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Workshop FilmColors Unversity of Zurich [clear filter]
Tuesday, March 20

9:30am GMT

FilmColors – Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Aesthetics
Limited Capacity seats available

Two research projects have been investigating film colors at the Department of Film Studies of the University of Zurich since 2015 and 2016:

ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors investigates the relationship between color film technology and aesthetics with a variety of methods ranging from aesthetic analysis and studies of technical papers to scientific material analysis and film digitization and restoration. To this end the project develops and applies software for the (semi-)automatic annotation and visualization of color films in the emerging field of digital humanities. The project is funded by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council, 2015–2020.  Link to project entry in the University of Zurich's research database.

SNSF Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions, by contrast, focuses on the cultural and institutional context of the technological and aesthetic development of color film stocks and their application. The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, 2016–2020. Link to project entry in the University of Zurich's research database (in German).

In her introduction to the workshop FilmColors, consisting of five presentations by project team members, Barbara Flueckiger provides an update on the current status and an overview of planned developments, namely the digital humanities approach to the investigation of film colors.

avatar for Barbara Flueckiger

Barbara Flueckiger

Professor / Principal Investigator, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors and SNSF Film Colors, University of Zurich
Barbara Flueckiger has been a professor for film studies at the University of Zurich since 2007. Before her studies in film theory and history, she worked internationally as a film professional. She is the author of two text books about “Sound Design” and “Visual Effects”.Since... Read More →

Tuesday March 20, 2018 9:30am - 10:00am GMT
BFI Southbank NFT3 Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

10:00am GMT

The Transparency of Early Film Colors. Techniques, Aesthetics, Materials
Limited Capacity seats available

The Transparency of Early Film Colors: Techniques, Aesthetics, Materials 
The classical relation between transparency and color is not only a historical one situated in the fine arts, with different painting techniques, or in the theoretical framework of discourses of transparency and opacity. It is also an obviously desirable physical quality for lantern slides and film materials and their literal visibility. Taking the paradigm of transparency as a theory and as a raw material (Werkstoff) with a necessary visual effect, different material properties and parameters of the transparent in early color film will be discussed.

The focus of the discussion will be on the possibilities and limitations of technologies of early film color processes in relation to their specific materials, tools and techniques for color application or imbibition in order to achieve their determining (transparent or opaque) aesthetics, as well as in the very materiality of colored analog film as a physical and artistic artifact – and thereby its faktura. With faktura I refer to twentieth-century Russian formalism and its definition of surface descriptions of materials, which is used here as a concept to describe the interaction of the nitrate base to its layer of color application. Finally, aesthetics will be crucial to further investigate pro-filmic (semi-transparent) materials in set design that were commonly used to enhance a color process as well. Therefore, the methodological approach of this research consists of (experimental) media archaeology combined with material iconography and phenomenology as well as David Bordwell’s Historical Poetics. Important sources for this research are historical manuals, material catalogues, color recipes and color samples. These sources provide insight into application techniques and their materials, branding, chemistry, physics and aesthetics of color(-ing) at the beginning of the twentieth century.

avatar for Olivia Kristina Stutz

Olivia Kristina Stutz

PhD student, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors, University of Zurich
PhD candidate on early film color in the research project "Film Colors. Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Aesthetics", funded by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council, and contributor to the Timeline of Historical Film Colors. My research focuses on the relationship... Read More →

Tuesday March 20, 2018 10:00am - 10:50am GMT
BFI Southbank NFT3 Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

11:10am GMT

Challenging the Film Stock? Diffusion and Visual Complexity in Colour Film.
Limited Capacity seats available

Film stock is often overlooked in studies of the aesthetics of chromogenic colour films.
This presentation aims to fill this gap and explore the advantages of a combined approach. A corpus of films was parsed on the basis of a computer-assisted in-depth film analysis method executed with tools from the digital humanities. Two aesthetic patterns are at the focus of this research:

Creeping wafts of mist, dazzling light spots, dense snowstorms and half-transparent fabrics can obliterate the spectators’ view and create moments of optical diffusion. Diffusion reduces the ability to read an image. Likewise, highly complex image compositions can minimize the legibility of a filmic scene. Both situations can either be narratively motivated or develop aesthetic patterns with an autonomous status, strongly shaping the films’ visual appearance and experience.
On the one hand, this paper examines the different aesthetics of these two phenomena. On the other, in the tradition of a Historical Poetics as elaborated by David Bordwell (1989), the aesthetic analyses will be connected to a close examination of the chromogenic film stocks: What developments in film stock production could be responsible for an accumulation of optical diffusion at the end of the 1970s?
The questions will be answered through an investigation of the relationship between the aesthetics and technology of chromogenic colour films in the period between 1955 and 1995.

avatar for Joëlle Kost

Joëlle Kost

PhD student, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors, University of Zurich
From 2008 to 2015 I studied Art History, Film Studies and the Theory and History of Photography at the University of Zurich. In my master thesis I developed a filmic portrait of the swiss artist MARCK and produced a 40 minutes documentary from an art historian’s perspective. Since... Read More →

