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This Is Film 2021 6 Archival Films and VR

#6: Archival films and VR

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This is Film! Film heritage in practice

The closing session of This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice explores the Virtual Reality medium in relation to cinema and its apparatus. Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton and Oscar Raby address their VR project A Machine for Viewing (2019).

poster This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice 2021


In this session, Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton and Oscar Raby address 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.

Introduction by Giovanna Fossati (Chief Curator at Eye and Professor of Film Heritage at the University of Amsterdam). Q&A in collaboration with the Master students of the This is Film! class at the University of Amsterdam.

A Machine for Viewing

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.


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.

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Persons under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult


125 min.

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#6: Archival films and VR

Part of

This is Film! 2021

This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice is a public lecture series devoted to notable projects in the fields of film restoration and film heritage. Under the overarching theme of recycling, re-using and remixing archival film(fragments), the series will showcase a broad range of creatively reused archival footage in different settings, addressing its relevance for audiences today.

The video recordings of the lectures can be found at the bottom of this page.

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