Media Studies Seminar 2023

Recordings Vol.1 –
Archives as Sites of Memory and Remembering

Photo credit:  Steenbeck Muzeul Cineastului Amator 01.jpg" by Claudiu Ceia, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The Media Studies Seminar 2023 was hosted by the  FIAT/IFTA Media Studies Commission (MSC) and the BFI at the BFI Southbank in London, UK.

The 5th edition of the Media Studies Seminar had Rethinking Broadcast Archives: Dig, Deconstruct, Display as its theme.

Over the coming weeks, the recordings from the Media Studies Seminar will be published on the FIAT/IFTA website and YouTube page, with the final closing round table recording being shared on Thursday, February 22nd 2024.

This week’s sessions are from the panel Archives as Sites of Memory and Remembering:

  • Harvested From Bin Cuts by Paul Mulraney & Dr Kingsley Marshall (Falmouth University).
  • Considering Context: The Partisan Roots of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive by Naomi Smith (Birbeck, University of London).
  • “Through Television You’ve Lied to the People”: In Defence of an Inclusive Engagement with the TV Archives of the Romanian Revolution by Victor Morozov (Trinity College Dublin).

You can access all recordings on the Media Studies Seminar 2023 page.

Harvested From Bin Cuts

by Paul Mulraney & Dr Kingsley Marshall

Falmouth University

Harvested From Bin Cuts

The culch is the bed on which oysters grow. Composed of discarded shells, stones and grit – thrown overboard once the dredge has been sifted for marketable oysters – the culch is the fertile ground on which future harvests rely.

Bin cuts are the bed on which this film has grown. Composed of discarded shots, retakes and tails – thrown on the cutting room floor once the edit has been sifted for marketable material – bin cuts are the fertile ground on which archival documentaries can flourish.

Following a technique deployed by Adam Curtis (Hypernormalisation, Bitter Lake), From the Culch finds authenticity, honesty and emotional truth in the unwanted, unplanned and unguarded moments left behind by history.

Harvested from Bin Cuts proposes that these once discarded moments of aesthetically and narratively undesirable footage are, in fact, a more fitting container for emotion and memory than the carefully staged and framed footage more common to broadcast documentaries.

This paper will detail a production process that in itself was cathartic and deeply moving and consider how film is impacted by a desire to remain true to the memory of people, language and place.

The filmmakers – in their editing decisions, in sound design and score, in interview technique and writing – sought to honour the material, retaining the sense of discovery that comes from opening a can of film whose contents are deemed valueless to some yet are priceless to others.

This essentially humanist intent finds a kinship in the films of Tim Plester and Rob Curry (The Way of Morris, upcoming documentary The Island of Doc Rowe), whose archival films will be considered as a model for this approach.

Paul Mulraney & Dr Kingsley Marshall

Paul Mulraney lectures at Falmouth University’s School of Film and Television, teaching film practice with specialisms in production design, screenwriting and documentary. His research interests lie in vernacular filmmaking – the use of existent people and places in the writing and production of independent, low-budget cinema. This practical research is related to a thematic interest in the examination of inequality through storytelling, in the telling of stories about peripheral places and the people who live there.

Dr Kingsley Marshall is based in Cornwall and specialises in film production. He is Head of Film & Television at Falmouth University and, as the development producer of the Sound/Image Cinema Lab – a unit within the university that develops short and feature film projects connects national partners with crew drawn from staff, students, graduates, and the local community. His research focuses on film and television development and production, sound and music in cinema and television, and the representation of real events in screen media. He has published widely and speaks regularly at international conferences, including events at the University of Oxford and New York University, and as an invited speaker at the ScreenSkills Congress, Birmingham University & the School of Advanced Studies, University of London.

Considering Context: The Partisan Roots of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive

by Naomi Smith

Birkbeck, University of London

Considering Context: The Partisan Roots of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive

Founded in August 1968, the Vanderbilt Television News Archive holds over 40,000 hours of news broadcasts from national television networks across the United States of America and continues to be one of the most extensive and complete archives of television news in the world. Containing over fifty years’ worth of broadcasts, the archive has grown into a vital resource for television news media researchers and anyone else who might be interested in seeing the first draft of the last fifty years of American history.

