The museum of public art

On May 26, 2013, in Art, Galleries, by Luke McKernan

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Exhibits in the Swedish Hall, part of of Skissernas, or the Museum of Public Art, Lund, Sweden

I was in the town of Lund in southern Sweden last week, attending a seminar on newsreels, which I’ll write about in due course. Lund is a pleasant, quiet town of around 100,000, almost half of which are students. I had half a day in which to mooch around the town, and so it was that I came across Skissernas, or the Museum of Public Art, which instantly became one of my all-time favourite art galleries. So newsreels later, art now.

Skissernas (meaning sketches) was founded in 1934 by Ragnar Josephson, Professor of Art History at the University of Lund. His plan was to collect sketches, models, photographs or other preliminary versions of works of public art. The intention was to document the creative process and to concentrate on an area of artistic production that was seldom exhibited and not always collected elsewhere. Artists responded to the novel plan with enthusiasm, with donations helping to boost the collection quickly at relatively low cost. The emphasis on works which had been originally displayed in public places gave the museum an additional element of originality. In short, there is no other museum or gallery like it.

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The International Hall, featuring art works on the ceiling. The sketch top right is Matisse’s Stations of the Cross, designed for the Chapelle du Rosaire, Vence in France in 1951. The large design top left is Sonia Delaunay, ‘Instrument Panel’, a mural painting for the Air Pavilion, The World´s Fair, Paris, 1937

The special quality of the place is apparent the moment you enter the first exhibition room, the Swedish Hall. You are hit by an overwhelming display of images which are unfamiliar, eye-catching and presented in amazing profusion. We are used to art galleries arranging paintings at a respectful distance from one other, sometimes with huge areas of empty space so as not to interfere with the special aura of any one particular work. Not so here. The sketches and paintings are everywhere, crammed next door to one another, reaching up to the ceiling, and – in the next-door International Hall – spreading out over the ceiling as well. Large labels are necessary to identify works placed so high, but this becomes a virtue in itself, as you can see immediately the artist’s name, title and date of the work without having to peer up close. Combined with statues large and small dotted about the rooms, the effect is quite exhilarating. An absence of heavy frames accentuates the immediacy and appealing rough-and-ready nature of the exhibition. There is even a viewing gallery up a flight of stairs, enabling you to see the works higher up at better advantage (also offering excellent views down upon the works below).

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A Modern Picture Gallery (1824) by William Frederick Witherington, from Wimpole Hall, Royston, via Your Paintings

There was once a time when all art galleries were like this. Paintings such as William Frederick Witherington’s ‘A Modern Picture Gallery’ from the early 19th century illustrate a time when it was usual to pile in as many pictures as could be fitted onto the walls, the emphasis being in the cornucopia of delights rather than to hymn any individual work of art. The result, in such paintings, looks a little overwhelming, even absurd, but I think that is due in some part to the sameiness of the artworks and the frames. In the Museum of Public Art a great diversity of work clamours for the eye’s attention, exciting the brain and in a strange way accentuating the appeal of the individual works. It also gives a sense of being in an artist’s studio, appropriate for a museum dedicated to documenting work-in-progress. One’s immediate reaction is to wish that some, if not all galleries could be like this. It is the very opposite of pretension.

The main gallery has four halls: Swedish, International, Mexican (being renovated on the day of my visit) and Sculpture. The first floor area contains temporary exhibitions, and there are assorted works playfully arranged outside in the Museum’s sculpture park.

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Anne Thulin’s ‘Doubble Dribble Wanås-Lund’ (2011), placed in one of the trees in the Museum’s sculpture park

There are many Swedish and Nordic artists on display, including Sigrid Hjertén, Stellan Mörner, Hugo Gehlin and Isaac Grünewald. Among the more celebrated names in the International, Mexican and Sculpture Halls are Fernand Leger, Diego Rivera, Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Christo, Raoul Dufy and Marc Chagall. None of the work is familiar, each being works that were originally displayed in public areas, often for a short period of time and not generally represented in galleries. Photographs are occasionally displayed showing the art work in its actual location. Examples include Matisse’s sketches for his Chapelle du Rosaire at Vence and Diego Rivera’s ‘The New Deal’, part of a mural painting for New Workers´ School in 1933. These were works designed to catch the eye in public spaces, and this commanding nature is excitingly captured in the high-ceilinged halls.

