Caring about craft: engaging with design archives through videographic criticism

Activity: Talk or presentation typesPresentation


There are a great many people who contribute to the final look, sound and feel of a film. Design personnel – production designers, costume designers, sound designers - shape the capacity of films to involve us, guiding our responsiveness to mood and feel through the material particularities of their creative decisions. Yet, their contributions have been frequently overlooked by the industry and the academy, where artistic credit remains with a small group of people. Attending to the creative labour of designers, which cuts across the hierarchies of art and craft or technical and expressive work, foregrounds voices and materials often rendered invisible in histories and aesthetic studies of mainstream cinema.
This paper will focus on the archive as one site where the contributions and decisions of the designer are recorded, exploring its potential to develop understanding of design as a process of research, experimentation, and immersion. Moreover, it will engage with videographic criticism as a research practice particularly well-suited to approaching such materials with care. Videographic scholarship foregrounds the possibilities of embodiment and empathy through autoethnographic methods of self-reflexivity as video-essayists locate themselves in their works to explore the sonic, aural, tactile and affective dimensions of texts (Grant 2014; McLeod 2022). In seeking to address the work of filmmaking personnel who are directly concerned with shaping these affective dimensions, videographic criticism can offer an embodied method which combines attentiveness to creative decision-making with an empathetic responsiveness to their achievements both on and off screen. Through videographic examples, this paper will explore how the archive can be opened up, reworked and reconstituted to think about the embodied nature of design as both physical activity and empathetic process.
Period15 Jun 2023
Event titleNECS: European Network for Cinema and Media Studies annual conference
Event typeConference
LocationOslo, NorwayShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational