In spite of claims of its obsolescence, analog film is still alive. It continues to exist as an inimitable artistic medium, put to use in myriad forms around the world. Nonetheless, in the context of our ever-expanding digital landscape, analog film faces new challenges that have forced it into a process of deep transformation. What steps do we need to take to guarantee that analog film will remain as a living-breathing medium? What are the alternatives to the idea of film as an obsolete, historical object? What new forms will film take and what will that mean for the culture that surrounds it? How do we keep analog film in the Now?
Organised by LaborBerlinin cooperation with the Film Institute of the Berlin University of the Arts, Film in the Present Tense will bring together filmmakers, artists, programmers, technicians and representatives from museums, independent film labs and cinemas to address these questions and formulate ideas, possibilities and plans of action for keeping film current and alive. In addition to six panel discussions, there will be screenings and expanded cinema performances presenting some of the ways in which film continues to exist “in the present tense”.
SOUVENIRS by Mark Toscano
In English, a “souvenir” generally refers to an object that has some personal, referential, perhaps symbolic meaning. This meaning is usually linked to an experience, a place, a person, a time. A souvenir is basically an object connected to a memory. But in its original French, a souvenir can refer not only to this object, but also to the memory itself.
Film is possibly the ultimate souvenir, in the French sense, representing a memory, a memory-object, and the complex interaction between the two, spanning past, future, and present. This illustrated talk will seek to explore these dual, yet intertwined natures of the medium, as well as whether film itself may provide compelling evidence that there’s no such thing as a present tense.
THE LOCK AND THE KEY
What is the purpose of the film archive? And perhaps even more importantly, who is it for? All over the world, the transformations within the film industry have forced film archives to reassess their roles. On the surface, the public discussion has focused on digital vs. analog with the advantages and disadvantages that each one entails. Bearing this in mind, with this panel we want to push beyond this discussion and look at the practical reality of numerous archives around the world. They have enormous collections of film and it is unclear what the future existence of this material will look like. Will it be left to decay in vaults and inadequate storage rooms or will it be a living, open resource to the public? What does an open, public archive look like? Can the archive be used to build a film audience? What place does the personal, the independent and the non-government archive occupy?
Dr. Anna Bohn (Filmothek der Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin, Germany)
Tiago Ganhão (Cinemateca Portuguesa, Portugal)
Juana Suarez (New York University, US)
Mark Toscano (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, US)
CHANCE, UNCERTAINTY, DECAY, FAILURE
It should not come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the knowledge of motion picture filmmaking is rapidly disappearing. However, until very recently the type of knowledge that was being put into practice was quite particular: one that functioned according to the technical demands and standards of the film industry.
The ontological nature of motion picture film prescribes another type of knowledge that at this present time has surged to the foreground and cannot be replicated by the digital; not only due to the mechanical properties of the medium, but also because of the philosophical underpinnings of the analog workflow. Choosing to work with analog film today, means having to reckon with the inherent qualities of the medium, which is to say, having to deal with – among others – chance, uncertainty, decay, failure, the non-standard and the impermanent. In our present time, adopting film as a medium implies the ability to create a very particular relationship with these qualities. What is the state of this knowledge right now? And where does its transfer take place? Is it in the independent lab, the university, the archive, the museum? How and in what form can the knowledge of motion picture film continue?
Nick Brandreth (George Eastman Museum, US)
Nicolas Rey (L’Abominable, France)
Philip Hoffman (Film Farm, Canada)
Stefanie Schulte Strathaus (Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art, Germany)
THE INTERVENING SUBSTANCE
Film is a physical medium. As a perforated stripe coated with light sensitive emulsion it has a material existence. Although “film” is now used as conceptual support for various cinematographic events, its substance has been defined by its physical qualities as a carrier of moving images.
Since the material of film is no longer demanded at the massive industrial scales of the recent past, the numbers of film stock manufacturers and the variety of raw film formats have declined. Analog film has changed from a cheap mass product to a limited resource, to the point that rare types are hoarded and production strategies, which were once commonplace, are now impossible. At the same time, old emulsion recipes are being resurrected and entire production plants are being reactivated. Artists are producing their own film emulsions and experimenting with the basic ingredients of film at the artisanal level. In the face of these developments, how should we consider the materiality of film? Can analog film exist if its industrial production ceases completely? How does the relationship of artists to the concept of “analog” shape the way in which film moves forward as an artistic medium?
For over a century, the ritual of film exhibition remained at its core unchanged: a dark room, a screen, an audience and a mechanical apparatus pulling a strip of film through a gate in front of a shuttered light. At present, however, the mechanical film apparatus is no longer at the center of the cinematic experience. While some seek to maintain its role within the cinema, the film projector has acquired new prominence in different settings: the museum, the gallery, the art space, and the music venue, among others. Although the experience of analog film projection continues to exist, these new locations suggest a transformation of its value and meaning. For both, artists and their audiences, the analog as a place of encounter continues to be redefined. Is there a sustainable future for analog projection? Which conditions are needed, and which projection sites are suited for its lasting subsistence? What kind of structures must be created to foment a knowledgeable and supportive audience?
Dr. Erika Balsom (King’s College, UK)
Katia Rossini (Cinema Nova, Belgium / Kino Climates)
Christopher Mondt (Filmprojektion Mondt, Germany)
Shai Heredia (Experimenta India / Srishti Institute of Art Design & Technology, India)
OLD BATTLES – NEW TREATIES
It was the existential question par excellence: analog or digital? Which format is more beautiful, faster, better? Until very recently, it seemed like the dispute had been settled with the digital emerging victorious.
The verdict went like this: in the short term, for the nostalgic, the qualities of analog film should be regarded as aesthetic ornaments which could easily be emulated by digital means. Eventually, the imminent arrival of a new generation of filmmakers, themselves digital natives, would finally make the digital supreme and the preeminence of analog film could be regarded as no more than a historical anecdote. But what if this means jumping to conclusions? What if this situation presents conditions for the beginning of a new cooperation? With analog film no longer subject to the requirements of the industry, is it possible to see a new space for the creative co-habitation of the digital and the analog? What form could this relationship take? Is there a possible analog-digital hybrid state and what could it mean for the production and distribution of moving images?
Olga Moskatova (Bauhaus Universität Weimar, Germany)
Prof. Dr. Christa Blümlinger (Université Paris 8, France)
Guy Edmonds (University of Plymouth, UK)
Dr. Kim Knowles (Aberystwyth University, UK)
Memory is extraordinarily imperfect and subjective, functioning as a prismatic, personalized response/record of experience, augmented by innumerable other external and internal factors. Film is quite similar, bearing witness to and being uniquely and unrepeatably marked by experience even before the filmmaker begins to create something from its material. The end result – a film – is a holistic articulation of these numerous, intertwining qualities of experience, memory, presence, awareness, intentionality, chance, and the unknown. Personal film records, such as home movies, carry rich layers of meaning and poignancy, even when they’re not images from our own lives. I’m convinced this has something to do with the intimate materiality of the medium – not only because of our awareness of film as a tangible object, but also because like a body and a consciousness, it is capable of experiencing something, physically capturing some aspect of it, and replaying it back with a strange and endlessly variable relatability.
This program brings together a series of films which speak to these deeper notions of film as a participant in memory and subjective experience. They are also all films about people: family, friends, and communities of significance to the artists, who used the medium of film in various ways to relate their feelings, thoughts, and memories about those people to a roomful of receptive strangers.
Curated by: Mark Toscano
Films by: Bruce Baillie, Tacita Dean, Roberta Friedman & Grahame Weinbren, Barbara Hammer, James Otis, John Price, Chick Strand
The Elastic Now is a programme daring us to be of and in the present. Probing interrelated temporalities – individual and collective, technological and societal – these are films that have inscribed themselves in our recent memory. They reside in an “elastic now“, one that we carry with us to the cinema, formed by multiple strata of connections to both ends of the present – the past and the future. The films of this programme are indebted to ethnographic and essayistic documentary filmmaking, to structural film, to found footage appropriation, to Super 8 post-punk playfulness, and bold explorations of narrative. A common current is a pleasure in their respective analogue shooting formats’ means to negotiate a sense of presence and immediacy. Together they offer a glimpse into the work of artists and filmmakers engaged in an analogue film practice which is as varied and vital as ever.
Curated by: Peter Taylor, Philip Widmann, Ulrich Ziemons
Films by: Anouk De Clercq, Shumona Goel & Shai Heredia, Elke Marhöfer & Mikhail Lylov, Camilo Restrepo, Miko Revereza, Fern Silva
The basic elements of projection – frame, screen, theater – have always been constructs, historically at the mercy of subjective propriety and commercial interests. For decades, the live manipulation of analog projection has provided artists with an opportunity to push beyond the physical limits of the traditional frame and the commercial screen. In this program, we present works that transform sound, image and space to create unrestrained, exuberant and wide-open cinematic events.
