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Video: Philipps-Universität Marburg

About the Project   

The significance of film magazines for delivering information on early or local film screening practices and now lost films can hardly be overestimated—which is also reflected in the frequency with which early film magazines, articles on films and advertisements in newspapers and general interest magazines are cited or evaluated in works on film history. However, with this research goal, film magazines were used mainly as secondary research objects, as historical sources or considered as a medium to retrace debates on film theory (most famously of course in the Cahiers du Cinéma).

The project «Seeing Film between the Lines: Remediation and Aesthetics of the Film Periodical» asks instead: what kind of film knowledge and film understanding do the small archives of the illustrated film magazines negotiate in their presentation and selection—precisely in their (hitherto mainly disregarded) visuality, in their appearance, in their sensual material presence. The project analyses German illustrated film periodicals from the early days of the cinema to the 1970s.

These periodicals constitute special-interest publications in which the remediation of film is inscribed. This study object allows us observe how one medium (the periodical) represents another (film) within a media constellation, and how photography (or the specific reproduction technique) may serve as a hinge between the two media. It is through photographs that refer to films that the film periodical acquires its own, albeit continually changing identity, and it is the contours of this changing visual identity that the project aims to trace. Emphasis is placed on the fact that film and the periodical are not fixed quantities but are reciprocally produced on an ongoing basis via the likewise evolving identity of photography.

The central questions to be pursued are: what do we understand as a photograph and a film when these media are approached from the perspective of the periodical? What does this ultimately say about the remediation process and the self-conception of film periodicals? And how are special-interest periodicals and their content visually produced through their competition with, distance from, and accompaniment of other (print) media?

Film periodicals also constitute sites at which various types of media logics intersect. While the film is characterised by its unfolding in the present, its transient reception, and its status as a completed work, the photo is understood as a reference to what is past, as an enduring medium, and as a fragment. Photographs of films, however, refer forward as well as backward, and are embedded in a textual, pictorial, and structural context: they refer to the film that the reader is still to see or will only see via these photographs and/or they refer back to a film experience that has already taken place. Furthermore, photographs are not presented in isolation in film periodicals; they appear alongside other elements on the page. The project pursues this distinctive integration of photographs that both refer to films and form part of the periodical as a visible surface.

Foto: Vincent Fröhlich