The Materiality, Aesthetics and History of Technology: The François Lemai Collection as Laboratory international conference, brings together at Université Laval from May 13 to May 17, 2019, specialists from several disciplines to think collectively about a question too rarely addressed in film studies, that of the place of objects and technical devices in the writing of media history. This event, which will be the first international film conference to be held in Quebec City since the initial Domitor conference in 1990, aims to be a meeting place for representatives of multiple disciplinary fields usually evolving in distinct spheres: academic researchers, technicians, collectors, filmmakers, and archivists.
The primary aim of the conference is to tackle new issues arising from actual contact with objects and machines, particularly over the first two days (May 13 and 14), when participants will be invited to work with pieces from the Lemai collection in a laboratory context. The experiments attempted during this laboratory phase of the conference will, it is hoped, raise a new set of epistemological and historiographical questions of great import for the writing of media history. The underlying project of this conference will thus consist in affirming that, not only have film devices never ceased to transform and evolve throughout the history of cinema, but that a careful and sustained examination of cinema technology makes it possible to discard many preconceived ideas and renew our understanding of the interconnection of aesthetic, narrative and technical issues. We believe that the vast ensemble formed by the François Lemai collection, now preserved at the Collections de l’Université Laval, can foster remarkable contributions to the understanding of the formal and theoretical dimensions of film culture. Amassed over more than thirty years of research on many continents, this collection is undoubtedly the most important of its kind in Canada. Over the course of these five days of conferences, experiments, shows and screenings, this international conference will celebrate the impressive Lemai collection by showing how it can be actively used by researchers, theorists, historians, archivists, but also filmmakers and museologists. The gathering of these different approaches within the same laboratory space will, it is hoped, bring about dialogue, discoveries, and the celebration of experimentation, trial and error. We are confident that it will also lead to spectacular discoveries.