Curated by: Anja Dornieden, Juan David González Monroy, Julian Ross
Works by: Britt Al-Busultan, Sally Golding, Scott Fitzpatrick, Guy Sherwin, Zeropixel
Film in the Present Tense is the closing event of RE MI.
RE MI is a two-year European cooperation project run by Mire (Nantes, FR), WORM.Filmwerkplaats (Rotterdam, NL) and LaborBerlin (Berlin, DE), focused on the creation, preservation and circulation of technical knowledge of analogue film in order to support its use as a creative medium.
Date: September 23 – 24, 2017
Workshop: 10am – 5pm (both days)
Location: LaborBerlin, Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin
This workshop is open to non-LaborBerlin members. Participation is limited and pre-registration is required. To register for the workshop please send an email to email@example.com Workshop fee for non-members: 50 €
A hands-on workshop that concentrates on two distinct Alternative Emulsion processes; Cyanotype, an iron emulsion process that produces a striking Prussian Blue image and Van Dyke Brown, an iron/silver emulsion that produces a beautiful and painterly sepia coloured image.
An intensive introduction into the alchemical nature of moving images showing a variety onto alternative, light sensitive, emulsions. We will explore the arts of homebrewed film emulsions and explore a variety of options for coating the emulsion onto 16mm film. A basic chemistry lesson will be provided to introduce the essential make-up of these emulsions, followed by the creation of the emulsion in a darkroom. These emulsions will be created from scratch, using the key ingredient in the production of alternative emulsion: ferric ammonium citrate. With our handmade film stock we will: expose photograms, make contact prints and hand-process the results so they are ready for projection.
This practical workshop is suitable for anyone with an interest in film, photography, printing, art or working without computers. Making alternative emulsions is easy, the results are supercharged, the chemicals required are cheap and relatively safe and you can adapt most of the operations to your living room. The workshop covers every aspect of homebrewing alternatively, from coating 16mm film, making an exposure, developing the print and toning the final image. Participants will finish with a solid understanding of each process, its chemistry and practical tips to use in their own practice. Homebrew emulsions have a distinct and wonderful look to them that cannot be duplicated by other means and provide a wonderful basis for nearly endless experimentation. See the results by the end of the session! All chemicals, protective wear, and supplies are included.
Many of the alternative emulsions in use today are variants of the non-silver processes developed by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and they are among the oldest of all photographic processes. His Cyanotype is the original sun-light printing process and distinctive for producing rich, Prussian blue monochromatic prints, Cyanotype was used well into the 20th century as an inexpensive method for reproducing photographs, documents, maps and plans (hence the enduring architectural term “blueprint”), as well as for making impressions of biological specimens in the field (“photograms”). Another process, the Van Dyke Brown process, was named for the resemblance of the print color to the brown oil paint named for the Flemish painter Van Dyck. Both Cyanotype as Van Dyke Brown emulsions are very simple and economical to make and use water not only to develop the image but also to fix it and wash away the non-image-forming chemicals.
Esther Urlus is a Rotterdam-based artist working with motion picture film formats Super8, 16mm and 35mm. Resulting in films, performances and installations, her works always arise from DIY methods. Urlus’ work has been exhibited and screened at film festivals worldwide, among other 25FPS Festival Zagreb, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Sonic Acts, and the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Urlus is the founder of WORM Filmwerkplaats, Rotterdam, an artist-run workspace dedicated to motion picture film as an artistic, expressive medium.
“In my film work I create a link between specific historical events and stories and the (re) use of analog film techniques and inventions from the early days of photography and cinematography. I force a sometimes alienating parallel between the events or the story and the cinematic technique, to enhance the impact of the image. In addition, I create my own film material, literally, by mixing iron or silver compounds and salt with gelatin and water to form a light-sensitive emulsions. I’m not looking for a naturalist, commercial like film material, outcome. I intend to create unique components that, by its singularity, generates a special and cinematic experience. ”
LaborBerlin is proud to announce a new, comprehensive film workshop in collaboration with Arsenal – Institute für Film und Videokunst.
The more we are dedicated to preserving, rediscovering, and revitalizing archival films, the more we have to make sure that there is enough competence in dealing with analog film material in the future.
For this reason we are offering a six-day analog workshop for the first time. Arsenal members and partners will accompany the participants through the entire process: from producing a 16mm film, to digitizing it, then on to projecting it in the cinema, with added insights into archiving and caring for prints. The last day will involve a tour of the archive.
The workshop will delve into the various working areas, covering the basics with equal parts theory and practice. Starting in 2019 the Arsenal will be offering extended workshops in the specific areas.
