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This is Film! #6: Archival films and VR

Under the overarching theme of recycling, re-using and remixing archival film fragments, the 6th edition of Eye’s annual public lecture series This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice will showcase a broad range of creatively reused archival footage, varying from the colorization of black-and-white WWI footage, to the use of archival content in compilation and documentary films, VR or VJ performances.

Each session will cover a different approach to the theme of ‘re-use’ and will feature an introduction by Giovanna Fossati (Chief Curator at Eye and Professor of Film Heritage at the University of Amsterdam), followed by a talk by or interview and Q&A with an international expert and a screening or performance. 

The lectures are in English and can be attended as a series or on a one-off basis.

Guests: Oscar Raby (Creative Director of VRTOV), Richard Misek (Filmmaker and Senior Lecturer at the University of Kent), Charlie Shackleton (Filmmaker and Film Critic).

Screening: A Machine for Viewing (UK/AU, 2019, Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton and Oscar Raby, 360° Interactive VR) & compilation of film essays by Richard Misek and Charlie Shackleton

The closing session of This is Film! will explore the Virtual Reality medium in relation to cinema and its apparatus, focusing in particular on the screen in relation to the filmmaker and to the audience, and to the projectionist.

For this session, Eye has invited Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton and Oscar Raby to present their ‘A Machine for Viewing’ (2019), a unique hybrid of real-time VR experience, live performance, and documentary that explores how we now watch films by putting cinema and VR – an old machine for viewing and a new one – face to face. 

Beneath the audience in Cinema 2, one person wearing a VR headset is immersed in a virtual cinema. Their virtual experience is projected on the big screen of the real cinema, guided by the three makers themselves. All three are moving-image makers, but with different backgrounds. 

Episodes

Episode One, Charlie Shackleton’s ‘A Frame of the Mind’, explores the struggle of generations of filmmakers to fit the frame of their films within the rigid shape of the cinema screen. The episode allows you to play with reframing movies, dynamically adjusting the aspect ratios of films from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin to Xavier Dolan’s Mommy. 

Episode Two, ‘A Pillow of Light’ by Richard Misek, asks how close to the screen we like to sit when we go to the cinema. After allowing you to test out different vantage points, it invites you to the front row. As you approach the screen, the image gradually pixellates and dissolves into light. Moving closer still, you transcend the spatial immersion of VR entirely: your fingers become eyes and you enter into a direct communion with the screen.

Episode Three, ‘Manual for a Disassembly of Cinema’ by Oscar Raby, moves to the projection room, and the various visual technologies that coexist in it: peeling movie posters, handwritten notes, a YouTube video playing on a monitor, and a dangerously overheating projector. As light erupts from the projector’s housing, projection, image, and screen start to merge into each other, and bring the experience back to the most important part of the machine: you.

Discussion

In conversation with Eye’s Chief Curator Giovanna Fossati, the makers will discuss their work, and present a compilation programme of video essays, including ‘Frames and Containers’ (2017, Charlie Shackleton) and ‘In Praise of Blur’ (2017, Richard Misek and Martine Beugnet), which form the basis of two episodes of ‘A Machine for Viewing’.

Guests

Oscar Raby is Creative Director of VRTOV, the Melbourne-based virtual reality studio behind ‘Assent’, ‘Easter Rising’, ‘The Turning Forest’, and ‘A Thin Black Line’. Assent was named one of the top interactive documentaries of the last decade by IDFA DocLab. 

Richard Misek is a found footage Filmmaker and Academic. He is Author of the book ‘Chromatic Cinema’ (2010) and his articles have been published in numerous academic journals. He has led two UK Arts and Humanities Research Council projects on found footage and the video essay. He is the director of the feature-length essay film ‘Rohmer in Paris’ (2013). 

Charlie Shackleton Writer and Filmmaker best known for the feature-length essay films ‘Beyond Clueless’ (2014) and ‘Fear Itself’ (2016). His work has been shown at festivals including Sundance, SXSW, and Rotterdam, and on platforms including Netflix and the BBC iPlayer. As a critic, Shackleton writes regularly for The Guardian and Sight & Sound.

Eye Xtended

Eye also has a special VR programme, Xtended, in which installations by artists and filmmakers such as Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramović and Tsai Ming-liang have been presented.