Feb 2, 2014

Learning from the film qua film: "informational arcana"

Among the presenters at the 9th Orphan Film Symposium will be Concordia University associate professor of communications studies Matt Soar, who will talk about and demonstrate his Lost Leaders project.

His media-rich website officially calls the project "Lost Leaders: Found Footage and the Metadata of Film (2011 - )." It's both scholarly research and artistic creation (and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada). 

The site's précis makes it clear why this is an ideal thing for both the Orphan Film Project in general and the 2014 symposium, The Future of Obsolescence, in particular. 
Lost Leaders is an ongoing creative and critical exploration of commercial film leaders and found footage. It treats leaders as informational arcana; aesthetically rich 'paratextual' elements in/of the medium of film, akin in some ways to the metadata of digital photographs and moving images. Through various processes of recombination -- lightbox collages, microscopic stopmotion animation, microscopic video meanderings -- Matt Soar scrutinizes the various markings (logos, lab notes, handwriting, type, projection cues) that are doubly 'lost' due to their routine invisibility from the audience, and their impending obsolescence. [Emphasis added.]
Soar's integration of deep research and artistic production is as good an example as any of how the Canadian academy facilitates the blend of the two, recognizing that knowledge and research can be found in creative work (a documentary, a film, a website, a DVD) as well as traditional books. The term at Concordia is "research-creation." The great experimental documentarian (and longtime Orphan Film Symposiast) Caroline Martel, for example, is a "research-creation PhD candidate" in Soar's department. Et voilà -- one can get a PhD without writing a dissertation of the sort required by, say, NYU Cinema Studies. 

To see how this plays out beyond the Lost Leaders example, go to ARC: Adventures in Research/Creation, which Soar co-directs: www.A-R-C.ca. There you will notice another key collaborator is Phil Hoffman, long known within the  experimental film world for "Phil's Film Farm," a summer artists' retreat where filmmakers shoot and hand-process the films they make on-site. The late Carolinian-Canadian media artist Helen Hill made films there in 1999, 2000, and 2002, when she was emerging as a quietly influential filmmaker. Super 8 maestro John Porter has written about her time there. Worth noting here: the first Orphan Film Symposium in New York (Orphans 6, in 2008), began with an evening-long tribute to Helen, which included Porter's short Phil's Film Farm (2002, with an on-screen dedication to her). It also was the occasion for the awarding of the first Helen Hill Awards

Here's a look at Soar's Lost Leaders #1 (2011-12), which he said in his Orphans 9 proposal "began as an experiment in hand-weaving together strands of 16mm found footage."

There's a lot to be learned about the history of film by closely examining the hundreds of different components found on leaders.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.