Tuesday March 20, 2018 11:10am - 12:00pm GMT
BFI Southbank NFT3 Belvedere Rd, South Bank, London SE1 8XT
Wednesday, March 21

9:30am GMT

Technological Development Between Art and Politics. The Case of Gasparcolor
Limited Capacity seats available

Technological Development Between Art and Politics: The Case of Gasparcolor
Situated in between avant-gardist color theories and political constraints, the case of Gasparcolor provides a fascinating example for the interplay of various social actors with colliding attitudes towards color film technology. At the moment of Gasparcolor’s introduction in Germany in the early 1930s, several parties involved were deeply interested in the development of a technologically advanced and reliable color film technology. However, their needs and expectations diverged significantly, as they alternated between strengthening national identity, demonstrating technological prowess, and colorful artistic expression.
Arguing for the importance of cultural, socio-political and industrial aspects in the development of color film technologies, this presentation will rely on SCOT - the social construction of technology approach - and a discourse analytical approach in order to delve into unequal power relations and the negotiations of Gasparcolor through different societal groups.

avatar for Noemi Daugaard

Noemi Daugaard

PhD Candidate, SNSF Film Colors
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics, Film Studies and Art History (2013) and Master of Arts in Film Studies (2015). Since 2016 PhD candidate at the University of Zurich in the framework of the SNSF research project Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions... Read More →

Wednesday March 21, 2018 9:30am - 10:20am GMT
Clore Centre Lecture Theatre, Birkbeck University, London

10:20am GMT

Staging in Color. A Comparative Analysis of Technicolor and Agfacolor
Limited Capacity seats available

Much has been written about the technology and aesthetics of three-strip Technicolor and its place in classical Hollywood cinema. A similar literature on the German color process Agfacolor, extending beyond its role as an instrument for political propaganda during the Third Reich, is not yet present in the academic discourse on color film.
Taking the different technological principles as a starting point—mechanical versus chemical—the presentation will explore the aesthetic distinctions and similarities that arose from working with the respective film stocks in vastly different institutional contexts, albeit during roughly the same time period.
On the basis of detailed film analyses with the computer-assisted method applied in the research project, the paper focuses on the aesthetic aspects of mise en scène as described by André Bazin (1955). In the tradition of David Bordwell’s (1989) Historical Poetics, different strategies regarding the staging of the characters and their relation to the filmic space will be elaborated on and linked to the technological properties of the film color processes.

avatar for Michelle Beutler

Michelle Beutler

PhD Student, ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors, University of Zurich
Bachelor of Arts in Media and Film Studies at the University of Zurich (2011). Master of Arts in Film Studies within the Netzwerk Cinema CH at the University of Zurich, Lausanne and Basel (2016). Internship at the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, Wiesbaden and ARRI, Munich assisting... Read More →

Wednesday March 21, 2018 10:20am - 11:10am GMT
Clore Centre Lecture Theatre, Birkbeck University, London

11:30am GMT

Socialist Identity in the Making. Lea aus dem Süden (Gottfried Kolditz, GDR 1963) between French Chic, Socialist Values and Consumer Culture
Limited Capacity seats available

Das Film-Magazin Nr. 4, Teil 2 - Lea aus dem Süden (Gottfried Kolditz, GDR 1963) belongs to the fairly unknown series of humorous short films produced by the East German DEFA Film Studios between 1960 and 1964. Its production unit Stacheltier was part of the politically and economically controlled film production system of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Beginning in 1959, the seven production units followed official instructions and thematic plans of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, with the objective of collective collaboration on artistic and ideological questions.
According to the bottom-up approaches in New Film History and Media Archaeology, individual aspects of a film’s history can be revealed with the help of film and non-film sources. These aspects demonstrate that the history and mode of production of a film do not start with the shooting, but rather earlier during the manufacturing of its film stock in a specific technical, socio-political and cultural context. Following this hypothesis, the encompassing social factors shape the material properties, such as mimetic colour film processes, that are based on chromogenic development, as well as their narrative and aesthetic functions.
Lea aus dem Süden has been digitized and analysed by various scientific criteria in the framework of the projects ERC Advanced Grant Film Colors and SNSF Film Colors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions in cooperation with the DEFA Foundation. Different interrelations between material and film history will be addressed in this paper on the basis of this case study. This paper deals with the cultural and discursive practices associated with this colour film, shot in Agfacolor, and the ways in which they are intertwined with the political tensions of the time the film (stock) was produced. Furthermore, the presented topics of consumer and leisure culture foster the blurring of boundaries between socialist and capitalist identity formation shortly after the construction of the Berlin Wall. These undeniable connections raise questions about the individual identity of a society and its films that are usually referred to as typically “national” and require further debates about the application of corresponding terms.

avatar for Josephine Diecke

Josephine Diecke

PhD Student, SNSF Project Filmcolors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions
Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and French Philology at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (2013). International Master of Arts in Audiovisual and Cinema Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main (2016) with a master thesis on the theoretical, practical... Read More →

Wednesday March 21, 2018 11:30am - 12:20pm GMT
Clore Centre Lecture Theatre, Birkbeck University, London