The story of the archive’s founding is narrative as equally compelling and – perhaps – surprising as some of the stories contained within its servers. The archive’s founder, initial financial backer and chief fundraiser, Paul Simpson, was a deeply conservative businessman and was convinced that network news broadcasts were contributing to social turmoil and unrest across America. He created the archive not necessarily with the needs of future media and journalism researchers in mind but with the express purpose of demonstrating that the networks were, as he alleged, deeply biased against the conservative right in America.

This paper considers how we might “read” the archive’s collection in the context of its founding and whether the intent behind its creation has – or should have – any bearing on the way that researchers interact with the archive and its contents today. Furthermore, it looks at similarities between the rhetoric surrounding the creation of the archive and similar sentiments concerning television journalism expressed by politicians and other social actors today and discusses the potential impacts of this rhetoric on the use of the archive now and in the future.

Naomi Smith

Naomi Smith is a final year PhD student at Birkbeck, University of London. Her current research interests include intersectionality and decolonisation, news story selection, and broadcast journalism, particularly in the context of the United States of America. She is a published journalist and freelance writer and completed an Investigative Reporting MA at Birkbeck in September 2018.

“Through Television You’ve Lied to the People”: In Defence of an Inclusive Engagement with the TV Archives of the Romanian Revolution

by Victor Morozov

Trinity College Dublin

"Through Television You've Lied to the People": In Defence of an Inclusive Engagement with the TV Archives of the Romanian Revolution

It is now widely acknowledged among scholars that television as a medium played a pivotal role in the unfolding of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 (Petrovszky, Tichindeleanu, Romanian Revolution Televised, 2018). This assertion is commonly understood to highlight the significance of the Romanian Revolution as a historical event that was broadcast in real-time, thus marking the inauguration of a new era in the history of media. It also implies the gradual change of status of Romanian Television as an institution during those intense days, from a catalyst of popular discontent to becoming the main agent of large-scale manipulation.

However, this paper posits that such arguments predominantly rely on an imperfect and incomplete engagement with, as well as a truncated analysis of, the available archival corpus of televisual footage amassed during the days of the revolution. It argues that a vast majority of theoretical and practical contributions to this topic, spanning from Jean Baudrillard’s essay on the mass graves of Timisoara and the more general proliferation of simulacra to the seminal found footage film Videograms of a Revolution (1992) by Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, have culminated in the creation of what film critic Serge Daney referred to as “trademark images” (images de marque) – convenient clichés which block the acquisition of critical knowledge.

By methodically tracing a recent personal involvement with the existing archival material through a selection of illuminating case studies that contradict or prolong previous interpretations, this article advocates for an extension of the mass of images deserving consideration when addressing the subject of the Romanian Revolution. Furthermore, it aims to show that a comprehensive examination of this body of footage could generate updated perspectives on this particular matter, allowing for contradictory and enriching evaluations that could effectively challenge ossified interpretations which have pervaded both academic and popular discourse for decades.

Victor Morozov

Victor Morozov was born in Romania in 1998. Bachelor’s degree in Film and Drama Studies at Université Grenoble-Alpes in Grenoble, France, and at Trinity College Dublin (1 year Erasmus academic exchange). Master’s degree in Film Studies at Université Paris VIII Vincennes–Saint-Denis in Paris. Currently working as a postgraduate researcher (2nd Year) within the Film Department of Trinity College Dublin, focusing on a comparative analysis between the televisual footage of the Romanian Revolution of 1989 and that of the Irish “Troubles”. Extensive writings on film, both in academic journals (Revista Transilvania) and in the French and Romanian general press (Cahiers du cinémaRevue DébordementsRevista VATRAObservator CulturalZiarul MetropolisAcoperisul de Sticla, etc.). Participated in the Talents Sarajevo and Rotterdam Film Festival Young Critics Academy workshops dedicated to young film critics. Participant in the MECCSA 2023 with a paper on the televisual footage of the War in Ukraine. Participant in the ISSS 2023 (Irish Screen Studies Seminar) with a paper on the film The Image You Missed by Dónal Foreman.

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