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Screen Media and Archival Practices Today


Module description

This module explores the state of the contemporary audiovisual archive, as well as archival practices. It focuses on questions of epistemology and the politics of culture, of materiality and media preservation, of curatorial discourses and protocols for preservation, documentation and archiving, as well as the relationship between the archive and cityscapes, archival material and contemporary artistic practice. The content of archives - the varied audiovisual media objects held - is considered in the context of the increased mobility of images and multiplicity of platforms and screens. Threaded through the module are themes of subjectivity and identity, memory and history, performativity and materiality, intermediality and exhibition, as it considers the different ways in which archives transformed by the digital turn affect and impact on the spectatorial experience and response to the moving image and related media objects.

The module is divided into two parts. Weeks 1-6 explore the historical, conceptual and practical ways to understand the archive as an institution and way of thinking of film and media heritage. Weeks 7-11 focus on archiving, curatorial and creative practice. Throughout we will arrange visits to different media archives, including (but not guaranteed) The Bill Douglas Centre at the University of Exeter, the Huntley Archive, and the London Metropolitan Archives, as well as a field trip to Paris for an audiovisual media tour (subject to arrangement).

Indicative module content

  • Why the archive: the impulse for preservation 
  • Performing the archive: the Magic Lantern
  • Rummaging in the archive: subjective encounters of a curator-archivist/how to build an archival collection
  • Ruination, archives and loss (theories, concepts and approaches)
  • Archives, cities and the moving image: memories of media landscapes
  • Exhibiting and screening the archive
  • Artist films, essay films and subjective documentary
  • Preserving materiality and the digital: image
  • Preserving materiality and the digital: sound (invited speaker)
  • Field trips to exhibitions and archives

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • understand the politics, theories and histories that shape definitions of the contemporary audiovisual archive as an institution
  • appreciate the changing technological conditions shaping the archive and archival practice
  • understand the diversity of archival curatorial and creative practices.