From the invention of geometrical perspective onwards images have, in a Western context, been characterized by a specific politics and epistemological ambition. Solidified by the invention of the camera, “our” images have separated the observer from the observed, the mind from the body, allowing for what has been considered a “neutral” observation. “New images” (i.e. images produced with emerging digital visual technologies) are today posing a challenge to such conventions. Relational, material, haptic and immersive by nature, such images go hand in hand with new image-making practices characterized by non-linearity, interactivity, participativity and immersivity. The present paper explores this emerging terrain in the context of the documentary form. Moving back and forth in space time, hence comparing image-making practices that belong to different cultures and epochs, the paper will explore the key political and epistemological challenges of the documentary image in the contemporary digital habitats.
Paolo Favero is Associate Professor in Film Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Antwerp. A visual anthropologist with a PhD from Stockholm University, Paolo has devoted the core of his career to the study of visual culture in India. Presently he conducts research on image-making, politics and technology in contemporary India as well as on questions of ontology and methodology in the context of emerging digital visual practices and technologies at global level.
Archiveology is a critical language of images. It designates the potential of archival film practices to rethink historical knowledge. Walter Benjamin is frequently cited in discussions of found footage and media archives because his historiography is based on a non-linear conception of correspondences between past and future. The shock of the moment produced through montage is for Benjamin, a technique of awakening. Once fragments of fiction film become documents of fashion and architecture, and fragments of documentary become recognizable as performance, a dynamic new language of history emerges. Archiveology teaches us that history does not need to be written. It can also be constructed, cut and pasted together, as the archive lends itself to practices of searching and collecting, and the materialist historian is one who respects the piecemeal construction of historical experience. If history breaks down into images, archiveology is a means of engaging those images as pieces of collective memory from which new futures can be known.
Catherine Russell is Professor of Film Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She is the author of four books, including Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video (Duke, 1999).
Based on the archives of the state of Israel and those of filmmaker Leo Hurwitz, Sylvie Lindeperg’s talk examines both the unprecedented decision to videotape the Eichmann trial in its entirety and the subsequent negotiations between broadcasting executive Milton Fruchtman, the Israeli government, and the judges in charge of the case. Her study of Hurwitz’s preparation for the trial sheds light on his intentions and his expectations. Her analysis of the recorded documents reveals the principal tropes in the scenario and underscores the disparity between the filmmaker’s preconceptions and the material reality of the event. In pursuing these lines of investigation, her talk explores the interaction between judicial ritual and TV drama as well as the unavoidable influence of the recording itself.
Sylvie Lindeperg is a historian and a member of the Institut Universitaire de France. She is professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She is the author of several books, including: Les Ecrans de l’ombre ; Clio de 5 à 7 ; La Voie des images ; Nuit et Brouillard. Un film dans l’histoire.