Areas of Intervention (RIT's)

RIT 1 Management

This WP deals with the overall project management for the funding period, including different activities that establish teamwork, decision making, communications and collaboration, reporting, financial management and quality control.

RIT 2 R&I Resources and Strategical Agenda

This WP addresses the dual challenge of (1) strengthening the research profile of traditionally less research-intensive HEIs, and of (2) defining and developing the specific nature of that research – artistic research and practice-based research methods. By tackling these challenges in a concerted way, the FILMEU Alliance aims to act as a model for comparable institutions across Europe, mainly Institutes of Higher Art Education, enabling them to fully take up their role in the European Research Area.

RIT 3 Impact & Engagement

All projects are exploratory in nature and the objectives of the pilots are to consolidate teams inside the clusters and to support the definition of the research agenda of the Alliance by focusing on specific thematic areas. The four pilots are briefly outlined below. We considered as key deliverables for each project the research work plan in the form of a case study and final results that highlight the potential of the research to be carried out by the Alliance in the domain of artistic practice-based research.

These five pilots should be regarded as proof-of-concept instruments. They will support the implementation of joint teams and the definition of a common agenda for research, but also will help in identifying barriers to cooperation and support the production of a number of recommendations for follow up steps towards the implementation of a joint research agenda.

 

  • Pilot 1 The European Archive of Short Animation

    Head Researcher: Sherra Murphy (IADT)

    This project will produce a detailed state of the art report identifying and recording relevant sources of information on the production and exhibition of short animated films, in small European countries. The aim is to understand the future funding and resources needed for the creation of a relational database and digital archive of European short animated film, as a resource for theoretical and artistic research. Focusing on three FilmEU member countries, it will conduct a scoping exercise establishing and understanding where primary and secondary material may be found, including extant film archives, funding bodies, festivals, animation studios, libraries, film credits and/or any other source that may yield information on studios, artists, producers, funders, and individual films. This information will allow us to conduct a survey of the places where information may be gathered, and to establish a set of common categories under which it may be recorded. This pilot project will focus on the research, identification, collection, and organisation needed to gather the disparate information and resources that will allow us to plan an openly accessible online information archive, and to seek support and resources for its eventual creation. In so doing, we will begin to develop an understanding of the commonalities and differences in short form animated production in the member countries, and identify potential strands for further research and collaboration as trends emerge through the gathering and organisation of information. It is our aim that such an exercise will reveal the historical and current landscape of practice in animated short film production, thereby suggesting the types of research activity that become possible, and pointing to directions in research and practice that are not now possible to conceive as such an archive - comprehensive, searchable and consistent - does not exist.

  • Pilot 2 Decolonising the Panorama of Congo: A Virtual Heritage Artistic Research

    Head Researcher: Victor Flores (Lusófona University) & Leen Engelen (LUCA)

    The Panorama was the most popular picture-going entertainment in the 19th Century. An extremely large canvas depicting a broad scene embraced the spectators in a circular rotunda, producing one of the earliest illusions of ‘virtual reality.’ Although this was mainly a 19th century mass-culture phenomenon spread across the great European cities, the Panorama was later resumed, anachronistically, in the 20th century World Fairs, namely in the Colonial Exhibitions, as a powerful means of persuasion and propaganda. The pilot CONGO-VR will study and re-interpret one of these late panoramas, probably the most forgotten and overlooked Belgian colonial media heritage item: the Panorama of Congo. A recall icon of the violent imperialist policies perpetrated in the former Belgian colony of Congo (1885-1960), the Panorama of Congo, by Paul Mathieu and Alfred Bastien, was dismantled and rolled up after the two colonial exhibitions where it was displayed (Gent, 1913; Brussels, 1935), and fell into oblivion for about 100 years. This giant ‘skeleton in the closet’, measuring 14mx115m, remains inaccessible and unphotographed until today. CONGO-VR aims to bring this media heritage into the ongoing debates on the decolonization of museum collections. By photographing and re-curating this image with archival and artistic research in a Virtual Reality environment, CONGO-VR will prepare this heritage for future generations and critical engagement by different stakeholders, seeking multi-faceted and polyphone narratives of Europe’s colonial past. Positioned in the cross-section of media archaeology, artistic research and post-colonial studies, this project is structured with seven tasks included in three different Work Packages:

    • WP1: Panorama Reproduction & Making-of Documentary (tasks 1 & 2)
    • WP2: Archive and VR Artistic Research (tasks 3, 4 & 5)
    • WP3: VR and Dissemination (tasks 6 & 7)

    CONGO-VR will draw on a great photographic venture (task 1) undertaken with the support of the War Heritage Institute (access and manipulation of the Panorama) and will be the basis for making a pilot´s documentary, whilst at the same time producing small video essays where artistic research will be put into practice, which will cover the different ‘decolonisation tasks’ herein envisaged (see task 2). The second pillar of this project will be the archive research (task 3) focused on the Panorama of Congo exhibitions, Belgian propaganda films, international reports, press news, literature, photographs taken by missionaries and colonial politics. This research will provide documentation to the VR artistic research (task 4), which is meant to bring new gazes over this image and create new images, sounds, or virtual objects — intended as new layers of meaning. These will be developed in collaboration with Congolese and European artists. Lastly, as it is not our goal to simply re-enact this panorama, we plan to confront its original narrative (its official visual story) with a critical counter-narrative (task 6).

