RE MI was a two-year European cooperation project (2015-2016) run by Mire (Nantes, FR), WORM’s Filmwerkplaats (Rotterdam) 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. The project will involve other film labs, cinemas, art schools and other cultural organizations, as well as a broad international audience of film enthusiasts.
With the digital shift in the cinema industry, film is experiencing a decisive moment where its form and cultural position must be redefined. A great amount of knowledge and skills, which has been gathered over more than a century of cinema’s existence, risks being lost. Former film technicians are retiring without successors, machines are abandoned or scrapped and films are decaying without being preserved. Without a large communal effort this intangible cultural heritage is about to disappear.
As a response, filmmakers, artists, amateurs and enthusiasts have come together to conserve the culture of photochemical film. Over the last decades, all over the globe, we have formed independent film labs and we have gained access to a large quantity of discarded equipment that previously would have been beyond our reach.
Our organisations bring together people who use the tools of photochemical filmmaking to create innovative, personal, conceptual, political, and experimental works of cinematic art. Despite different artistic approaches, the common thread is the importance of the medium in their practice. Whether it is because of the intrinsic qualities or the irregularities of the images produced, of the possibilities inherent in the photochemical process, of the optical properties offered by mechanical projection or what it means today to use film in the digital era, the result is the emergence of a wide spectrum of creative forms that continue to push the boundaries of what cinema as an art form can be.
This work moves forward outside of the film industry, relying on economic models where artistic concerns are placed in the foreground and artists are given a freedom to break rules, to create new forms and explore what others could not within a commercial, profit-based system. Today this practice of recuperation and appropriation seems the only way to preserve knowledge and tools, which risks to otherwise disappear.
This situation recalls the early history of film where research and invention were the driving force in the creation of a new art. The pioneers of photochemical research with their constant exploration of different technological forms and creative directions can inspire us and become a logical starting point for this new collective endeavour.
The Seminar Handmade Emulsion Primitive Colour – June 2016 – a week of research during which participants will exchange knowledge, conduct practical experiments and test new formulas in order to take significant steps in this research. Participants: Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez (LaborBerlin, DE), Robert Schaller (Handmade Film Institute, USA) , Josh Lewis (Negativland, USA), Kevin Rice (Process Reversal, USA), Alex MacKenzie (Iris Film Collective, CAN), Lindsay McIntyre (CAN), Chloe Reyes (Echo Park Film Center, USA) and Esther Urlus (WORM.Filmwerkplaats, NL).
Handmade Emulsion Primitive Colour – June 2016 – is a research panel on the potential for innovation of the analogue film medium. Its focus centres on the scientific and artistic research of the forgotten, abandoned and unexplored areas of the photochemical processes used to create film material and colour. Guest speakers: Giovanna Fossati, professor of Film Heritage and Digital Film Culture, Head Curator Eye Film Institute Amsterdam. Brian Pritchard, Early Cinema techniques and colour film specialist. Restorer of the first colour film made in 1902, British National Media Museum. Rossela Catanese, tutor of the academic Master in Digital Audiovisual Restoration at the Sapienza University of Rome. And rtist-filmmakers: Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez (LaborBerlin, DE), Robert Schaller (Handmade Film Institute, USA) , Josh Lewis (Negativland, USA), Kevin Rice (Process Reversal, USA), Alex MacKenzie (Iris Film Collective, CAN), Lindsay McIntyre (CAN) and Esther Urlus (WORM.Filmwerkplaats, NL).
Handmade Emulsion Workshop – July 2016 – a 2-day workshop, experience a taste of 19th century darkroom magic and create an B&W silver gelatin emulsion on 16mm film. With Lindsay McIntyre.