Reclaimed from obscurity

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 13:40:00 GMT

Dr Heather Norris Nicholson (Centre for Oral History Research)

Reclaimed from obscurity

Exploring the changing meanings of amateur film practice in digital times

Wednesday 29 February 2012 at 16:15 in JM3/06Wednesday 29 February 2012 at 16:15 in JM3/06

With origins in late Victorian and Edwardian optical toys, technologies for making and projecting moving images evolved rapidly and in c.1923, Kodak and Pathé launched lightweight handheld equipment for recreational filmmaking.  For the next sixty years, amateur cine-using filmmakers explored the world around them in animation, fiction and non-fictional form, some enthusiasts adapting to the fast changing technologies of VHS during the 1980s and then moving into the digital era.  They shared their films with friends and families and other audiences. Some enthusiasts became professional: many others took their hobby very seriously and for some, it was only a passing interest.

Collectively, these films now provide intriguing ways of exploring past lifestyles, landscapes and visual memory-making and comprise over 50% of the collections in regional film archives today.  Increasingly accessible through online archiving initiatives and highly popular as a means to bestow authenticity and popular appeal in broadcast histories, more critical frameworks for understanding these non-official views of the past are important. This discussion explores some of the issues that affect the interpretation and changing meanings of amateur footage as it is increasingly relocated into the public sphere. 




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