Friday 2 March 2018 | EFF Prelude 2 : Vers la mer (To the Sea)

Essay Film Festival Prelude 2: Vers la mer (Annik Leroy, Belgium, 1999, 87 mins)

Friday 2 March 18:00 – 21:00

In collaboration with Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture

Starting in East Germany before crossing into Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, Vers la mer (To the Sea) is a documentary-voyage filmed in black-and-white by Annik Leroy, as she traces the River Danube from its source to the estuary of the Black Sea. As the landscape changes together with national frontiers and political borders, the film offers a cinematic encounter with twentieth-century history and the everyday realities of the region and its people.

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21 June 2017| Being Ruby Rich : Film Curation as Advocacy and Activism

Being Ruby Rich: Film Curation as Advocacy and Activism

This is a co-sponsored event with Birkbeck Institute of Humanities (BiH) and Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image (BIMI)

Wednesday 21 June 2017 | 09:30-18:30

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square WC1H OPD | Map

This one-day symposium will celebrate the return of curator, critic and film activist, B. Ruby Rich, to London, where she was instrumental in the theorisation of, and advocacy for, feminist and avant-garde film in the 1970s and 1980s.

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EFF Postscript: in dialogue with Homo Sapiens

Friday 12 May 2017 | EFF Postscript : in dialogue with Homo Sapiens | Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square | 18:00-21:00

Concluding our Ruin/s theme, we are delighted to welcome everyone to our final event for a screening of Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s 2016 essayistic documentary, Homo Sapiens (2016), followed by an illustrated response from Prof. Carl Lavery (Glasgow) and in conversation with Prof. Anna Reading (King’s College, University of London).

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Myths in Research: Beliefs, Bias, and Assumptions That Shape Our Knowledge

Myths in Research: Beliefs, Bias, and Assumptions That Shape Our Knowledge 

This event is hosted as part of Arts Week 2017

Wednesday 17 May 2017, 19:40-21:00

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD | Map

‘Myths in Research’ invites research students, as well as the wider public to contemplate the role of beliefs, bias and assumptions in academic and everyday processes of knowledge production. The event is to ask where and how research is susceptible to bias, assumptions and beliefs, where this is problematic, inevitable or, in fact, productive. In giving insight into the ways in which different disciplines deal with such types of preconceptions in their research, the aim is to encourage understanding of the research processes in the humanities, arts and social sciences in general, and help research students to critically reflect on their own research experience and practice. Continue reading “Myths in Research: Beliefs, Bias, and Assumptions That Shape Our Knowledge”

Will Prentice | Ruining Preservation and Preserving the Ruins: Challenges in Archiving Sound Recordings

Thursday 27 April 2017 | Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD | 18: 00-20: 00

Join us for a talk by Will Prentice, entitled, ‘Ruining Preservation and Preserving the Ruins : Challenges in Archiving Sound Recordings’

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Owen Hatherley | Are the Ruins Really Ruined? | 17 November 2016

Park Hill Samarkanda.JPGThursday 17 November | Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD | 15:00-17:00

Join us for a talk with Owen Hatherley, entitled ‘Are the Ruins Really Ruined

The increased currency of the notion of Ruins
over the last decade or so in art, architecture and theory has frequently focused on the notion that an entire era – roughly speaking, of the ‘post-war consensus’ in one part of Europe and ‘real socialism’ in another – is so comprehensively ended that its physical remnants resemble those of a vanished civilisation.

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Anna Reading | Save As…Planet Earth: The Political Economy and Materiality of Memory in the Globital Age

Save As…Planet Earth: The Political Economy and Materiality of Memory in the Globital Age

Monday 14 March 2016 | Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square | 18:00-19:30

In this talk Prof. Anna Reading will present her latest research on the political economy and materiality of globital memory. She traces some of the commodity chains that produce friction and flows of labour, capital and materials that enable the saving of data to the cloud at hidden costs to the Earth.


Anna Reading is Professor of Culture and Creative Industries and Head of the Department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London. She has played a leading role in the developing field of cultural and media memory studies especially in relation to gender and cultural memories of genocide and terrorism. Her latest work examines how mediated and human memory is changing with the combination of globalisation and digitisation in what she terms the globital age.


