October 26 to October 30, 2020 - Immersivity and Technological Innovations

Immersivity and Technological Innovations is an international, interdisciplinary (and above all virtual) conference on immersivity in all its forms and the technological innovations associated with it. Organized by Philippe Bédard (University of Montreal), Alanna Thain (McGill University) and Carl Therrien (University of Montreal), the event took place online from October 26 to 30, 2020.

While virtual reality is currently experiencing a renaissance since the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets in 2016, it has been around for much longer. The objective of this event was to question the importance of “new technologies” that we associate today with virtual reality and immersive media in general in order to address the notion of immersivity in its most diverse meanings. Thus, the original call for contributions underlined the importance of considering cinema and video games, but also oral and scriptural narratives, painting and architecture as so many technological innovations that have made it possible to promote the immersive character of ‘a media experience. The proposals retained reflected this plural conception of immersivity by dealing just as much with virtual reality in its current form as with the most varied immersive technologies, including the Cinéorama of Raoul Grimoin-Sanson, the oral history of the Sahrawi people, stereoscopic 3D and the rigged Percepto cinema seat.

While originally scheduled for June 2020, the Immersivity conference had to adapt, like many other events this year, to the COVID-19 pandemic. So the decision was made in March to postpone the event until fall and turn it into a mostly virtual event. The following videos are the recordings of the conferences given on Zoom from October 26 to 30, 2020.

May 13 to May 17, 2019 - Materiality, Aesthetics and History of Technology: The François Lemai Collection as Laboratory, Université Laval (Québec)

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.

19 and 20 November 2017 - Cinéma et Portabilité (Montreal)

It is now common to use the video function of our mobile telephones to record in images and sounds an event we deem worthy of interest. This everyday and ordinary act, accessible to everyone, or almost, is part of a media history which, by virtue of its transdisciplinary nature, can give rise to multiple approaches capable of demonstrating its complexity. This history is generated, without being limited to this, by the increasing technical portability of our devices, which is even leading these devices towards the abolition, for the moment only imagined, of their material presence. It is also generated by the desire of the recording individual to always be as close as possible to reality, sometimes to the point of merging with it. The goal of this conference was to interrogate this media and technological history with respect to its different aesthetic, social and scientific implications. It thus sought to shine new interdisciplinary light on the process of miniaturising audiovisual recording devices and its impact on the production of images and sounds.

November 30 to December 3, 2016 - Journey to the center of the Cinema Machine (Paris)

The international conference Journey to the center of the Cinema Machine brings together the historical, technical and aesthetic issues specific to the exhibition De Méliès à la 3D: la Machine Cinéma. Echoing its autumn exhibition, the Cinémathèque française, in partnership with TECHNÈS, welcomes filmmakers, directors of photography, editors and historians from different countries (Canada, United States, Switzerland, Belgium and France).

The talks, dialogues and projections of the conference revolve around three main axes: re-situating the advent of the cinema “machine”; studying the links between technique and aesthetics; thinking about cinema in the light of current technological upheavals.

Each day is extended by the screening, in the evening, of an emblematic film of the work of one of the guest of honor at the conference. Through its innovative and collaborative nature, this event contributes to research in film studies.

4 to 8 June 2017: Cinema in the Eye of the Collector

The history of cinema could not be written without the contribution of collectors. Whether through their pioneering collecting or their passionate championing of forgotten areas of world film production, collectors have had a lasting influence on both the shape of the history of moving pictures and the methods of writing that history. Nevertheless, for a long time their contribution was overshadowed by the work of representatives of academic institutions and institutional archives. Today, however, the new interest in questions around archives, media archaeology and the history of technology has created a conjuncture favourable to greater appreciation of the work of collectors, along with a discussion of the issues and challenges inherent to their interactions with the worlds of research, museums and archives. At the same time, there are many filmmakers whose creative practices and aesthetic choices are without question influenced by their second identity as a collector.

The conference Cinema in the Eye of the Collector invites scholars working in different disciplines, but also collectors, film practitioners, museum curators and archivists, to help shine light from various perspectives on the unique contribution of collectors to film aesthetics and history, as well as on questions of an epistemological and historiographical nature tied up with establishing, preserving and using collections. Over the conference’s five days of lectures, demonstrations and screenings, Cinema in the Eye of the Collector will facilitate exchanges between communities which have very often had complex and sometimes strained relations. Collectors, as is well known, can upset the apple cart: they take up unexplored areas of film production and force heritage institutions to leave their comfort zone. Several groups working in specific fields – such as Domitor, the Orphan Film Symposium, the Home Movie Day, and Prelinger Archives – have nevertheless demonstrated the great potential of collaborations between collectors, archivists and scholars. It is now a question of showing that these collaborations would benefit by being more widespread in the discipline of film studies. This is the avowed goal of this conference.

25 to 28 March 2015: A Switched-on TV: The Arts in the Black and White of the Cathode Ray Tube

This international conference sought to bring together specialists in television studies and media historians to discuss case studies of legendary or forgotten television productions which have disappeared down the drain of history or remained alive in the writings of commentators (or through the intermediary of television’s incursions into its own archives today). This intermedia conference encouraged encounters between numerous and complementary perspectives (television studies, cinema studies, the archaeology of media, etc.) which could offer new ideas on these historical phenomena, rarely taken up in television studies.

The conference explored television’s earliest period, which we proposed to call its black-and-white period (well knowing, to the extent that the standardisation of colour television has its own history and is different for each national television service, that the time frame around the period studied in the conference is not fixed). This period of emergence and institutionalisation, characterised by great freedom to experiment, guided our thoughts around this new cultural paradigm, television.

We kept busy during the conference, which was full of discoveries and with analyses of television works, authors’ careers, critical discourses, institutional policies, technological contexts and audience studies in the specialised press, in each case addressing television productions on the arts during television’s first era.

5 to 10 November 2013: The Magic of Special Effects: Cinema - Technology - Reception, Université de Montréal (Montreal)

The international conference The Magic of Special Effects: Cinema-Technology-Reception, whose organising committee was made up of André Gaudreault (GRAFICS/Université de Montréal), Martin Lefebvre (Concordia University) and Viva Paci (Université du Québec à Montréal), held from 5 to 10 November 2013, presented a hundred talks by researchers from various countries, a series of lectures by prestigious guests, panel discussions and screenings. Organised to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Cinémathèque québécoise, which this same year inaugurated its new permanent exhibition on special effects, this conference was one of the largest gatherings of scholars ever organised in Canada!

This conference was presented by GRAFICS (Groupe de recherche sur l’avènement et la formation des institutions cinématographique et scénique) as part of the international partnership TECHNÈS, which since 2012 has joined the efforts of three Francophone university research groups, each of which is associated with a film archive and a film school: in France, the cinema laboratory of the group “Arts: pratiques et poétiques” at Université Rennes 2 (led by Laurent Le Forestier), the Cinémathèque française and FÉMIS (École nationale supérieure des métiers de l’image et du son); in Switzerland, the group “Dispositifs” at the Université de Lausanne (led by Maria Tortajada), the Swiss Film Archive and the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne; and in Canada, GRAFICS at the Université de Montréal (led by André Gaudreault), the Cinémathèque québécoise and INIS (Institut national de l’image et du son). The Quebec group’s partners also include the Faculté des arts et des sciences at the Université de Montréal, the Observatoire du cinéma au Québec and Canal Savoir.