Screen Media and Theory Workshop: Uncertainty, Turbulence and Moving Image Archives
Convened by Dr Annie Ring (University College London) and Dr Lucy Bollington (University College London)
This workshop will explore how experimental film and other screen media practices have engaged with concepts of uncertainty and turbulence through their use of found and mixed footage and other archival material from the mid twentieth century to the present day.
Uncertainty and turbulence are two of the defining experiences of late modernity. Despite the technological changes of the digital revolution making increasingly vast amounts of knowledge available, new possibilities for data manipulation and anxieties about a post-truth era are combining to produce a historical moment more knowledgeable and yet more uncertain than ever before. Given this context, the dubious place of the archive as authoritative store of knowledge has seemingly reached its lowest point, and yet screen media practices have continued to turn to archives of different kinds in order to grapple with uncertainties and turbulence in their aesthetic forms. At this workshop, we will reflect on contemporary phenomena of uncertainty and turbulence from a range of formal and theoretical perspectives, conceptualising these terms in relation to issues such as postproduction, post-representation, the attention economy and shifting ideas about data, the crowd and the commons. In so doing, we will place particular emphasis on how screen media work produces novel pathways into thinking about and refashioning notions of uncertainty and turbulence, and ideas about the archive in the contemporary era. The talks by academics and artists and a theoretical discussion session with pre-circulated readings will address the use of moving image archives in new screen media, including postcinema, art film and web based narratives, as well as looking back to lost footage from resistant filmmaking projects and the use of the moving image in recent alt-right media practices.
The Screen Media and Theory Workshop: Uncertainty, Turbulence and Moving Image Archives was held between the 11th and 12th June 2019 at University College London and King’s College London. It was a collaboration between three research groups: the German Screen Studies Network current research project ‘Circulating Cinema’, the Uncertain Archives international research collective and the UCL Turbulence research project. In the context of the digital revolution, with the new possibilities for data manipulation and anxieties about a post-truth era it has brought with it, the workshop considered themes of uncertainty, turbulence and the archive from the perspective of arts and humanities research, film and cultural theory in a rich and varied dialogue between academics and practitioners.
The event started with two reading workshops discussing recent publications in archive, documentary and new media theory including theorists such as Hito Steyerl, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Elisabeth Cowie. After a short introduction to the respective texts, participants formed discussion circles to engage in thought-provoking debates on the turbulence and uncertainty created by new technological and social evolutions and by changing techniques of archiving in relation to their individual research and the themes of the workshop.
During the workshop, two artists contributed talks and screenings from their moving image works. Artist and academic Rose Butler contributed a talk to the workshop, guiding listeners through her use of historical moving-image material from the Stasi archives and her experimental photography using antique spy cameras to handle contemporary surveillance problematics resulting from the UK Investigatory Powers Act. Members of the public joined participants of the workshop on the evening of 11th June for a keynote and screening by filmmaker and artivist Manu Luksch, who presented her work with found CCTV and film footage in experimental documentaries such as Faceless (2007) and Dreams Rewired (2015) and introduced her most recent film project Algo-Rhythm (2018), which draws on Senegalese rap and point cloud data visualisations and won the ZONTA Award at the Oberhausen short film festival in 2019.
The second day of the workshop took on a more classic conference format, with four panels on media theory, contemporary screen practices, right- and left-wing mobilisations of archives, data and images, and a specialist panel on the video installations of Hito Steyerl. Engaging with the impact of turbulence and uncertainty in new media, presenters touched upon virtual archives such as Instagram and reddit, topics of race and gender in new screen practices and right-wing manipulations of new internet platforms.
The workshop was made possible by funding from the University College London Global Engagement Fund, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), University College London Institute of Advanced Studies and Uncertain Archives. It was convened by Dr Annie Ring and Dr Lucy Bollington, with research assistance by Laura Lux and Franziska Noessig.
The workshop will include presentations by academic speakers working in film and screen studies, German, Latin American studies, media archaeology, philosophy, critical and cultural theory. There will also be artist talks by Rose Butler and Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeldt and a keynote by Austrian artist, activist and theorist Manu Luksch. All participants will be invited to join in a theory workshop focussed on pre-circulated readings and so contribute to collective reflection on topics of uncertainty, turbulence, the archive and screen media practices.
Research assistance by Laura Lux (King’s College London)
Artist keynote by Manu Luksch
Artists talks by Rose Butler and Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeldt
Other confirmed speakers:
Dr Daniela Agostinho (University of Copenhagen)
Dr Erika Balsom (King’s College London)
Prof Erica Carter (King’s College London)
Dr Jenny Chamarette (Queen Mary University of London)
Dr Rafael Dernbach (Futurium, Berlin)
Ece Elbeyi (University of Copenhagen)
Prof Lee Grieveson (University College London)
Dr Rhiannon Harries (University of Nottingham)
Dr Pepita Hesselberth (Leiden University)
Dr Ekaterina Kalinina (Södertörn University)
Dr Leila Mukhida (University of Cambridge)
Dr Maria Poulaki (University of Surrey)
Dr Vid Simoniti (University of Liverpool)
Dr Kristin Veel (University of Copenhagen)
The event is a collaboration between University College London School of European Languages, Cultures and Societies, the DAAD-funded Circulating Cinema Research Project, part of the German Screen Studies Network, the Uncertain Archives Research Collective and University College London Institute of Advanced Studies Turbulence Project. It is generously funded by University College London Global Engagement Funds, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), University College London Institute of Advanced Studies and Uncertain Archives.
Registration is free of charge; please register by 1 June 2019 to secure a place and receive pre-circulated readings.
The events on 11th June will run from noon, and include a theory workshop with pre-circulated readings and an evening keynote and screening by artist Manu Luksch. The events on 12th June, from 9am-5.45pm will include a series of talks by academics and artists and discussion.
Full programme to follow.
Numbers are limited for the daytime sessions on 11th and 12th June. Please register early to secure your place.
Image: Schnittstelle/Interface (1995), Harun Farocki. Courtesy of Harun Farocki GbR.