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Detail from Diego Rivera’s ‘New Deal’

Upstairs the galleries are mostly dedicated to temporary exhibitions – at the time I was there, this meant ‘Species of Space’, the work of sixteen students from the Masters Program in Fine Arts at the Malmö Art Academy. These imaginative and sometimes witty works fitted in well with the imaginative responses to particular spaces and commissions that existed downstairs, though the works were separated from one another a little more conventionally. This is inevitable, given the taste for irregular forms that the art of today now takes, but I missed the the profusion of the lowers halls, with their sense of democracy, vitality and opportunity.

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Full scale model for bronze doors designed for the Historical Museum, Stockholm, in 1952, by Bror Marklund. The left-hand gate shows heathendom and the right-hand Christianity in Sweden

It makes you think why we have the galleries that we do have. They are spaces designed for exhibition, of course, but also for contemplation and perambulation. We (mentally) genuflect before each work, and then move on. It is the physical expression of leafing one’s way through a handsomely produced catalogue. Indeed, given the mass worship there is at major art exhibitions, following the intended narrative through a catalogue becomes the only way to enjoy the exhibition in its ideal form, as opposed to the scrum in the gallery itself. At Skissernas we are obliged to stand still, and marvel at all that has been arranged about us.

There should be more chaos in how we present art, more wonderment and less reverence. Of course it is good to go to a gallery and contemplate some fine work by itself – though that in itself is a rejection of the conveyor belt-like experience that conventional galleries offer us. I would not want every gallery to be like the one in Lund, but I would quite like to see some, and never before have I visited such an exhibiion and come out with the overwhelming wish to build such a space myself. There are different ways of seeing.

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The Skissernas Museum / Museum of Public Art website has information on the museum’s history, its permanent and temporary exhibitions, and illustrates some (though I wish it were more) of the works on display.

 

Metadata matters

On May 19, 2013, in Archives, Conferences, Technology, Television, by Luke McKernan

lod-cloud

Linking Open Data cloud diagram, by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch, showing datasets that have been published in Linked Data format. http://lod-cloud.net, made available under a CC-BY-SA licence

I started out my career in moving images back in 1986, as a cataloguer. I worked at the National Film Archive (as it then was), describing the films and television programmes that we acquired by country, title, date, creators and performers. The films were indexed according to subject – we used the Universal Decimal Classification system, or UDC – and on occasion were shotlisted in detail. We were a professional and dedicated team in the cataloguing department, proud of our work, and able to serve general, specialist and commercial enquirers according to need. We weren’t able to keep up entirely with the level of acquisition or, more particularly, the inherited backlog, but backlogs were a part of what made an archive in any case.

Those days are gone. Considering each film in turn and in detail, generating thousands of subject index cards, indulging in the minutiae of shotlisting, producing a catalogue that people had to come and see at our London office or else they would have little idea about what we held at all: all that would not be sustainable now. It was another age.

We weren’t blind to the rise of computer technologies. On the contrary, we had our first computer entry system in place by the mid-80s, using it first to generate a non-fiction print catalogue before adapting it into a database which was maintained in parallel with the paper-based system. We could see the obvious advantages of electronic systems for bringing together common fields to the ideal discovery mechanism. We saw ourselves as always managing such systems. But time moves on.

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The Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision (on a sunnier day than the two we experienced for the FIAT/IFTA Media Management seminar)

It is 2013, and now I find myself at the FIAT/IFTA seminar Metadata as the Cornerstone of Digital Archiving, held at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, 16-17 May. Essentially its theme was how we are building the automated, self-generating broadcast archive, and where our role as humans lies in this as the machines themselves become ever smarter, learning from ourselves and from the very content that they manage.

Metadata – such an ugly word – is generally defined to mean ‘data about data’. It is structured information. When you produce a Word document and save it, the properties state what type of document it is, when it was produced, when it was subsequently edited, who wrote it, how many words it uses, and so on. That is metadata. When you take a photograph with your phone or digital camera, you capture not only the image but an array of information about that image – when it was taken, with what make of camera, where it was taken, with what settings. That is metadata.

Digital objects requires this intelligence so that they can be stored and read again. Such intelligence also enables us to collate, sort and build up resources based on digital objects with common information. That is what a database does, and our world – from Google upwards – is driven by databases. So metadata matters.

Half of the FIAT seminar was devoted to core metadata such as this. It is hugely important for broadcast archives, now that production workflows and preservation needs are predominantly digital, to get their data in order. The issues are complex, and look to be breeding a new kind of moving image archivist best able to deal with them, but the essential details are well-understood, with guidelines such as PREMIS developed by the Library of Congress literally setting the standards.

