Film.Stadt.Wien: A Transdisciplinary Exploration of Vienna as a Cinematic City

Project Funding: WWTF Vienna Science and Technology Fund, SSH08-037
Project Duration 01.04.2009–30.06.2011
Project Lead: Siegfried Mattl (LBIGG)
Project Team: Gustav Deutsch; Michael Loebenstein (LBIGG); Christiana Perschon (LBIGG); Hanna Schimek
Project Partners: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital History (LBIDH) (until February 2019: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society, LBIGG); D&S (Gustav Deutsch und Hanna Schimek); Austrian Film Museum

This transdisciplinary project aimed to scientifically explore and document the manifold relationships between the city of Vienna and its rich cinematic representations. An extensive collection of avant-garde films and so-called “orphan films” (documentaries, amateur films, newsreels) with a connection to Vienna from the archive of the Austrian Film Museum (OFM) as well as from international collections such as the Musée Albert Kahn in Paris served as the basis for a structural-analytical investigation and commentary on these films by a team of cultural scientists and artists.

Following Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, a register of “family resemblances” was developed, which provided important impulses for the development of artistic-photographic, filmic and exhibition-curatorial projects. The project created an interface between cultural studies and the visual arts. The systematic mutual information about processes of research, the notation of research results and the respective processing procedures (database-supported scientific research on modes of urban representation, creative-artistic reflection of cinematic monuments) is understood as an adequate strategy towards cinematic reality, which can be described both as a synthesis of the arts themselves and as their combination with techniques of the real (Jacques Rancière).

In the first half of the project, a relational image bank for “ephemeral” films was developed in cooperation with vonautomatisch workshops, and a first stock of hitherto unknown film material about Vienna was screened and catalogued. In October 2009, a workshop on “Working with Orphan and Ephemeral Film” was held at the Wien Museum with the participation of Nico de Klerk (Nederlands Filmmuseum), Paolo Cherchi Usai (Haghefilm Foundation, Amsterdam) and Dan Streible (New York University). At the invitation of the Wien Museum, Gustav Deutsch created a video installation from amateur material from the OFM collection for the exhibition “Kampf um die Stadt” at the Künstlerhaus (19 November 2009 to 28 March 2010). In January 2010, three screenings were presented at the Filmmuseum as part of the project, and in October 2010 the Home Movie Day 2010 was organised in cooperation with the Vienna City Library in the City Hall. From 2010 onwards, there was also close cooperation with the audiovisual archive of the municipality of Vienna, media wien. Members of the project team participated in numerous international conferences in 2010 and 2011, and a conference was held at the OFM in 2011.

In April 2012, the project reached a significant milestone as the online portal StadtFilmWien was launched, granting access to approximately 100 annotated “ephemeral” films.

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