An investigation into the aesthetics of community, collaborative and collective filmmaking in the UK focusing on the period 1968-1981.
Royal Holloway, University of London
Year of enrolment: 2014
Supervisor: Professor Mandy Merck
My research will seek to recover, reactivate and revive the history and practice of community video in the UK, to investigate its potential to make manifest the social, cultural, political and technological landscape.
It will seek to examine the complicated relationship between identity politics and video practices of the period 1968-1981 in order to ask the following questions: What are the social and aesthetic characteristics of community video practices? How does community video in the UK fit into the wider history of social and political non-fiction filmmaking?
How might community video projects and films be read as representations of the specific identities and by extension ‘politics’ of the people that produced and participated in them? What has the role of technology – namely portapak and video – been for the development of community video practices?
What might it mean to bring these works back into circulation in order to reactivate them as potential triggers for the creation of new community video projects? This research will read these videos as texts - reflections of the processes and politics behind their production. There will be a practice based elelment whereby orginal community videos will be shown to new groups and together we will make new videos in response to them. This will open them up for critisicsm and a greater understanding of the process of making and engaging in such work. This is particularly pertinent because much of this work was particularly focused on the process of its production. It is these processes, relationships and intimacies that this proposal seeks to speak to and through. One of the critical issues this PhD will consider is that when community video is co-opted into the wider histories of socially engaged or participatory art its uniqueness is often smoothed over, forgotten or removed from the qualities and issues inherent in its medium specificity. In directing this investigation at both the history of community video and its aesthetic, cinematic, theoretical framework I will interrogate these projects on their own material and aesthetic terms.