From now through April, the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival will present “Film Studies in Motion”, a Web Series curated by Volker Pantenburg and Kevin B. Lee. This series, available on the festival’s website and Facebook page, presents weekly selections of analytical video essays on the web, in preparation for Pantenberg and Lee’s presentation “Whatever happened to Bildungsauftrag? – Teaching cinema on TV and the Web”, scheduled for April 28 at the festival.
Week Four: Precursors: TV, Cinema, Contemporary Art
There is a a tradition of “Videographic Film Studies” that existed before the Internet. Some TV channels, like the West-German WDR, but also TV programmers in other countries, initiated an impressive variety of programmes on cinema that combined thorough analytical observations with an inventiveness of visual forms and techniques. Found footage has also been used in experimental cinema and contemporary art. Most examples of this audiovisual legacy remain either overlooked or invisible as they are stacked away in archives or private catalogues. For this reason, this episode mostly gathers fragments and snippets instead of entire essays.
A major figure in the genre of essay film and video, Harun Farocki combines a precise formalist analysis of images with exhaustive research into the history behind those images. Farocki does not merely use archival images to tell stories of modern society, but shows how images convey unexpected stories and meanings, often unintentionally by their creators. In this clip from Workers Leaving the Factory, he uses the first film ever shown on screen to launch into a visual exploration of how factories have been depicted throughout the 20th century, and what those images say about our relationship to industrial labor.