Research in progress by Joanna Callaghan for the fourth long format film in the series ‘Ontological Narratives’ which will take Jacques Derrida‘s epistolary novel The Post Card as starting point.
In this research film, the possibility of a deconstructive film is discussed with world leading experts on Derrida using a range of clips as counterpoints.
Ontological Narratives is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project led by Callaghan in collaboration with Martin McQuillan. [Also see ‘The Post Card – Adaptation‘; for more on this project see here and here]. See also Callaghan and McQuillan’s important film on the current convulsive state of UK Higher Education, “I melt the glass with my forehead“.
We can therefore turn this [film theory/film practice divide] debate into an explicitly philosophical issue, by not presupposing that knowing that and knowing how simply overlap; they are two different types of knowledge whose relationship needs to be thought through. It is the theorization of the link/overlap between the two types of knowledge that seems to be missing. [Warren Buckland, Film-Philosophy Discussion List, January 31, 2012]
[The debate about film theory and practice] has a history which, in the UK at least, goes back to the 1970s, when the art colleges taught experimental film making, and the then polytechnics and a few new universities began to include film-making in their undergraduate film courses. Film theory as such was still taking shape, and video was in its earliest stages. In an atmosphere charged with radical intellectual fervour, the theoretical input led to much experimentation in colleges of creative practice—the watchword of the time was deconstruction. The paradigm for the infusion of theory into practice could be found in the work, for example, of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, who established themselves on screen and on page, together and separately, as leading denizens of both. Some of the people emerging from this habitus made the break and went on to successful careers in the mainstream, but independent film-making informed by theoretical critique remained in the margins. [Michael Chanan, ‘Revisiting the Theory/Practice Debate’, Putney Debater, February 15, 2012 (hyperlinks added)]
Audiovisual works, it may be argued – films, videos or some other form – are already discursively articulated, they not only incorporate language (as dialogue, voice-over, intertitle, and so on) but are quasi-linguistic in their very form. The analogy between language and cinema, for example, has been explored with particular rigour in structuralist film theory, not least in the work of Christian Metz. It might be argued that if audiovisual forms are inherently discursive, then an intellectual argument can equally well be presented in the form of a film or video as in a more conventional written form. [Victor Burgin, ‘Thoughts on ‘research’ degrees in visual arts departments’, Journal of Media Practice, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2006] (hyperlink added)]
The misgivings about the legitimacy of practice-based research degrees in the creative and performing arts arise mainly because people have trouble taking research seriously which is designed, articulated and documented with both discursive and artistic means. The difficulty lurks in the presumed impossibility of arriving at a more or less objective assessment of the quality of the research – as if a specialised art forum did not already exist alongside the academic one, and as if academic or scientific objectivity itself were an unproblematic notion. In a certain sense, a discussion is repeating itself here that has already taken place (and still continues) with respect to the emancipation of the social sciences: the prerogative of the old guard that thinks it holds the standard of quality against the rights of the newcomers who, by introducing their own field of research, actually alter the current understanding of what scholarship and objectivity are. [Henk Borgdorff, ‘The debate on research in the arts’, The Sensuous Knowledge Project, 2006]
And so begins a mini-series of posts here at Film Studies For Free on the practical possibilities for, and the critical debates about, audiovisual film studies research and ‘publication’.
Below, in this first instalment, FSFF links to freely-accessible, online resources relating to the notion of film practice as a form of film/video theorising, in other words, as a reflexive and/or affective meditation on the ontological qualities of film or video (a ‘felt framing‘, in Julian Klein‘s great phrase to describe artistic research). It’s certainly a good excuse to showcase some of the burgeoning, open access work (and open access publications, or free publishers’ samples) in the very healthy field of Moving Image Practice as Research (aka ‘Research by Practice’ or ‘Practice-Led research).
