Film + history
Poster (konferens), 2007
What is authenticity in the 21st century? – The practice-based research project “Toward a poetics of the documentary” takes the filmmaker’s craft as a point of departure for its thematization of fundamental questions concerning the moving image and its current metamorphosis into a digital medium – a process where our notions of event and memory, of peception and reconstruction, of history, identity and power, will have to prove their continuing significance once more.
The image, in all its different forms, has always been seen as double: it is both record and representation, presence as well as absence. Far from invalidating this perennial tension, recent innovations in the production and reproduction of moving images keep us walking the razor’s edge. Admittedly, digitization is often seen as upsetting or even annulling the balance between record and representation in benefit of an exclusive emphasis on the signifier over what it signifies, on expression over content, and on style as an autonomous reality. Yet, the the power of the image as evidence is still very much in evidence – more so, perhaps, than ever.
In practice, our point of departure are the so called ‘Vasaplatsen shootings’ on June 15, 2001 – an incident which takes place in connection with the political demonstrations surrounding the EU summit and the American president’s visit to Göteborg, where an activist is seriously injured in a violent confrontation with the Swedish police. Dozens of cameras were there at the time, their images instantly reproduced in the press, on television and over the Internet – and in the ensuing legal process, the prosecutor’s side utilized film as evidence. But how, and with what intention, was the material edited?
My role within the project is to let history throw an oblique light on the practical and theoretical issues that this question gives rise to. Thus, the concepts and problems of practice-based research are confronted with the history of film, as well as of film theory, in a historiographic reflection with Siegfried Kracauer, the exiled German film critic, as a key partner in conversation. How does film contribute to our understanding of history and of the past? And which are the possibilities for practice-based research in this regard?
The project “Toward a poetics of the documentary” will result in a DVD production which, in its assemblage of text, still image and film, also tries out new forms of presentation for academic research. By mid-2008 on a website close to you!