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Current and past FAMU grant projects

A Selection of FAMU publications


1) Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (project title: Operational Images and Visual Culture: Media Archaeological Investigations)

Tomáš Dvořák, Jussi Parikka:
Introduction: On the Scale, Quantity and Measure of Images

A chapter in: Tomáš Dvořák, Jussi Parikka (eds.): Photography off the Scale
Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2021

The introduction chapter summarises the current state of research, introduces the contents of the book and its objectives and scope. The introduction links the books’ chapters with existing photographic and media studies research and provides the core synthetising approach that works through key concepts and ideas from the book’s contributions. Here, the key focus is in outlining how to theorise questions of quantity, scale, and measure in ways that acknowledge earlier theoretical body of work in photographic and visual theory while also demonstrating how these terms are key to understanding mass image.

Tereza Stejskalová:
Online Weak and Poor Images: On Contemporary Feminist Visual Politics

A chapter in: Tomáš Dvořák, Jussi Parikka (eds.): Photography off the Scale
Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2021

This chapter uses the example of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram account as a point of departure to elaborate on feminist visual politics that makes a breakdown of technology and human bodies its message and its medium. The objective is to understand the power of encounter between Ocasio-Cortez and her mostly anonymous Instagram followers against the conditions of algorithmic manipulation and explain why the imperfect and amateur visuality of Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram stream should be considered an example of the way in which an algorithmic mass image can become a meaningful political image. Finding power in figures of weakness, the chapter draws on works by feminist artists and theorists who place the breakability of both the human body and technology centre stage. It is also to show how the history of resistance of the oppressed can play a significant role in finding ways to navigate the ambiguous landscape of online platforms.

Michal Šimůnek:
The Failed Photographs of Photography: On the Analogue and Slow Photography Movement

A chapter in: Tomáš Dvořák, Jussi Parikka (eds.): Photography off the Scale
Published by Edinburgh University Press, 2021

This chapter addresses the contemporary analogue and slow photography movement and its often-claimed potential to oppose the triviality of the mass image and the mainstream digital photographic culture. The argumentation is theoretically grounded in debates on the counter-practices of photography, particularly the concepts of meta-pictoriality, aesthetic of imperfection, and failed images, which are all considered to be promising ways to answer Flusser’s call for play against the programme of the apparatus. Empirically based on auto-nethnographic participant observation, the chapter takes the Lomography community and its photography practices as a case study. It is demonstrated that the frequent Lomography tactic against the digital image is based on producing photographs of photography, that is, meta-photographs. However, a detailed analysis of selected practices of Lomography, specifically the LomoWall exhibition strategy and Lomography’s imperfections, reveals that the potential of resistance against the networked digital image apparatus failed to be realised. Lomography suffers from the same malaises of digital visual culture that it aims to resist.

Tomáš Dvořák, Jussi Parikka:
Measuring Photographs

The article was published in the Photographies impacted periodical in 2021

This article investigates the relationships between photography and measuring. It outlines the main types of visual measurement within scientific photography (such as spectroscopy or photogrammetry) and proposes to broaden the analysis by understanding measuring as a visual cultural technique, which has a particular reach outside scientific institutions and uses. Here it connects arguments from media theory with questions of photography and argues that the centrality of measurement and metrics can be backtracked from current focus on questions of digital data to earlier techniques and discourses of visuality. It traces the conjunctions between the practices of imaging and measuring in the Renaissance, offering a genealogy that aligns photography with acts and processes of measuring, comparison, standardisation and scaling as both their effect and cause. Making or looking at photographs always implies sighting, gauging, measuring and co- measuring, which as cultural techniques can be approached as recursive chains of operations.


2) AMU Project Competition

Jan Bernard (ed.):
5 ½ scénáře Ester Krumbachové (2021)/5 ½ Screenplays by Ester Krumbachová

The book was published by NAMU in 2021

The book is the first edition of a selection of screenplays by the famous film and theatre artist. Her screenwriting work for film and television is comprehensively approached in studies by editor Jan Bernard and co-author Kristýna Vaňková that are based on extensive research into the artist’s archives and bring up multiple previously unknown facts. The book represents the most complete view of her screenwriting work so far, the principles of which she reflects on in the attached text for American University Washington students. It is also the culmination of author Jan Bernard’s interest in studying the work of Jan Němec, Václav Havel and Věra Chytilová, which this book connects.

