AXES OF TENSION: NAVIGATING CRAFT, INSTITUTION AND INDUSTRY AS AN ART- RESEARCHER IN FILM AND NEW MEDIAArtistic Research (AR) in collective, industrial arts can find itself to be an intense balancing act: film and new media are expensive forms that rely on commercial expectations and industrial integration, while artistic experimentation flourishes in independence and creative freedom. Transposing the model of the independent artist to large-scale collective productions challenges our vision of art, affiliation and integrity. AR researchers in film and new media can have radically different practices: from industrial creative producers to one-person camera documentarists, from VR designers to screenwriters and 3D artists. While our potential for creation and innovation is similar, our expectations and abilities are as diverse as the cost of our projects. Our contribution spans questions of affiliation, authorship, production and speculation, with the aim to bring clarification on what can be expected for and of diverse AR researchers in film and new media, and to promote the concrete establishment of appropriate support and supervision.
THE AESTHETICS AND PERCEPTION OF DOCUMENTARY FILMThe ongoing research project Gadgets, Phones and Drones at the Zurich University of the Arts investigates how innovations in camera technology have affected the visual aesthetics of documentary films since the 1990s. With specially produced variants of short films, historical paradigm shifts are being subjected to contemporary comparative analyses. Major aspects of the aesthetic change, as for instance the tendency towards a shallow depth of field, are linked to the concept of authenticity or perceived realism.
The project’s use of interdisciplinary research is oriented towards artistic research, or more precisely, towards a practice-based approach and is combined with empirical audience experiments. The dialogue between qualitative and quantitative research, also known as mixed methods, has enabled surprising new insights. However, the comparability of quantitative methods risks narrowing down the aesthetic potential of the filmic products that are used to conduct the research. In order to maintain a discriminating discourse within the practice-based approach, it is therefore advantageous to extend the study’s framework beyond a quantitative and comparative research set-up and provide specific fields for artistic investigations.
PEDAGOGICAL EXPERIMENT WITH PORTRAIT LIGHTING IN COMBINATION WITH DIFFERENT ACTOR’S INTENT IN THE CASE OF NOVICE ACTORSPortrait lighting and acting both carry substantial weight in creating character engagement by the viewer, but are rarely researched in conjunction. At the same time both acting and portrait lighting have considerable canons that have developed within the craft system and realized through tacit knowledge. Thus, as both are fields with considerable amount of knowledge and skills, but not enough scientific research conducted yet, it makes sense that the first expansion of knowledge should be conducted through artistic research. In line with Root-Bernstein's ArtScience approach that calls for processes of invention and exploration (Root-Bernstein, 2011), the current study tested out a possible model for researching the interaction between portrait lighting and acting. The current article should be considered as an analytic report on the first interdisciplinary experiment that melded together cinematography, acting, portrait lighting and pedagogy.
VIDEO ESSAYS: CURATING AND TRANSFORMING FILM EDUCATION THROUGH ARTISTIC RESEARCHThis article seeks to foster reflection on film pedagogy and research, encouraging academics to engage in artistic research and teaching methods. It specifically focuses on the video essay as a teaching and learning method, one that requires the willingness to take risks, but also, that can lead to a transformative experience in a still hierarchical educational system. The increasing openness to video essays in film journals shows an awareness of the way in which artistic research may contribute to decolonise academia. The practice of video essays leads to an inclusive, collaborative and polyphonic research environment, which dismantles the idea of a film canon. It contests the privileged position of the written ‘text’, when this is just understood as the written word. It also contributes to blurring the distance between the status of students and that of researchers. It invites them to assimilate work practices, curating and filmmaking, which sometimes happen simultaneously, curating through filmmaking. This article shares the example of the design of the video essay as a creative assessment method for two film modules in the MA Global Cinemas and the BA Creative Arts at SOAS, University of London. It stresses the importance of connecting research, practice and teaching, that is, the recursive study of film through film. It suggests that through making video essays class members become co-curators of the course, where learning is a multi-directional and collaborative experience.
TOWARDS A PARTICIPATORY APPROACH: REVERSING THE GAZE WHEN (RE) PRESENTING REFUGEES IN NONFICTION FILMLiving in Germany during the peak of the “refugee crisis”, I was bombarded with constant reporting on the topic that clearly put forth a problematic representation of refugees, contributing to rendering them a ‘problem’ and the situation a ‘crisis’. This reflects in my own film practice in which I am frequently engaging with Syrian refugees as protagonists. Our shared language and culture made it easier for us to form a connection. However, as a young filmmaker, I felt challenged and conflicted by the complexities of the ethics of representation, especially when making a film with someone who’s going through a complex institutionalized process. In this paper I explore how reflecting on my position within the filmmaking process affected my relationship with my film participants and how this reflection influenced my choice of documentary film form. In order to do that, I use what Chapman and Sawchuk (2012) refer to as “Research-from-Creation’’ where research data is generated through the production of, in this case, a short documentary titled Nudar.
CONFRONTING REALITIES - FIRST STEPS: WORKING ON CINEMATIC AUTOSOCIOBIOGRAPHIESThis paper provides a case study of the artistic research project Confronting Realities – First Steps. Working on Cinematic Autosociobiographies conducted at the Film Academy Vienna/ mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria as well as a reflection on the relationship between its research approaches, theory and criticism. Drawing from literary autosociobiographies of Ernaux (Les Années, 2008) and Éribon (Retour à Reims, 2009), the aim was to explore, describe and produce cinematic autosociobiographies - autobiographies in regard to and contextualized within the frame of social class and larger historical developments. Over the course of 10 months a multi-level project was designed and conducted to explore the format of cinematic autosociobiographies within the course “Research Project II” of MA and BA Students for Directing, Script Writing as well as Film and Media Studies. A group of 8 external performers from various backgrounds joined the project.
CONTRACTS OF MAKING, VIEWING AND LISTENING: RESEARCHING IN AND THROUGH FILMSThis paper tells the story of Contracts of making, viewing and listening, a 17-minute film that has emerged as part of my ongoing doctoral study in Artistic Research in Film. Taking the Bengal Famine of 1943 as a site-event, the doctoral research focuses on investigating and experimenting with epistemologies and ontologies of expressions emanating from a space of subalternity, especially Dalits. Contracts of making, viewing and listening can be seen as an artistic intervention into Satyajit Ray’s Distant Thunder – made in 1973, the film tells the story of effects of the Famine in rural Bengal through the eyes of a Brahmin couple. The artistic intervention was geared towards both critically reading the film from the lens of Dalit consciousness, and to explore ways of writing that critique in the language of the film itself. By retracing the journey of Contracts of making, viewing and listening, this paper focuses on how research is performed in and through the medium of film in this intervention, its multiple conceptual/material contingencies, and ultimately what it proposes in the context of artistic research.
ASYMMETRIES: ITERATIVE CINEMATIC CARTOGRAPHIESThe article functions as an exegesis for the installation project on the city titled Asymmetries (2018/19/20). The installation and its various iterations is conceived as a making-thinking-spectatorial research project on the urban premised on strategies developed through modes of artistic research. The project explores various forms of contemporary film practices in order to explore and re-imagine city life beyond the confines of teleological conceptions. In particular, the writing and its iterative explorations relates to cinema aesthetics and its political confrontation with the mono-focal conception of cinema and its projection norms. The work invites the reader momentarily suspend the position of the passive spectator and assume the position of a collaborative explorer or experimenter in various acts of cinematic cartography. The suspension of the inactive spectator position might lead to the re-examination of equivalences between the reader’s learned gaze and of epistemic prompts offered in this artistic research project on the city.