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  • Gathering in the Orphans: Essay Films and Archives in the Information Age

Kay, Olivia Lory, 2010, Thesis, Gathering in the Orphans: Essay Films and Archives in the Information Age MPhil thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This research proposes that the essay film, through its reflective and fragmentary approach to structuring text, moving image and sound, and its mediation between filmmaker and audience as a part of the way it ‘thinks through’ its material, presents both a distinct method, as well as a unique history, from which to contextualise the changes the information age brings to cinema. Essay films, archives and the information age seems on first glance an odd assemblage of terms to bring together. Essay films usually are fixed with adjectives such as difficult, peripheral, intellectual and personal; archives are about the past and connote all manner of things analogue (even if the interface to them is digital); the archive is filled with reels, tapes, files and papers and brings to mind a physical space – a vault, a brick and stone building, a municipal library or a state museum. Unlike essay films they are public repositories, associated with adjectives such as immovable, backward looking, inflexible, inaccessible. The information age, in contrast is digital, paperless, remote, virtual, future-orientated, progressive and contains within it notions of both personal and public space. What might these three things – essay films, archives and the information age have to do with one another?

The goals of the research are to expand the body of work claiming the essay film as a distinct genre and to further explore the technological and narrative aspects of this mode of filmmaking. The research anticipates how this knowledge might be useful in thinking through cinema’s future forms and how examples of contemporary practice demonstrate this. This analysis is supplemented by knowledge gleaned from interviews with three filmmakers whose work can in some way be categorised as essayistic - Joram ten Brink, Patrick Keiller and Chris Petit.

The written work is complimented by my practical research – the development of a 20minute film essay ‘The Blue Wall’, which takes two dates - London winning the 2012 Olympic games on July 6th and the terror attacks of July 7th as a catalyst to explore themes such as the interrelationship between violence and nationalism, regeneration, sport and development legacies, globalisation and national branding and the role of images in each. Through the project work I have explored the impact of several new production and postproduction technologies and the ways in which they
support processes and techniques long used by film essayists to interrogate the image world.

Qualification Name: MPhil
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2013 13:56
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2013 13:56
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1347

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