Marek Vajchr:
Neviditelný rytíř aneb rozbřesk imaginace/The Invisible Knight, or the Dawn of Imagination

The book was published by Revolver Revue in 2019

The author explores, from an interdisciplinary point of view, the beginnings of modern Czech prose fiction in relation to the evolution of the cinematic art in Bohemia during the Enlightenment Era (with bidirectional overlaps into the late Baroque and Romantic periods). The conclusion it draws is that the nascent Czech modern literature relied, to an unexpectedly high degree, on the writings of Prague-based German writer Josef Schiffner (before 1760–1817) whose vast prosaic oeuvre – strongly influenced by the period cinematographic art – claimed the artist’s right to free imagination in contradiction to normative Enlightenment aesthetics. We interpret cinematographic arts in a broad sense of the term, corresponding to Bernard Bolzano’s period’s definition of the art of “moving images”. The evolution of the Magic Lantern and other optical perspective mechanisms in the final quarter of the 18th and the first three decades of the 19th centuries has, in many aspects, laid the foundation for “cinematographic” poetics, long before the invention of film, and also had an important influence on the constitution of themes, techniques and methods of prose fiction, above all of the historical and gothic novels. Until now, Czech history of literature has not focused on these aspects, while sometimes recognising, in anachronical fashion, “photographic” of “filmic” qualities to texts by romantic authors, notably those of poet Karel Hynek Mácha.

3) Student Grant Competition

Tomáš Oramus, Kateřina Lukavská:
Comparison of the Effect of Control Mapping on Players’ Presence in Different Environments

The article was published in the Interactive Media impacted periodical in 2019

During the past few years, virtual reality has been undergoing a small renaissance as it is gradually becoming a common technology. This has opened the topic of control mapping, as the classic setup of keyboard and mouse is unsuitable for use with head-mounted displays. This research explores how the control interface – directional natural mapping (DualShock 4), realistic tangible natural mapping (Thrustmaster T150 RS Force Feedback steering wheel) and incomplete tangible natural mapping (Playstation Move) – alters our sense of presence when playing on TV and with HMD. The results indicate that incomplete tangible natural mapping and realistic tangible natural mapping offers a generally greater sense of presence; however, the increase in presence is platform independent as the difference in presence was similar with either technology (TV and HMD).

Quynh Nguyen:
Break Time Exchanges: Social Construction of “Resting” Spaces Among the Vietnamese-Czech Community in Sapa, in Prague

The article was published in the Lidé a města/Urban people impacted periodical in 2021

This study provides a snapshot of the social lives of primarily first-generation Vietnamese-Czech immigrants, who engage in small-scale merchant business at the Sapa market and cultural centre in Prague. To add to the existing research on the Vietnamese immigrant community in the Czech Republic, the research shifts from studying the immigrant community’s identity as business owners to their identities as cultural participants by observing the community’s interactions during break times. The researcher utilises the framework of spatialising culture to focus on how such interactions help socially construct and transform the resting spaces existing in both the physical and online worlds of the Sapa market and cultural space. This ethnographic study combines participant observation, insider ethnography, visual mapping, and visual and digital ethnography. The fieldwork reveals that the physical and digital rest areas of Sapa help facilitate ethnic identity construction and preservation among the community members.

Alexandra Čihanská Machová:
Experimental Approaches to Working with Sound in Virtual Reality

The article was published in the ArteActa impacted periodical in 2021

This study examines the potential of virtual reality (VR) as an environment for the creation of sound art. Based on the correlation of texts from New media theory and musicology, it places sound art in a virtual environment in the wider theoretical and historical context. Based on these, it tries to define the term more specifically and explore possible determinants of considering certain piece as a VR piece (interactivity, tools/instruments and interfaces and the methods of their use, their psycho-physiological impact, etc.). In this context and based on the examples of the analysis of certain works – Alexandra Cihanská Machová: Psalm, Marko Ciciliani: Kilgore, Robert Hamilton and Chris Platz: Carillon, Samuel Longmore and Chris Wratt: Untitled (Jan 2), James Spinney and Peter Middleton: Notes on Blindness, or Papa Sangre by Somethin’ Else – it is trying to answer the question to what extent the sound component of VR can exist autonomously, and it explores its potential as an artistic means of expression. It introduces possible solutions and highlights problematic moments and challenges of practical realization.