    A pilot for a larger project

    This project has in mind a bigger picture. The study of the still existing and the disappeared panoramas has allowed the creation in 2012 of the International Panorama Council (IPC), a non-government and not-for-profit association of panorama specialists ‘committed to supporting the heritage and conservation of the few existing panoramas’ (see https://panoramacouncil.org). The IPC created and manages a database of panoramas and related art forms, which presents the ‘worldwide family of panoramas’. It is our goal to test with this pilot a VR platform where all the panoramas included in the IPC database could be displayed and re-experienced in an immersive environment, alongside the corresponding metadata and contextual framework. This larger project, to be implemented in partnership with the IPC and the institutional owners of these panoramas, would allow such historical immersive media to be analysed and compared in an immersive apparatus similar to the one they were originally designed for, and no longer only studied from their flat digitised images. This Panorama Heritage VR Platform would give back the ‘apparatus’ and the immersive experience to all panoramas which lost their buildings and could never be ‘revisited’ again. On the other hand, it would allow immersive media to be explored and researched by digital humanities, visually cross-referenced with other kinds of images and catalogued with their coeval visual cultures.

  • Pilot 3.1 Expanded Memories: Artistic Experiments into Hybrid Analogue-Digital Film Production

    Head Researcher: Steven Malliet (LUCA)

    In this art-based research project we will experiment with hybrid forms of analogue-digital (animation) film in order to create objects of tertiary memory. The project targets the following artistic and theoretical goals: (1) to expand the boundaries of the medium by making crossovers to the performative and fine arts; (2) to generate new understandings of audience embodiment, cognition and participation; (3) to develop a co-creative and interdisciplinary production process; and (4) to explore new formats of exhibition and curation beyond the traditional two-dimensional screen. Guided by insights from media archaeology, philosophy of technology and psychology of embodied cognition we will revisit a range of (analogue) production techniques and devices, and remediate these using digital post-production, editing and sequencing methods. This will result in a collection of experimental audiovisual works that are showcased in a hybrid digital-physical way. A digital component can be archived in a shared virtual environment but a performative and location-specific embedment is required in order to experience the material, spatial and temporal characteristics of the intended hybridization process. Multidisciplinary (and cross-university) co-creation is at the heart of the proposed project. Each partner will initiate a case based on their ongoing research in expanded film. In later stages, intermediary prototypes of each case will be (digitally) reinterpreted and/or (mechanically) reproduced by students and researchers from the other universities. As such, each case will not result in one final output, but in an ongoing series of remediations that reflect the collaborative process, and the research identity and cultural context of each partner. We will create an augmented exhibition space that showcases not only the artistic objects themselves, but especially, their continuous history and evolution. As the research combines technical, methodological, theoretical and artistic concerns, this exhibition space will essentially be multimodal: artefacts will be displayed alongside written reflections (e.g., research papers), audiovisual documentation of the research process, and technical descriptions of the tools and production methods.

  • Pilot 3.2 Machine Acts – Collaborative Screenplay Writing with GPT-3

    Head Researcher: Tobias Frühmorgen

    In recent years, AI has become part of our daily life. The landing page of Netflix with its algorithmic-tailored suggestions, Spotify’s mix of the week that seems astonishingly good, and AI even helping in identifying the hidden founder of QAnon through analysis of text patterns. Several attempts have been made recently to create art with the help of machine learning processes. Many of these attempts are either imitating already existing modes of creation or artistic styles (The next Rembrandt), or create work that is captivating in its absurdity, but offers little in terms of content that challenge different forms of creative practice. Our joint research tries to fill this gap by combining the enormous potential of machine learning process with human artists that work within the field. We aim for an inclusive approach to develop different models of collaboration. Despite AI’s artistic potential, we also aim to consider the material and political implications of the use of A.I. for artistic production that go beyond questions of authorship. At the heart of this research is an artistic project: Within the scope of modern Natural Language Processing, we will use GPT-3 (or its successor) as a collaborative AI in order to produce an artistic output: A 3-part mini-series. Within each of these productions, the participants, together with the AI will respond to a theme that relates to our interactions with AI. The following 3 themes are the framework of our productions:

    • ‘Transdividuals – Future Subjects and the divided Self’. Themes: Subject Creation on the WWW, ‘Dividuum’, ‘Plasticity’.
    • ‘Narcissus and the Oracle’. Themes: Entrancement, Self-ReFection and Pre-cognition, AI’s (sentimental) education – visual Metaphor teaching.
    • ’Surprise me with what I want’. Themes: AI in contemporary media, human machine relationships, Anthropomorphizing of AI, Silicon Valley Myth.