The participation fee is 350 Euro, reduced 300 Euro. This includes one role of 16mm material to create a film, and cameras will be available for use. No previous knowledge necessary. Anyone interested can register at firstname.lastname@example.org. The number of participants is limited.
Date: Friday, June 30 2017
Doors open 8 pm
Films start 9 pm
Location: Ausland – Lychener Str. 60, 10437 Berlin
She Tales is a collective screening from both past and present female members of LaborBerlin. The wide spectrum of analogue methodologies in this non-thematic screening reflects the diverse constellations of conceptual and aesthetic pursuits of filmmakerin working at LaborBerlin.
Sari Maarit Cedergren
Oração ao Tempo
Work in progress
Self portrait as self care as war fare
A dream of becoming 24 eyes, 4 paralell brains & 360 vision
Artists working with celluloid are migrating beyond the cinema, into galleries and in public spaces. The architecture of projection and the apparatuses of presentation are recontextualized, often incorporating sculptural works that dynamically augment the content of the film material.
This workshop explores intersections of architecture, installation art and celluloid cinema. Participants will create sculptural film works on high-contrast 16mm film, which will be processed using Morse tanks. Participants will exhibit their work in public space, and are encouraged to work collaboratively to explore spatial perspective, as well as intersections between projection and form.
Date: July 23rd – 29th 2017 Location: LaborBerlin e.V., Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin This workshop is open to non-LaborBerlin members.Participation is limited and pre-registration is required. To register for the workshop please send an email to email@example.comWorkshop fee for non-members: 50 €
Number of participants: around 12
Material: 16mm Film material (Kodak 3374) and developing chemistry are provided
Cameras: if possible, participants should bring their 16mm cameras. Since shooting can be done in groups, it’s okay if not everyone has their own camera.
Location: The first two days of the workshop will take place at LaborBerlin and Theatre Space at Prinzenallee 58.
Sunday July 23rd (all day) – at theatre-room and lab at Prinzenallee 58
Introductions of key concepts and review of readings handed out prior to the workshop. Viewing and discussion of sculptural cinema works. Bolex review, test shoot in groups.
Monday July 24th (all day) – at theatre-room and lab
Morse Tank workshop and processing of test footage. Creation of collaborative teams, design and sculpture intensive with Interdisciplinary artist Angela Henderson.
July 25th to July 28th
Independent Work Week. Participants will have full access to the lab to work independently on their projects. A review and crit of works in progress will be conducted in the evening of Wednesday, July 26th.
July 29th (evening)
Exhibition of Collaborative works . Artists will select a location (preferably within close vicinity of one another) to exhibit their work. All technical specifications (including projection and sculptural material) must be prepared and ready to show well in advance to the exhibition.
Solomon Nagler’s films have been featured in Retrospectives at the Winnipeg Cinematheque, Excentris Cinema in Montreal, the Festival de le Cinéma Different in Paris, The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, The Canadian Film Institute in Ottawa, Robert Heald Gallery in Wellington, New Zealand, The Artist Film Workshop in Melbourne, Australia and the Cinematheque Quebecoise. His work also includes 16mm celluloid installations that engage with experimental architecture in galleries and public space. These works have been exhibited at the Toronto International Film Festival, 8-11 Gallery (Toronto), Artspace Gallery (Sydney, Australia), Send and Receive Festival of Sound (Winnipeg) and The Halifax Independent Filmmakers’ Festival. Originally from Winnipeg, Solomon Nagler is co-founder of WNDX: Festival of the Moving Image in Winnipeg and currently lives in Halifax where he is a professor of film production at NSCAD University.
For more information, please visit the artist’s website.
Date: Friday, June 9 2017
Screening: 8:30 pm
Location: LaborBerlin, Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin
LaborBerlin is proud to host Steve Polta, who will join us in person to present a screening of his films on Super 8 and 16mm.
