Cinematic City renewed

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This year’s Master’s course Cinematic City of my master Comparative Arts & Media Studies is again full of innovation and experiment. The course is taught by my colleagues Koos Bosma (Professor in Architecture), Bert Hogenkamp (our Endowed Professor in Commissioned Filming), and myself. Last year we worked with Geoplaza, a log journal on Wikispaces, and archival research collected on presented through Wikispaces as well. The central theme was cinemas in Amsterdam now and and in the past, a second theme was European film museums. The connecting factor was the new EYE Filmmuseum building along the IJ river, just behind Central Station. This year’s course instead is focused on the representation of the cinematic city, so films shot in Amsterdam or films pretending to take place in Amsterdam (but in reality shot elsewhere or simply in a film studio). Repeating an experiment I did last year with my Bachelor course Film in Rome/Rome on Film, in collaboration with the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome, we managed to get hold of a few iPads (thanks to a generous colleague) and transfer clips of films on the iPads (thanks to a helpful collaborator). Doing so, we will be able to compare on location the film clips with the real locations. In addition, we will make photos on location and compare these with the locations within the clips. A new iPhone app, Vistory, has already experimented with this, using non-fiction footage from the site Open Beelden [Open Images] from the Institute for Sound & Vision (Beeld & Geluid), permitting you to take captures and compare these with your own photos. But what if we add fiction film as well? And what if you compare both sources with the static images of the Amsterdam City Archive image bank (Beeldbank) or those of the National Archive? So this year’s course will be a testcase. Moreover, the Geoplaza site of Amsterdam of last year (sorry, limited access), indicating cinemas in Amsterdam during four time layers, has been reused and expanded with four time layers of historical maps from 1904, 1941, 1972 and now (thanks to Maurice de Kleijn and Peter Vos of SPINlab). After the course the results of the course can be implemented in the Geoplaza maps. The field work in May starts after some serious input by the teachers and after thorough literature study (Stieber, Bass, Certeau, Clarke, Penz, Schwarzer, Shiel etc.) in the past three weeks. For the literature discussions we have experimented with Kogeto cameras. These are little cameras you can stick to an iPhone (unfortunately not to other smartphones yet) which record the discussions in small groups, 360 degrees around, as if you are in the midst of a 19th century panorama like the Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. O.k. the image is not perfectly sharp and the time span is very short (8 minutes per take). But afterwards the Kogeto website permits you to see the films either as a panorama you can scroll around in the typical smartphone way, selecting the speaker whom you hear, or you can select to see it in a synthetic way like the small panoramas from the early 19th century, showing you all group members within one frame. The latter is a more relaxing version to watch, I need to say. My colleague Sylvia Moes (Innovation Manager Media at VU University) was most helpful in introducing us to these little panorama cameras and showing the benefits they may have for education. In the end the practical field work needs to be reconnected with the literature, ‘zooming out’ from the ‘cityscapes’, ‘screenscapes’ and ‘zoomscapes’. Anyway, in Rome, the “iPad moments’ became something magical during the course, a revelation to both teachers and students. I am curious to see how this will work out in Amsterdam, and how it will sharpen our eyes, ears, and minds. PS a big hand to Paul Bossenbroek, Sylvia Moes, Jolanda Visser and Miriam van Schie for helping me with this course.

~ by Ivo Blom on April 24, 2013.

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