    This co-writing process mimics a ‘writer’s-room’ in contemporary serialized content production, writing the screenplays of a TV-mini-series with 3 episodes, each of them 25 mins in length, as seen in “Black Mirror” (UK, 2011-19) or “SKAM” (NO, 2015-2019). These episodes will be different in style, rhythm and approach, living in the contrast between an experimental approach and yet a potentially ‘useful’ outcome. This process will take different steps to those usually seen in a screenwriting process through introducing algorithmic logic to how they unfold. From the starting point of a “what-if-question", we will then test different parameters (corpus texts, error affordances etc.) of GPT3 to definne a plot, the creation of characters, the synopsis (1 page summary), and a treatment (10 pages, with scenes). From here, we will prototype the script through LARPing (live action role play) workshops. Within these experiments, impromptu additions to the script, characters, and plot will be made by both performers and AI, which will be collected and used as data to collaborate on the script in a second iteration. Finally, a more finalized performance/presentation of the script will be made. This outcome will be evaluated by the participants and their varying expertise, and will inform the starting point of the next part of the series. As we bring ‘looping’ into the writing process, we look to change the way writing is done. As such, this project places equal emphasis on studying the process itself; as it does the artistic outputs. From this artistic project, a broader approach will unfold starting from the question, that emerging technologies always deal with the unknown and unforeseen. Accordingly, we propose to critically question and discover the creative potential of collaboration with machines. There is a constant reflective exchange between the artistic project and the critical approach, where we seek to understand how the role of the creator is changing. We consist of a variety of researchers from different disciplines and with distinct academic interests. We value this diversity and propose a methodology for working that allows for group debate and reflection in repeating stages during the research. We also decided on the three themes to allow our individual expertise to intersect in different, and hopefully surprising ways. This transdisciplinary approach will be framed as a type of co-creation which includes machines.

  • Pilot 4 Artistic Research and Cognitive Film Studies: Towards a Transdisciplinary understanding of Cinema

    Head Researcher: Maarten Coëgnarts

    The goal of this integrative project is to further transdisciplinary collaboration between artistic researchers and cognitive scholars working in the field of media- and film studies by establishing a common research agenda –founded in the heuristics of film practice and the overall research programmes of embodied cognition and neurocinema – that will serve as an overall theoretical framework and guideline for joint research projects and interdisciplinary and participatory experiments. More specifically, this project aims to demonstrate the heuristic and epistemological value of film practice by exploring how the artistic creative processes that are at the core of this practice (e.g., sound design, cinematography, editing) can contribute to questions that are pertinent to the cognitive study of the moving image. Cognitive film scholars generally seek to understand, among other things, the ways in which perceptual and neural processing relate to spectators’ affective responses, to viewers’ comprehension of film narratives, and to the saliency of particular formal features of films. They also raise questions about how artistic strategies, such as narrative construction, audio-visual technique, and the creation of emotional responses, may be amenable to naturalistic explanations in a cognitive framework. In order to show how film practitioners can support further research in this discipline, the project has the ambition of exploring the possibility of conducting a series of experimental case studies alongside the following themes and research questions:

    • What role does sound design and cinematography have in storytelling?
    • In what ways do sound design and cinematography contribute to narrative comprehension, and what kinds of affective responses do they produce in the viewer?
    • What is the effect of film structure on event segmentation, memory and emotional processing?

    The results of these case-studies will offer film practitioners explanations as to how the fundamental aesthetic elements of film and media aesthetics — light and colour, two-dimensional space, three-dimensional space, time-motion, and sound – can be structured and applied to produce maximally effective visual and sound images, not only in the medium of film, but also in the new media of augmented reality and virtual reality.

RIT 4 Talent

The main objective of this WP is to promote a joint policy and action plan for the improvement of research competences in the Alliance and the increase in critical mass, along with a joint strategy for HR management, recruiting and rewarding.

We consider this WP to be central to the objectives of FILMEU_RIT following initial analyses and objectives. Rhizomatic sustainability education requires (re)imagining of scholarship.

RIT 5 Networking

This Work Package addresses the need for the overall valorisation and legitimization of the Alliance and involves exploring joint structures and sharing best practices across European Universities, facilitating collaboration in activities that could be common to all alliances and generally increasing the ability of the Alliance to intervene at a policy-making level. It includes two pilot actions: one that will explore cooperation with other European Universities and another targeting collaboration across the artistic sector in order to reinforce the artistic research agenda.

RIT 6 Dissemination

The main objective of the WP is the design and implementation of a sustainability and dissemination strategy that collates the results of the activity of the Alliance into the production of transferable assets including a final toolkit, reflecting our approach to artistic research and the positioning of the Alliance.

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