But it was the other half that most interested me – the metadata that describes the content rather than the carrier, and the degree to which such metadata is now being generated automatically. Digital objects come embedded with huge amounts of information about themselves, particularly in the audiovisual field, and we are only just starting to to learn how to extract such information and make it reusable.

For example, a lot was said about subtitles. Many television programmes are broadcast with a subtitle stream included as part of the digital signal, designed for the hard of hearing. Such subtitles are graphics rather than text (i.e. they are bitmap images), but through a process of optical character recognition (OCR) they can be converted into word-searchable text. That gives you a handy account of everything that was said in a programme, but you can also match those words to dictionaries and thesauri, such as DBpedia, the Web community’s source of structured information derived from Wikipedia. These keywords can then be employed to enable searches to be made across different datasets, linking your TV programmes to other programmes, or other information sources. This is what they called Linked Data, the mechanism that lies at the heart of Tim Berners-Lee’s vision for the next stage of development for the World Wide Web, the Semantic Web.

Linked Data works on a principle of particular Web standards: http, uniform resource indicators or URIs, and the RDF metadata model that joins up information in sets of triples as subject-predicate-object e.g. “Charles Dickens [subject] is the author of [predicate] Great Expectations [object]”. The details need not concern us here. What is interesting is to see how the principles can be applied not just to an obvious data stream such as subtitles, but to other sets of information contained within audiovisual media.

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Xavier Jacques-Jourion of RTBF demonstrating the GEMS semantic-based multimedia browser prototype, with video top-left and automatically-generated metadata linked to open data sources below

I’ve already written here about the great potential of speech-to-text technologies for opening up speech archives. The various means by which a digital speech track can be converted into readable text have come very much to the fore of late, and there was a real sense at the seminar of this being the next leap forward for broadcast archives. What can be done with subtitles can potentially be done with any speech file – including radio, of course. There were three impressive demonstrations of speech-to-text in action. Yves Raimond of BBC R&D showed how the World Service digital archive is gained enriched descriptions through a mixture of rough speech-to-text generating keywords (rather than transcripts – such technologies seldom produce perfect transcripts) which were then enhanced through ‘crowdsourcing’ i.e. getting volunteers to improve them. Sarah-Haye Aziz of Radiotelevisione Svizzera (Italian-speaking Swiss TV) showed how they had adopted speech-to-text to improve in-house indexing of their programmes. And Xavier Jacques-Jourion of Belgian broadcaster RTBF demonstrated the hugely impressive GEMS, a prototype for a semantic-based multimedia browser. What that means is that the system links data extracted from both traditional sources and speech-to-text, then combines it with Linked Open Data via a smart graphical user interface, or web page to you and me. So a programme which talks about parks (which might be covered by a regular catalogue record) in which trees are discussed (which might not be in a regular catalogue record) is linked automatically to other web resources about trees, contextualising the tree that appears in the programme you are searching. Likewise for events, locations, persons and so on. It’s called entity extraction, and it is going to loom large in our lives, and soon.

But that’s just the start of it. Cees Snoek of the Intelligent Systems Lab at the University of Amsterdam talked us through the practicalities and possibilities of image searching. This is the holy grail for many in the Web world – and many in the surveillance and security industries as well. It’s easy for a computer to find an image if you tell it what that image signifies through adding a description (that’s how Google Images works), but it’s a lot harder for that computer to recognise what a image means without any textual help. It just sees patterns. So the task is to train computer to discriminate between such patterns, training it to understand the co-ordinates of a particular shape and what that signifies, then being able to recognise similar objects elsewhere. We were shown how a computer had been trained to recognise boats by working from a set of images that showed boats, and others that didn’t. It found a lot of boats, but also thought an oil platform was a boat, and likewise a car driving on a wet road.

Systems like this can be found online, but it’s where Snoek took us next that start to make the mind boggle. Why might not a machine analyse a video to make a sentence, or description, from what it sees? By training computers with ‘concept vocabularies’ (ideas rather than simple words) the machine would be able to link together intelligently the images that it sees contained within that video. The video would essentially describe itself.

Who will need cataloguers now?

And there was more. Sam Davies of BBC R&D introduced us to their word on mood-based classification of broadcast archives. By getting actual human beings (they still have their uses) to watch a set of programmes and judge which parts of them were happy, sad, serious, angry etc, and matching such classification to the digital patterning of those programmes, you start to have a system which can be applied to a vast corpus of broadcast content and thereby tell you which programmes are comedies, news, thrillers, or more particularly which programmes excite which kinds of emotions in people. Davies told us that the next step was to combine this means of determining the emotion-led content of programmes with other meaningful data – the affective and the semantic. The machine will know not just what was meant, but what we will feel about what was meant.

