Archive Theory and Found Footage in Contemporary Screen Media Works

Archive Theory and Found Footage in Contemporary Screen Media Works (Dr Annie Ring, University College London)

Informed by archival research in Berlin as well as filmmaker interviews, this subproject approaches its topic via an internal reading group, a public workshop, and a conference paper and journal article that feed into a future monograph on contemporary German and Austrian film. The subproject is informed by cultural-theoretical approaches to the archive as a site of the preservation and generation of knowledge by mid-twentieth century theorists (Derrida, De Certeau, Foucault), and more recent writings on the digital archive as a site of knowledge production across national borders (Katherine Hayles, Orit Halpern, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun).

For both groups of archive theorists, archives are not stable or neutral sites for holding knowledge; instead the architectures and apparatuses of a given archive construct both the knowledge held in them and the self-understanding of the societies to which they pertain. The subproject considers recent screen media works by German-speaking directors that engage big data and digital archives as dynamic sites that cross national borders to produce new relations of knowledge and power. The project corpus comprises experimental documentaries, gallery and online installations that sample found footage from sources including activist material, surveillance and historical actuality. These works offer illuminating engagements with questions of the archive and contemporary politics: engagements rooted in part in issues in German history, but that extend to global questions of surveillance, technology and politics.