Cinema is dead. At least, it is now in its afterlife or even its reincarnation. Cinema is/was the worlds produced using the tools of analogue motion picture expression. If they are gone then so too has Cinema.
“To employ those instruments that have just been born (Colour photography and Cinematography) in order to capture and conserve the facts of the planet which are about to die” Jean Brunhes 1912 (museum Alfred Kahn)
“To employ those instruments that are about to die to capture and conserve those things which have just been born.” Nachleben 2015
My project is to use the creative environment of a film lab and archive to produce, devise and develop creative projects and works of Art
As such it forms a kind of experimental media archaeology;
“Experimental media archaeology is inspired by the idea of historical re-enactment, acknowledging the historian’s (the experimenter’s) role as a co-constructor of the epistemic object. Experimental media archaeology is driven by a desire to produce experimental knowledge regarding past media usages, developments and practices. To do so it will be practical as well as philosophical, empirical as well as theoretical, conceptual as well as experimental, drawing from psychology as well sociology, ethnography as well as cultural anthropology, image theory as well as history. Lastly, experimental media archaeology has an archival drive: it aspires to use the immense collections of media apparatuses (l’appareil de base) waiting in film and other archives for further research.”
Andreas Fickers and Annie van den Oever (Techne/Technology. AUP 2014)
I say a ‘kind of’ because my final output is not knowledge, academic knowledge or anything that sits outside of a creative action or production.
For me the purpose of a camera is to put film in it and shoot. The purpose of cinema is to screen that film. The purpose of an archive is to collect those films and others and the technologies and techniques of their realisation together to form a body that can be passed onto proceeding generations.
(illustration from Ernest Lindgren’s ‘The Art Of Film’ 1948)
Nachleben Experimental Film Lab and Archive (NEFLA) is a project that houses all of my current interests. Although I work presently alone amidst a growing pile of machinery and other things I am really a collaborator having founded and helped develop the Cube Cinema in Bristol. over twenty years ago. The reason I am alone is because there is a madness, a fanaticism and a uncontrollable burning drive behind collecting and caring for these old machines. You need to be possessed by something or someone. In my case, the ghosts of the past all speak to me through this camera, or that printer or those lenses.
In many senses I am first and foremost a film maker. When I see collections of apparatus (but please not behind glass, if it is behind glass I will cry) I don’t see history. I see the future. I see the gear necessary to make films and show them, perhaps the definition of cinema. There is no need to STOP! Why do we stop, and look back? Yes, we can look back and understand anew, but if we also stop using these machines then we contribute to the end of cinema. We ushered in the end of cinema the minute we started making intellectual arguments about the death of cinema.
Some preliminary AIMS of the Lab.
I am currently undertaking a practice based and led MRes (research MA) with UWE and my main focus is on these questions:
How can film as memory technology define an artists archive project? (or How / Is film a technology of memory, a set of techniques developed in order that societies might remember?)
How and why (and if) changes in the value of films takes place once they are incorporated into the establishment of a meta-archive (or once they are incorporated into an archive or that orders its parts by resembling the ‘institution of their importance?)
How can it (film) ‘address’ the future in any specific and precise way, beyond the concrete fact that every kind of utterance and enunciation, to find a reader or subject, must address and construct the future?
If found footage use is a kind of remembering, an active type of memorialising operation what happens if footage is placed, or planted, contrived or artificial? How will it be taken up, collected, reused, remembered, altered?