“Bay area artist Steve Polta, who has been producing a body of films, mostly on Super 8, over the past two decades that are as exquisitely nuanced as they are rarely seen. Each film presents a narrow window onto the ordinary world, prodded by subtle observation until it yields images of ethereal beauty.” (Rick Bahto: Echo Park Film Center)
Program: Red Sketch (1997); Super 8, color, sound, 6 min Interval Oakland 99 (2000); Super 8, color, silent, 3 min Departure(1997); Super 8, color, sound, 7 min Picture Window(1996); Super 8, color, sound, 10 min Minnesota Landscape (1997); 16mm; color, silent, 10 min Estuary #1 (1998); Super 8, color, sound, 10 min The Berries (2000); Super 8, color, silent, 3 min Summer Rain for LMC, side A (2007/2011); Super 8, color, silent, 3 min Summer Rain for LMC, side B(2007/2011); Super 8, color, silent, 3 min A House Full of Dust (2007); Super 8, color, silent, 10 min
Steve Polta —sometimes filmmaker, former San Francisco taxi driver— is the Artistic Director of San Francisco Cinematheque. He holds a BA in Film Studies from UC Berkeley, an MFA in Filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute and a Masters of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. His writings on film have been published in INCITE! A Journal of Media and Radical Aesthetics; Radical Light: Alternative Film & Video in the San Francisco Bay Area 1945–2000; and UnDependently Yours: Imagining a World Beyond the Red Carpet. His own films have screened in film festivals and alternative film venues all over the place, including Anthology Film Archives, Black Hole Cinematheque, the Echo Park Film Center, Chicago Filmmakers, the Images Festival, the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the New York Film Festival’s Views from the Avant-Garde, SFMOMA, Pacific Film Archive, the Pusan Film Festival the Robert Beck Memorial Cinema and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2014 he was awarded a fellowship by the Andy Warhol Foundation in support of research on contemporary and historic performance cinema; a yearlong series based on this research was presented by Cinematheque in 2016.
Date: Saturday, May 6 2017, from 4pm on
Location: LaborBerlin e.V., Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin
Friends, friends of friends, sons and daughters of friends, supporters and prospective members!
Please join us for the grand re-opening of LaborBerlin! After the success of our crowdfunding campaign FILM AIN’T DEAD we want to share with you the fruit of our collective efforts. We will also introduce our collaborative project REMI with films by our partner labs Filmwerkplaats (NL) and Mire (FR). Have some food and drinks, take a tour, have a look at our wonderful new facilities, watch films or just hang out with us and have a good time!
REMI Program (8pm): TEST LOOP – FACES – Antoine Ledroit + Pierre Pierre Pierre (35mm I approx 5’) UNTITLED (MOROCCO) – Laure Peigné (Super 8 | 3’22”)
S.N.O.W. – Judith van der Made (16mm | 2’37”) EVERY PRIMITIVE SPACE COMMUNE – Marcy Saude (16mm | 2’50”) COLLÉ-SERRÉ – Carole Thibaud (16mm I 3’30”) L|R-INTRODUCTION – Will Rifer (16mm I 2’10”) UNTITLED – Stéphane Racine (Super8 I 5′) CORTOPUNK – Carole Thibaud (Super8 transferred to digital I 3’18”) UNTITLED (24XH2O) REDUX (PRODUCER’S CUT ) – Thomas Chatard + Antoine Ledroit (35mm I 5’) THE CAPTURED LIGHT OF AN INSTANT – Lichun Tseng (35mm | 20′) SILLAGES#2 – Antoine Ledroit & Aurélie Percevault (16mm I 5’20”) THEN LET’S KEEP DANCING – Aurélie Percevault (16mm I 2’) DELETION – Esther Urlus (35mm | 12′)
And on Sunday (May 7), to cap off our celebration, LaborBerlin members, Philip Widmann, Bernd Lützeler, Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez Monroy will be presenting their latest films in a special screening at Arsenal at 4:30pm.
Arsenal Program: DAS GESTELL – Philip Widmann (Super8 transferred to digital I 30′) HELIOPOLIS HELIOPOLIS – Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez Monroy (16mm I 25′) CAMERA THREAT – Bernd Lützeler (35mm & DCP I 29′)
Date: Monday, March 13 2017
Workshop: 10:00 – 17:00
Location: LaborBerlin e.V., Prinzenallee 58, 13359 Berlin
This workshop is open to non-LaborBerlin members.
During this workshop, you will learn a process improved and designed to try and emulate Kodak Ektachrome film. This film offered beautifully saturated and rich colors. Since Ektachrome has been discontinued there is no longer color reversal motion picture film. Through a few years of testing, Z. Hart was able to achieve what he believes are beautiful and close to accurate colors. This is possible through cross processing negative emulsions in E-6 chemistry. He uses the Tetenal 3 bath E-6 developing kit and has increased the time and temperatures to very specific spots. With a good exposure in the camera and careful processing of the film, you’ll get great results.
Zach Hart is a filmmaker and teacher for Mono No Aware in New York, USA. He has also taught and screened at Hampshire College, Bard College, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and Echo Park Film Center to name a few.
Participation is limited and pre-registration is required. To register for the workshop please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org