Further reading |

Rare Earths and Our Insatiable Appetite for Digital Memory, The Conversation, 29 November 2013.

Timothy Edensor | Ruins Are Everywhere

Friday 23 October | 153, Malet Street | 18:00-20:00


To open our second season of events based on the theme, Ruin/s, BIRMAC is delighted to welcome Dr. Timothy Edensor, from Manchester Metropolitan University, who will give a talk entitled, ‘Ruins Are Everywhere’.


During their existence, buildings are continuously adapted to fulfil new functions and serve contemporary tastes. When this no longer pertains, ruination beckons, as maintenance ceases and buildings are abandoned. However, this maintenance obfuscates the endless processes that transform all materialities, the entropic and vital energies that change matter. In this presentation I explore three key processes that trigger accelerated ruination. Firstly, I discuss the properties of building components and the multiple agencies that assail the material world. Secondly, I investigate how questions of value determine whether a building becomes a ruin and inform human decisions based on changing political, social, economic and planning imperatives. Thirdly, I emphasise the key role of maintenance and repair in preventing ruination. I conclude by pointing out how signs of ruination litter all urban built environments to a greater or lesser extent.


Dr. Timothy Edensor is Reader in the School of Science and the Environment at Manchester Metropolitan University. His is author of several books, including Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality (2005).

Gallery of the event

This event follows the ASSC event, Architecture in Time: The Temporal Condition of Design, a one-day colloquium British Industrial Ruins Building Stone in the City of Manchester, with Ian Drew Spaces of Dereliction: Industrial Ruins in the UK.


Looking around, there is an undeniable fascination with ruins, as actual remains or as follies, as physical environments or as parts of fictional worlds.

For some ruins epitomise the ‘endtimes’ (Slavoj Žižek) in which we supposedly live, for others they speak predominantly of the past. They allow us to see the historical dimension in both culture and nature and have an apocalyptic as well as a utopian potential. It seems to me that ruins hold despair and hope in a curious balance: they speak of disaster and destruction as much as of endurance and rebirth, especially as nature, i.e. new life, takes over the crumbling remains. Ruin/s in all their various guises allow us to question fraud dichotomies and all to rigid distinctions between nature and culture, aesthetics and politics, memory and history.

Our contemporary fascination with ruin/s can be traced back to the eighteenth century and we will ask how it relates to other historical periods and how it is  distinct from these earlier cases of ‘ruinophilia’. What makes ruin/s so appealing and at the same time so uncanny? Why do we preserve them? Why do we build them? And why do we seek them out, even when they are inhospitable and foreboding?

Silke Arnold-de Simine will be curating our explorations of ‘ruin/s’ in the first year of our three years cycle. She is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies and the – at times – labyrinthine ways her research on cultural memory and museums, Gothic literature/film and the Uncanny has taken have somehow always led her back to the topic of ‘ruins’.

Image credit: Jonathan Kemp, Ryan Jordan and Martin Howse, from the Crystal World Open Laboratory Exhibition (2012)

Media Fossils and the Anthropocene: A Production of an Archaeological Future, lecture by Prof. Jussi Parikka

The Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies in association with The Hub and the Computer Arts Society are delighted to announce this lecture, which is the inaugural event for The Hub and its theme Ruin/s.

Friday 24 October 2014, 6–9pm

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

The talk focuses on the growing amount of future ruins: the media technological waste we are producing as the underbelly of the contemporary fascination for the new. This production is also one of multiple temporalities, drawing on the materiality of the earth and engaging with a future that is radically changed by the presence of the humans. The talk engages with this topic through discussing fossils as well as some examples from contemporary art.


Jussi Parikka is Professor in Technological Culture & Aesthetics at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He is the author of various books, including Digital Contagions (2007), Insect Media (2010), What is Media Archaeology? (2012) and the forthcoming, A Geology of Media (2015). A glimpse of the forthcoming work can be found already in the just published little e-book The Anthrobscene (available from University of Minnesota Press in October 2014).


The talk is now available on YouTube


Read a review of the event here: Review of Media Fossils and the Anthropocene, by Hannah Barton