RE MI is a two-year European cooperation project 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.
Decisive Moment for Film
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.
Early History of Film
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.