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BBC R&D’s prototype mood classification system for discovery of iPlayer programme content, via http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/mood-metadata

So what role is there for humans in the world of machine-generated intelligence? There was much muttering among the archivists in the audience who wanted to see skill and judgment valued above the random nature of automatic extraction and linking. There were some interesting figures bandied about. Sarah-Haye Aziz reckoned that in the future 90% of routine cataloguing would be done by machines, 10% high quality work by humans. Lora Aroyo of Free University Amsterdam, talking about the ingenious Dutch crowdsourcing tool Waisda?, which gets members of the public to tag archive TV programmes as a game, found that when it came to getting the public to choose subject terms, 8% occured in the professional vocabularies of archivists and cataloguers, 23% were to be found in the Dutch lexicon, and 89% were found on Google. People and archivists don’t speak the same language.

They don’t have to speak the same language, of course. Cataloguing is about discriminating between different types of information, and applying skill to how you describe what is before you. It is more trustworthy information. But traditional catalogues belong to a different era, one where the cultural institution knew best. That’s no longer case, or at least not necessarily so. Cultural organisations want to have a much closer, sharing relationship with their public. Projects such as the public tagging of art for the Rijksmmuseum and the UK’s Your Paintings (both covered here previously) point the way. Of course both have proper cataloguing descriptions underpinning those works of art, and have simply opened up to the public new ways of classifying their collections by subject or mood. No one is asking the public to tell them who the painter might be, or who the programme maker was. That’s the 10% that we must leave to the human specialist, for the time being. But the remaining 90% will be decided by the machine. And it is getting more and more intelligent at doing so.

Links:

 

I remember # 2

On May 9, 2013, in I remember, by Luke McKernan

31. I remember walking along a garden path towards a gate, my earliest memory.

32. I remember Peter and Jane.

33. I remember Alberto y Los Trios Paraguayos.

34. I remember that the last film to be shown at the Academy cinema in Oxford Street was Dangerous Moves, a Swiss film about chess.

35. I remember Bazooka Joe bubble gum.

36. I remember David Hemery winning the 400m hurdles at the 1968 Olympic Games.

37. I remember it being reported that footballers were getting more intelligent after Brian Hall BSc joined Liverpool.

38. I remember Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but seldom the other guy.

39. I remember Bishan Bedi and his turban.

40. I remember being woken up and allowed downstairs to see The Seekers sing ‘Morning Town Ride’, my favourite song, on evening television.

41. I remember ink wells.

42. I remember Wei Wei Wong.

43. I remember wearing long trousers for the first time.

44. I remember a promo film for Alice Cooper’s song ‘Elected’ in which a woman interviewed in the street said she thought he would make as good a US president as anyone.

45. I remember rods, poles, perches and chains (a chain being 22 yards, or the length of a cricket pitch).

46. I remember being offered a toy policeman’s helmet and saying that I didn’t want it, when in fact I wanted it more than anything.

47. I remember reading Pilgrim’s Progress.

48. I remember being especially fond of the puppet mouse Nana Mouskouri would talk to on her TV show.

49. I remember going to a university dance and realising that every girl in the room had a haircut like Lady Diana.

50. I remember Guy the Gorilla.

51. I remember S-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-mon Dee (and his E-Type Jag).

52. I remember feeling terribly sad at the lyrics to Hot Chocolate’s ‘Brother Louie’, in which the parents of a mixed race couple were equally prejudiced against the other.

53. I remember shoes with animal footprints on the soles.

54. I remember Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.

55. I remember Bleep and Booster.

56. I remember finding myself at the edge of a shower of rain – a step to the left and I was wet, a step to the right and I was dry.

57. I remember Marmite fritters.

58. I remember laughing so much I thought I couldn’t breathe any more.

59. I remember Mouldy Old Dough.

 

What is restoration?

On May 2, 2013, in Archives, Conferences, Film, Television, Video, by Luke McKernan

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Lawrence of Arabia – before restoration, from Creative Cow

Today I attended What is Restoration?, a one-day conference on the subject of film and video restoration, organised by FOCAL International and hosted by the BFI Southbank. FOCAL International organises an annual set of awards for use of footage in film and television productions. The awards include two for film restorations: one for best single title restoration, one for best multiple-title restoration project. For the past seven years, I have been one of the judges for the restoration award. And it was the thoughts of the judges over several years about just what it was that they were judging that led to the conference.

