage as well as ‘making of…’ features. Moreover, these websites are contributing more than just promotion to the contemporary film ‘experience’; they undertake narrative ‘work’ to bridge the gaps between prequels and sequels; provide story world settings and anticipatory clues to whet audience appetites for forthcoming releases, to the extent that there is now a considerable blurring of the boundaries between the narrative content and marketing (Grainge and Johnson, 2015: 4).

In contrast to the film itself which, once it has journeyed through its release windows will be accessible on DVD or Blu-ray, the fate of the film website is more precarious. Sites may be locked, taken down and disappear altogether from the public domain, and this ephemerality jeopardises the possibility of critical appraisal. Over the last 20 years, the first generation of film websites have come and gone, so many are no longer available to view, therefore, their role remains largely unacknowledged, their development uncharted, and their history untold.

In setting out to develop a better knowledge and understanding of these unsung artefacts, the paper considers the online archives where film websites have been collected and/or preserved including the Internet Archive, award archives and blogs. It goes onto reflect on how archival practices shape the preservation of web-born artefacts and what light this investigation may throw on digital archive practices in the 21st century?

Kim Walden is a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Cultures at the University of Hertfordshire. Recent published work includes ‘Nostalgia for the Future: How Tron: Legacy’s Paratextual Campaign rebooted the Franchise’ in The Politics of Ephemeral Digital Media edited by Sara Pesce and Paolo Noto (Bloomsbury, 2016); and ‘Archaeology of Mobile Film: Blink, Bluevend, and the Pocket Shorts’ in Compact Cinematics: The Moving Image in the Age of Bit-sized Media edited by Pepita Hesselberth and Maria Poulaki (Routledge, 2017); and ‘Searching for D-9.com in the archives: An archaeology of a film’s website’ in Archives of the Digital : a themed issue of Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2017. Kim has just completed her doctoral thesis titled ‘Film Web Sites 1994-2014: A Media Archaeology’ which investigates the new generation of digital archives seeking to preserve our nascent web culture.

History Decays into Images not Stories: A Journey with Walter Benjamin from Future to Past

Nazare Soares

This paper will examine useful methodologies to apply when approaching the role of moving image practices in relation to the archive and discuss the archives relation to past, present and future memories. This will be done through analysis of the writings of Walter Benjamin and the films of Andrei Ujica and Juan Daniel Molero. With reference to Benjamin’s philosophical theories of history and art, particularly “The Arcades Project” it will discuss his notion of the mosaic and the role of the collector, outlining key methodological points. Benjamin’s theories will be discussed in the context of Andrei Ujica’s The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (2010) and Juan Daniel Molero’s Reminiscencias (2010). Additional support to this discussion will be provided by the works of Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze. It will conclude that the moving image artist must fulfil a variety of roles in order to best make use of the archive. By strict application of methodology and detailed investigation of the fragmented nature of the archive, it is possible to construct stories in the present from the historical constellation of images. By engaging with our contemporary roles as archivists we can influence the archive of the future. History is a mosaic under constant construction.

When discussing the use of the archive in contemporary film practices, it is commonplace for the filmmaker to be assigned many roles; as historian, archaeologist, anthropologist, historical novelist, journalist… The reality is that when dealing with archive material, the moving image artist fulfills many, if not all, of these roles and must show the capacity to shift between them. The thoughts and works of Walter Benjamin offer interesting perspectives for filmmakers when dealing with the trace of history in their work. He develops methodologies that enable artists to understand their multiple functions and roles as collectors and allegorists.

Nazare Soares (Spain), granted a Masters Degree in Fine Art from Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2017. She graduated from Brighton University with a First-class degree in Moving Image Arts in 2014; as part of this course, she spent three months studying in Ramallah at the Academy of Art of Palestine. She spent a year from 2006 living and working in Tokyo, after which she moved to Brighton. Currently, she is the co-founder of the Art Association Invisibledrum based in Norway. Her work has been exhibited at numerous art venues and festivals worldwide, including amongst others, Art & Science Museum of Singapore, Metamorf Art & Technology Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art of Ethiopia, Brighton Museum, Indian Habitat Centre, Trondheim Kunstmuseum and Sonar Music & Technology Festival of Barcelona.

Sequestered Collections: Access and Cultural Value in Moving Image Archives

Angela English

Archivists, practitioners and curators face particular challenges in working with ‘pre-digital’ moving image archive material in terms of access, especially if this material is not part of an ’official’ archive. Public engagement with archive film has been ongoing for some years in various organisations, both nationally and locally particularly using film for memory work with older people. However a systematic critique of different practice models has not been undertaken to date particularly in terms of understanding of outcome.

This paper will focus on the early findings of my recent pilot study into working practices around archive film involving in depth interviews with archivists and practitioners. The aim of the pilot study and continuing research is to provide a critique of current use of archive film for public history engagement, what models are being employed and what role is played by film archivists and to relate these insights to the wider context of use of archive film. The paper will explore issues of access and cultural value, two areas of concern for participants in the study including the notion of the ‘sequestered collection’ (Prelinger, 2007) where access to material may be restricted by copyright maximalism, policy or indifference. The paper will also look at how archivists in the study understand tensions around both preserving and making accessible moving image material.

Angela English is a 2nd year Midlands 3 Cities /AHRC funded PhD researcher at Birmingham City University. Her research focuses on how archive film might play a role in public history practice and audience engagement. The aim of the pilot study and continuing research is to provide a systematic critique of current use of archive film for public history engagement, what models are being employed and what role is played by film archivists and to relate these insights to the wider context of use of archive film. She has previously worked in film education at the British Film Institute and from 2006-2015, was Research and Development Officer for the London Screen Study Collection at Birkbeck College, University of London, as well as holding an Associate Lectureship in Film and Media.