Shaping industrial modernity: Austrian sponsored films between 1920 and 1960


Do, 12/04/2012 – 08:30 bis 10:30


University Glasgow, Scotland, UK, Maths Building: 326

Presentation by Sema Colpan and Lydia Nsiah at the conference panel “Commissioning Consumption – Strategies and Impact of European Sponsored Films and Commercials” at ESSHC 2012 in Glasgow

Recently, sponsored films have gained increasing academic and archival attention (Dan Streible). The ongoing debate is fuelled both by an expanded theory of cultural heritage and a paradigm shift in film studies (Thomas Elsaesser). Coinciding with the development of regimes of mass production and mass consumption in the US and Western Europe, especially advertising and industrial films produced between 1920 and 1960 demand a broader economic as well as socio-cultural contextualisation. Analysing these films requires highlighting the relations between economic rationalization, aesthetic strategies and interconnected forms of knowledge production (e.g. advertising psychology). Based on the ongoing research project, “‘Sponsored Films’ and the Culture of Modernization. Intersections between Economy and Aesthetics in Austrian Advertising and Industrial Films”, funded by the Austrian Academy of Science, the paper will focus on two key aspects: Integrating empirical research into the socio-scientific concept of Fordism, we will, on the one hand, relate the films to the history of scientific management and, through the analyses of exemplary films, examine the development of a visual culture of industrial modernization in Austria.
On the other hand, highlighting the history of (international) advertising and industrial films as fields of formal innovation and experimentation, we will explore the relationship between these “minor” genres and film avant-gardes: especially the ways in which formal procedures of the avant-garde were used to visualize abstract concepts of modern industry and lend them an affective charge.

Organizer (Conference): International Institute of Social History (IIHS)
Organizer (Panel): Bert Hogenkamp, Lydia Nsiah
Sponsors (Project): DOC-team der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW)