The experiment of a digital tool within a university film workshop.This paper is intended to draw the first outcomes of a film analysis workshop which consisted in the collaborative annotation of a co
The experiment of a digital tool within a university film workshop.This paper is intended to draw the first outcomes of a film analysis workshop which consisted in the collaborative annotation of a corpus of films with a digital technology. During the first semester of 2013, it gathered nearly sixty students from the University of Lille (France) and aimed at documenting the collections of the French National Library by creating a mind-map of metadata which could later be enriched by other contributors.As a teacher and researcher, I had been testing a digital tool, Lignes de temps, as a supporting device for courses or academic conferences. Lignes de temps, both a stand-alone software and a Web platform, was created in 2006 by the Institute of Research and Innovation of the Centre Pompidou (IRI). Under the impetus of its founder Bernard Stiegler, a philosopher concerned with the idea that digital technologies might be instruments of oppression as well as means of emancipation, the IRI has developed several digital tools intended to question our conception of knowledge and culture in the age of mass communication and digital media. For that purpose, it has created technologies for the scientific and educational community as well as applications for amateurs, encouraging new cultural practices and collaborative criticism. Lignes de temps has been specifically designed for educational practice: it consists of an editing software look-like interface which offers the possibility of annotating and tagging video sequences. Within the educational context of film studies, it seemed to me that experimenting this digital tool in an academic workshopcould lead to transform a literary exercise (the classical model of film analysis) into a critical and collective contribution on images themselves. Turning students into active viewers, able to directly comment and add information on videos, this workshop wasintended as a collaborative writing process for documenting a corpus of films related to the figures of metamorphosis, ranging from Jacques Tourneur’s classic Cat People to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s more sensory work Tropical Malady.To me, this was also an opportunity to redefine film analysis as a way to question our vision of films and our stance as viewers rather than only acquiring a cultural knowledge. Every group of students was invited to reflect on their own methodology of analysis, more or less discursive, keeping in mind that each group’s work on a specific film would participate in a broader reflection on the aesthetic types and narrative stakes of metamorphosis in film. Thus, the students were not only commenting films, adding information or personal interpretations – as they usually do when reacting to videos on Youtube for example – they were becoming their ownteachers, inventing their own models of analysis. This appears to me as an interesting illustration of one of Jacques Rancière’s most stimulating notion, that of an “emancipated spectator”, through which he means a viewer who would transform his vision of films and spectacles into a critical knowledge. In other words, to see is also to know and to act.
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