Originally we had just the one award, for best restoration, and each year we were sent a bundle of DVDs (not in itself the ideal medium for judging a restoration, but often it is all that can be made available) from which to make our scoring, judging each title according to overall quality of the restoration, its fidelity or integrity to the original content and form (e.g. aspect ratio, correct silent film speed), the use of digital technology in the process of restoration (where relevant), the suitability of the title for restoration, and how it has been presented to the public. So we try to be as scientific about the process as possible.

But increasingly we have found it difficult, not to say impossible, to compare like with like. We were judging feature films alongside large-scale multiple-title projects (even entire news archives have been submitted). We were seeing television titles on videotape, for which the processes of restoration (if that was even the right term) were quite different to film. We were trying to compare work undertaken by small archives subsisting on minimal funding with work undertaken by major film studios. It was not a level playing field.

We successfully persuaded FOCAL to add another award, for multiple-item projects, and since 2006 these are the titles which have won the awards:

2006 Mitchell and Kenyon Collection (1900-1913), restored by BFI
2007 The Master’s Edition Norman McLaren, restored by National Film Board of Canada
2008 Documentaries Centenaries, restored by BFI
2009 Set of Kinora reels of golf (c.1911), restored by R&A Archive and Blue Post Production
2010 The Red Shoes (1948), restored by ITV/BFI/The Film Foundation/UCLA Film and Television Archive
2011 Single title: The Great White Silence (1924), restored by BFI
2011 Project: The Chaplin Keystone Project, restored by Lobster Films
2012 Single title: A Trip to the Moon (1902), restored by Lobster Films
2012 Project: The Desmet Collection, restored by EYE Film Institute

(for the 2013 winners, you’ll have to wait until you get to the bottom of this post)

But we would like to see more awards, indeed a full set of awards that represent the full diversity of film and video restoration work by archives, facility houses and studios, large and small. Needing to walk before we run, however, FOCAL suggested a one-day conference ahead of its evening main awards ceremony, in which we would debate issues around preservation and restoration, and present extra awards to some of the most noteworthy productions sent for judging this time around. Hence today’s event, What is Restoration?

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Lawrence of Arabia – after restoration

The question is a pertinent one. Film archives have found themselves at a crossroads, as celluloid comes to the end of its commercial life, and digital restoration takes over. Digital is what audiences want, and it is changing how audiences see. Several speakers at the end lamented the bright, flat, synthetic look of some many digital versions of feature films from the past, but what looks (supposedly) good on large screen HD TVs across the sitting rooms of the land is what is determining the aesthetic. For most archives a full restoration means producing 35mm film elements as well as digital outputs, but this is expensive, and in any case is a restoration what meant to recover what was seen once in the film’s heyday, or what audiences expect now?

And then there is the question of video restoration. Why does it not have the same cultural cachet as film restoration? We judges rarely get to see video or TV titles submitted, yet some excellent work goes on in broadcasters and studios that needs championing. Without such championing, others may treat video with less than the attention it deserves. I have been dismayed by some slapdash, cheap releases on DVD of what should be regarded as TV classics, but because the market was presumably deemed small, and because few seem to think in terms of restored TV (unless it was shot on film), so you get lowest common denominator results. We need more opportunities to see video restorations, to get people talking about them, to encourage more such work, and to praise those doing the best work. We need to be giving out awards.

Then there is the work of smaller archives, whose collections often comprise amateur films, industrial production, home movies and the like. How can you compare their work to restoration work on a feature film? Is what they do ‘restoration’? Some would say no, but surely restoration is not just a technical process but also a process of restoring a film (or video) to public consciousness, delivering it to new audiences in appropriate contexts. That’s the sort of work regional film archives do, restoring local films back to their communities. As judges we’ve always been interested in this broader concept of restoration, as the process of bringing the film (or video) fully back to today. Restoration is about making the object meaningful.

There was a great line-up of speakers to address the issues. The keynote address was given by the doyen of film restorer, Grover Crisp of Sony Pictures Entertainment, who spoke about the celluloid/digital divide, and the great importance of respecting the original vision – usually of the cinematographer rather the director, the latter being more prone to changing their mind about things and wanting new technologies to ‘rectify’ the limitations of the old. He showed us a clip from the mind-boggling 8K restoration of Lawrence of Arabia, where you can now pick out more detail than was seen at the time i.e. it has gone beyond the capabilities of the best film print to show fine detail that is nevertheless there in the negative. Is this restoration, or something beyond it? Crisp said the aim was to achieve what was in the eye of the filmmaker.

