In this stage of the process I am following two main directions:
1. Searching the archives
Since I have already quite a clear subject, newsreels & technology, I have mainly been looking at the archive of the Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision through the Polygoon collection, which contains newsreels from 1921 to 1987. I’ve been making an inventory of newsreels which talk about technology / automation / factories and making notes about the subjects presented, year, words used in the descriptions, types of images, appearance of people vs appearance of machines, types of music, etc. I am currently trying to categorise the videos based on these notes in order to see some statistics more clearly.
Alongside this, I’ve also been browsing both the archives from Sound and Vision and Het Nieuwe Instituut quite randomly (searching random keywords) trying to find interesting images that spark ideas or that I can use in the future for visual experiments. Here are some examples that caught my attention:
This is an example of a very strong image that I found while watching newsreels which I definetly plan to use in the future for visual experiments and make use of it in the story I want to tell. It has a perfect mix of creepy and cute!
I found this poster and I liked the humor in the way it gives cars unpleasant human characteristics.
I really like the appearance of this train maquette made out of plaster, it makes it look like an ancient artifact. This would also be an example of an interesting object that I would like to somehow integrate in my story.
2. Doing theoretical research in order to refine my concept and define a more clear outline of the project
I’ve been reading about newsreels, their purpose, influence and uses, including an interesting case study about the way in which newsreels were basically used as propaganda in the USA to change the people’s perception about the nuclear tests from the Bikini Atoll (https://www.jstor.org/stable/41940524?readnow=1&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents). This helps me understand better their context and the conditions under which they were made.
Reading ‘The War of Words’ by Kenneth Burke, a study of news rhetorics. Here I plan to get a better understanding of rhetorical devices, identify some of them in the archive materials and possibly use some in the future. (https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520298125/the-war-ofwords) Some questions naturally arise from both directions, for example:
– would the newsreel format be relavant today or in the future, in which context?
– what would be today’s equivalent of a newsreel, which format and which medium would it appear
– what is my relation with the archives and do I want to make that apparent in the project?
– while working with archives from The Netherlands, do I want to keep this context or make it more
Since my initial proposal for this project I am gravitating towards making a video or a series of videos with a story that acts as a metaphor about news rhetorics on technology, made out of materials from the two archives, remixed. I am now trying to define the story, point of view and timeframe and writing down small ideas for the video(s). All in all, in this stage I am both browsing the archives for interesting materials and for identifying rhetorical strategies I can use for the final video, but also trying to develop my concept so that I have a more precise focus when looking for materials in the archives. The next step is starting to do some visual experiments with some archive materials, which is very exciting!