Michal Böhm:
Didactics of Composition and Order: The Development of Teaching the Editing Theory at FAMU

The article was published in the Iluminace impacted periodical in 2020

This study examines the progression of film editing theory education at the Department of Editing at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague from 1964 to the present. The study focuses on the didactics of editing theory – which concerns the analysis of the textbooks, syllabus of study and practical education – and through it, it uncovers the intellectual transformation of the actual editing theory. The transformation occurred in a historical context and was deeply influenced by the institutional development of the Department of Editing. The secondary objective of this study is to briefly summarise the history of the department along with its most important figures who defined the way that editing theory is taught. The person central to the study is Jan Kučera, a prominent Czech film theoretician who established the Department of Editing at FAMU and laid the foundation for the editing theory that Josef Valušiak and Martin Čihák – his future successors, theory teachers and other important figures of this study – draw upon to the present. One of Kučera’s essential premises for editing and film theory in general was the semantic hierarchy and semiotic structure of a work of art, and this notion continues to define the way that editing students think to this day. This study also covers the question of whether there is a continuity and tradition to the teaching of editing theory (which this study prefers to the teaching of editing practice) at the Department of Editing at FAMU and reflects this unique educational approach.

Lea Petříková:
Sandoz Film Production in Novartis Archives

The article was published in the Cahiers d´historie du Cnam impacted periodical in 2019

Novartis Company Archives currently manage the Sandoz film legacy, which includes about 1,300 reels of film material (450 film titles). The study, based on archival research in the Novartis Company Archives, reports on the characteristics of the Sandoz film archive. It seeks to offer a possible insight into the system and function of the company’s film production, primarily considering archival sources, and secondarily the history of Sandoz and the social-political context of corporate activities.

Alexandra Moralesová:
Experimental Film: Entering the Film Laboratory and Meeting the Body

The article was published in the Sešit pro umění, teorii a příbuzné zóny impacted periodical in 2018

Over the two past decades, experimental filmmaking found its ground more than ever in the photo-chemical laboratory. The filmmaker as producer (BENJAMIN) enters different roles and get his hands into the whole process of filmmaking. The artistic gesture is expanded from the area of conceptualization, filming and editing to the very hand- crafted approach towards the material of the celluloid and thus allows to open the black-box (FLUSSER) sometimes labelled Kodak. It seems that the transformation of the film industry and its infrastructure of the last twenty years represents a paradigmatic turn and the most important moment for film as art. The film laboratory as an indispensable part of the making of the photo-chemical film is being recognized as a creative tool in the experimental and art film. Artist-run film labs allowing to develop the creation in the medium of film create a platform for the convergence of the traditional knowledge and skills and the contemporary experience of the digital awareness. Regarding those new working conditions in experimental filmmaking, we face the transformation of the relation between the artist (his body) and the medium of the film which acquires a new “bodyness” as a “body of the film” (FRAMPTON).

Tereza Bernátková:
Naučit se pohybovat v neurčitosti: Filmy Sensory Ethnography Lab a etika zírání/ Learning to Navigate the Indefiniteness: The Sensory Ethnography Lab Films and the Ethics of Staring

The article was published in the Biograf impacted periodical in 2018

Over the past decade, Harvard University’s experimental Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) has become a phenomenon in both anthropology and cinema. Its work resonates within the international social science community, its films have won awards at prestigious film festivals and it is taken for an influential tendency of contemporary cinema. In this paper, SEL methods and films are approached as an intersection of social sciences and arts, or anthropology and film. The text argues that SEL changes our usual patterns of perception and updates our experience of the world. Therefore, special attention is paid to the phenomena of presence and aspects of performativity of documentary practice instead of just observation and recording. Finally, SEL documentaries are approached as artworks that transform trivial encounters into a method and shift the attention from singularities (artifacts, personas, sounds, practices) to a situation in its irreducible and dynamic complexity. The importance of SEL’s output is in the notion that uncertainty is accepted as a human condition.