Some studies of Practice-Led Research
- Desmond Bell, ‘Is there a doctor in the house? A riposte to Victor Burgin on practice-based arts and audiovisual research’, Journal of Media Practice, 9.2, 2008
- Michael A.R. Biggs, “The Role of ‘the Work’ in Research” (Paper presented at the PARIP 2003 Conference, 11-14 September 2003.) Bristol, UK
- Christin Bolewski, ‘Practice as Research: Philosophy and Aesthetics of Chinese Landscape Painting Applied to Contemporary Western Film and Digital Visualisation Practice’, The Art of Research Processes, Results and Contributions, Conference at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, 24 – 25 November 2009
- Henk Borgdorff, ‘The debate on research in the arts’, The Sensuous Knowledge Project, 2, 2006
- Henk Borgdorff, ‘The Conflict of the Faculties On Theory, Practice and Research in Professional Arts Academies’, Revised Version of ‘The Conflict of the Faculties: on Sense and Nonsense in Art Research) in the arts, culture and policy journal’, Boekman (58/59, Spring 2004, p. 191-96
- Victor Burgin, ‘Thoughts on ‘research’ degrees in visual arts departments’, Journal of Media Practice, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2006
- Michael Chanan, ‘Revisiting the Theory/Practice Debate’, Putney Debater, February 15, 2012
- Charlotte Crofts, ‘Bluebell, Short Film and Feminist Film Practice As Research: Strategies for Dissemination and Peer Review’, a pre-print of an article in Journal of Media Practice, 2007 (See an excerpt from this work here)
- Steve Dixon, ‘Digits, Discourse, and Documentation: Performance Research and Hypermedia’, The Drama Review 43, 1 (T161), Spring 1999
- Julian Klein, ‘The Other Side of the Frame, Artistic Experience as Felt Framing: Fundamental principles of an artistic theory of relativity’, originally in: S. Flach and J. Söffner, (eds.), Habitus in Habitat II – Other Sides of Cognition (Bern: Peter Lang, 2010)
- Friederike Krishnabhakdi-Vasilakis, ‘Transforming the Rhetoric: Making Images as Practice-Led Research’, ACUADS 2009 CONFERENCE: Interventions in the Public Domain
- Nicholas Rowe and Susan Carter, ‘Ways of Knowing: PhDs with creative practice’, MAI Review, 2011, 2, Te Kokonga
- Deborah Smith-Shank and Karen Keifer-Boyd, ‘Editorial: AutoEthnography and Arts-Based Research’, Visual Culture and Gender, Vol. 2, 2007
- Lindsay Vickery, ‘The Problem of Objectivity and the Artistic Conception of the Participant Observer: thoughts on using Lacan’s psychological model of representation in the documentation of creative arts practice as research’, Creative Connections Symposium @ BEAP2004
- Helen L. Yeates, ‘Embedded engagements: the challenge of creative practice research to the humanities’, The International Journal of the Humanities, 7(1), 2009. pp. 139-147
Two Open Access journals for AV/media practice work:
- The Journal of Media practice: SCREENWORKS (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 [on AVPhD practice work])
- The Journal for Artistic Research
Two free publishers journal samples:
- Sar Maty Ba and Will Higbee, ‘Free Content Re-presenting diasporas in cinema and new (digital) media: Introduction’
- Hamid Naficy, ‘Free Content Multiplicity and multiplexing in today’s cinemas: Diasporic cinema, art cinema, and mainstream cinema’
- John Akomfrah, ‘Free Content Digitopia and the spectres of diaspora’
- Rajinder Dudrah, ‘Free Content Haptic urban ethnoscapes: Representation, diasporic media and urban cultural landscapes’
- Edward George and Anna Piva, ‘Free Content Astro Dub Morphologies’
- Roshini Kempadoo, ‘Free Content Interpolating screen bytes: Critical commentary in multimedia artworks’
- Coco Fusco, ‘Free Content Operation Atropos’
- Erika Balsom, ‘Brackhage’s Sour Grapes’ on the place of experimental cinema in the contemporary museum
- David E. James, ‘Letter to Paul Arthur’ on the relationship between ‘hipster’ cinema and private sponsorship.
- Sean Cubitt, Daniel Palmer and Les Walkling, ‘Reflections on Medium Specificity Occasioned by the Symposium “Digital Light: Technique, Technology, Creation”, Melbourne, 2011′.
- Maeve Connolly, ‘Apperception, Duration and Temporalities of Reception: The Repetition Festival Show’ on the Dublin show.
- Nick Fitch and Anne-Sophie Dinant, ‘The emergence of Video Art in Brazil in the 1970s’.
- Maria Walsh, ‘Re- enacting Cinema at the Crossroads: Nicky Coutt’s Passing Place‘
- Round Table Discussion on ‘The affects of the abstract image in film and video art’ chaired by Maxa Zoller with contributions from Bridget Crone, Nina Danino, Jaspar Joseph-Lester, RUBEDO (Vesna Petresin Robert and Laurent-Paul Robert).
- Eu Jin Chua, ‘The Film-work Recomposed into Nature: From Art to Noise in Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds’ on recent work by Manon de Boer.
- JJ Charlesworth on ‘Doug Fishbone: Elmina’ at Tate Britain.
- Pryle Behrman on ‘David Claerbout: The Time that Remains’ at Wiels Contemporary Art, Brussels.
- Catherine Elwes on ‘Peter Campus: Opticks’ at BFI Southbank Gallery, London.
- Claire Flannery on ‘Miroslaw Balka: Between Honey and Ashes’ at Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin.
- Honor Beddard on Hilary Lloyd at Raven Row, London.
- Colin Perry on ‘Modern Women: Single Channel’ at MOMA PS1, New York.
- Adam Kossoff on ‘William Raban: About Now MMX’, Tate Modern and touring.
- Michael Szpakowski review of ‘One Minute Volumes 1-4′, DVD series touring internationally.
- Alice Haylett Bryan, book review of ‘Hiroshima After Iraq: Three Studies in Art and War’ by Rosalyn Deutsche (Columbia University Press).