Cecilia Cenciarelli, Restoration and Archival Manager at the Cineteca di Bologna and the World Cinema Foundation (an organisation founded by Martin Scorsese to restore world cinema titles) reminded us that restoration was not just a technical process – “it’s about recovering the past”. It is great to see the WCF’s true dedication towards world cinema, devoting attention to titles from Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia, as much as the USA.

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Michael Barrett presents Nationwide, from http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk

Charles Fairall and Steve Bryant from the BFI spoke about video restoration, where the challenge is more the obsolesence of video equipment (with consequent need to keep obsolete equipment in good shape and scour eBay for spare parts) that deterioration of the medium itself. It was heartening to see clips from a 1970s edition of the homely BBC magazine series Nationwide – as worthy a candidate for ‘restoration’ as Lawrence of Arabia, just totally different in its cultural value. These were recovered from tapes made with the now very rare Shibaden videotape recorder, with bespoke parts having to be constructed by the archive to make the machine function once more.

Frank Gray of regional film archive Screen Archive South East ruffled a few feathers when he asked whether what we were doing was more re-creation than restoration. He didn’t mean by this that we’re manipulating the past (i.e. using digital to change films for the supposedly better – though there are some who believe they can do this). He meant that we are not in any real sense returning these objects to a former state. We’re not going back to an original – we’re building something from it. Art restoration involves repairing an original, but film restoration builds generation upon generation, taking us further away while we imagine we are getting closer. Is restoration just a romantic conceit?

Zuzana Zabkova of Cinepost Production presented a case study on 1936 German musical comedy Glückskinder, which raised questions for some about what was a suitable subject for restoration, because Glückskinder is no masterpiece. But do we only restore ‘masterpieces’? Isn’t that just snobbish, or narrowly auteurist? Surely restoration has to be about more than bowing before the elected few?

A panel discussion followed, with Clyde Jeavons (curator of the London Film Festival’s archive strand and one of the FOCAL judges), Grover Crisp, Davide Pozzi (L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna), Elif Kaynakci (EYE Film Institute), James White (Film Restoration and Remastering Consultant), Bryony Dixon (BFI), Adrian Wood (Archival Film Consultant and another of the FOCAL judges) and David Walsh (Imperial War Museums). It was an interesting, wide-ranging debate, that focussed on training, on the value of film (they love film, they work with digital) and on how very much they were not involved in re-creation, thank you. They weren’t fully representative of the restoration world, with film still very much to the fore, and I asked my question whether we should be thinking of video restoration in the same terms, so that it might one day gain the same cultural clout. Film has glamour, video does not, admitted David Walsh. Bringing glamour to video is what I think we should try and do. The rewards will be great.

In the middle of all this we gave out our extra awards, and then in the evening the two main restoration awards were made, as part of the full FOCAL awards ceremony. That’s over now, so I can announce the winners now. Warm congratulations to all:

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN THE FIELD OF FILM RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION: Grover Crisp

SPECIAL AWARDS FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE FIELD OF RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION:

FOR THE SUPPORT OF FILM RESTORATION ACROSS THE WORLD: The World Cinema Foundation
PRESERVATION FILM LABORATORY OF THE YEAR: L’Immagine Ritrovata
FOR OUTSTANDING SOUND RESTORATION WORK: Queen: Hungarian Rhapsody

SINGLE TITLE AWARD: Sony Pictures Entertainment for LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
MAJOR PROJECT AWARD: BBC Worldwide for LIFE ON EARTH and TRIALS OF LIFE

So television won an award – but it was TV shot on film! I hope next year we’ll be judging another fine crop of works, and this time there will be works from across the full spectrum of our moving image heritage – and that they can be awarded appropriately.

Links:

  • Details of past winners of the FOCAL International awards can be found here
  • A good place to learn about film restoration today is the site of Immagine Ritrovato in Bologna, perhaps the world’s leading specialist restoration lab (site in English and Italian)
  • Film and video preservationist Josh Ranger recently wrote an interesting and provocative post on the ‘elitist’ nature of much film restoration, focussing on so-called great works when the greater part of film and video productions to be found in archives lie neglected
  • The BFI holds an annual Missing – Believed Wiped event which shows recovered TV shows
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