Times of Distance. Researching and Transmitting Film and Media History under/against Covid-19
Fachhochschule Potsdam/Universität Potsdam
Università degli Studi di Udine
The recent shift from studying and teaching to online procedures under the influence of the Corona crisis presented all participants with a variety of challenges. What began in the spring of 2020 as real experiments at universities and schools around the world occupies the newly created free space of the social state of emergency with processes of hardware, software and platforms. This change continues to this day: as a multitude of interface processes and effects. Observing and discussing them poses a challenge of its own. Under this main umbrella, the Film and Media Heritage section, during a online one-day workshop, would like to stress some issues and topics related the modalities of production and transmission historical knowledge at the time of distance. Every form of historical research and historiography has always meant to deal with several and contradictory temporalities and distances (Ginzburg); with temporal and spatial vectors and carriers in terms of separation and gaps from the historical phenomenons investigated; with stratifications and grammatizations of the documentary traces on which the historical research is based (Derrida, Foucault), and finally with technologies and interfaces which mediate the relationship between the historian and the scientific and cultural dissemination of historical knowledge (Chun, Winthrop-Young).
During the Workshop, the organizers would like to discuss and develop further the above mentioned main ideas along three directions: a) archives/festival: the relationships, engagement rules and practices established and developed between film archives and festivals (film history and film heritage-centered) according to the Covid-19 paradigm; b) digital interfaces: the programmatic conditions (i.e. based on programmability and realizing programs), materialities, and effects of moving teaching and learning to online procedures; c) heritage education: how to deal with the concept of materiality and to tackle with the archival practices in a training and teaching context when the social distancing prevent any experimental, hands-on approach to the archival artefacts? Could the historical, metaphorical and operational concept of “distance” highlight and reveal some limits and fallacies behind the current approaches to the representations and histories of film and media materialities?
Pandemic Venues. Curating Historical Festival and Conferences under the Covid-19 Paradigm
cinefest – International Festival of German Film Heritage is an annual on-site festival in Hamburg (Germany) combined with the International Film History Conference. Usually parts of the festival program later move through several European cities (including Filmforum in Gorizia). Apart from exploring new and forgotten areas of film history, the festival provides a prominent showcase for archives which preserve and restore the treasures of German or German related Cinema. The aim is also to create a forum for academics, students, archivists, technicians and film buffs to exchange information and discuss new developments. As everywhere the 2020 edition has been different. The organization of cinefest and conference have been challenged by the worldwide Pandemic. During the Workshop we (the organizing team of cinefest) would like to discuss the pros and cons of translating an analog based event into the digital space, as well as emphasize how the pandemic situation has influenced the presentation and discussion of film heritage.
Erika Wottrich studied Media science and New German Literature in Marburg. Since 1998 she works for CineGraph – Hamburgisches Centrum für Filmforschung, since 2004 as manager. Co-organizer of cinefest and the International Film History Conferences. Co-editor of several CineGraph Books (e.g.: “Deutsche Universal”, 2001, “M wie Nebenzahl”, 2002, “Ach, sie haben ihre Sprache verloren“, 2017 “Filmpionier und Mogul”, 2019).
Swenja Schiemann has studied Art and Media Studies as well as Sociology with a major focus on film. Since 2013 she works for CineGraph and is part of the organizing team of cinefest. Apart from coordination and research her work included the curation of the cinefest exhibitions from 2013 to 2018. She is co-editor of the cinefest DVD edition and of the CineGraph book. In these series last appeared the book “Filmpionier und Mogul. Das Imperium des Joe May” (edition text+kritik 2019) and the Blu-ray/DVD “Das indische Grabmal” (Eye See Movies / AV-Visionen 2019).
Distant Participation. Studying, Teaching, and Research under Programmatic Conditions
Outsourcing the procedures of studying, teaching and research to online platforms in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant and still means a change that can be understood as large set of experimental arrangements (Rheinberger). Interfaces play a decisive role in these experiments: interfaces between hardware and software, which put computers and their network and platform processes into action, as well as user interfaces, which bring people into contact with them and convey what this can be: video conferences. In this context, the lecture is dedicated to the software/platform “Zoom” and asks about levels and effects of interface processes. Far from being mere instruments or channels, platforms like “Zoom” constitute and shape new forms of (not only) academic encounter and exchange.
Jan Distelmeyer is professor of media history and media theory in the European Media Studies program of the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences and the University of Potsdam. Main areas of interest include the history and theory of digitality and computerization, interfaces as operational relations, computer games, and the history of film. Recent publications include “From object to process. Interface politics of networked computerization”, in: Jorge Luis Marzo Pérez (ed.): After the post-truth, Barcelona, 2019, "Drawing Connections: How Interfaces Matter“, in: Interface Critique, Vol. 1, 2018, and Machtzeichen. Anordnungen des Computers, Berlin, 2017. More: http://distelmeyer.emw-potsdam.de
The Unattainable Materiality. Notes on Historical Distances and Archival Artefacts
At present, neither students, teachers nor scholars can enjoy a sensory or hands-on experience of cinematic material culture. At the same time, the distancing restrictions have boosted the use of many devices, such as document cameras, displays, live recordings, collaborative networks, common repositories, etc. Paradoxically, teaching archival practices and historical artefacts at a distance has opened a great deal of opportunities.
Hence, I would like to deal with the relationship between materiality, historical distance and the representation of archive artefacts. To do so, I will outline this relationship following three different and entangled frameworks: the first is historical, the second is educational, and the third combines a constructivist and media-archaeological approach.
Simone Venturini is professor in Film Studies at the University of Udine. His research interests revolve around the cultural history and practices of the film's archives; preservation and restoration of film; archeology and history of media and non-theatrical cinema; economic-productive, cultural and technological history of Italian cinema. Until 2014 he was responsible for the conservation projects of the La Camera Ottica laboratory (Gorizia). He is the scientific coordinator of the FilmForum Udine International Film and Media Studies Conference and of the Magis International Film and Media Studies Spring School. He is a member of the editorial board of "Immagine" Journal. His articles have appeared in main journals including "Cinéma & Cie", "Bianco e Nero", "Immagine", "Journal of Film Preservation". He authored the monographs "Horror Italiano" (Donzelli, 2005) and "Il cinema francese negli anni di Vichy"(Mimesis, 2017).