Saturday 11 December 2 pm

The Cinema

Free admission

Images of Work, Working Images:
On the Functional Aesthetics of Industrial Films
Introduction by Patrick Vonderau

What kind of evidence do industrial films provide us with, and how do we account for their aesthetical value? The broad majority of these films lacked both a distinctive style and authorship. They were designed for organizational functionality rather than for expression or social analysis, and addressed their audience with a corporate ‚voice’ rather than lending this voice to others. They radically tied their formal devices to entrepreneurial tasks and, by doing so, also to the form of the company which had commissioned their production. These ‚orphans’ of film history have no place and no life other than the industrial task at hand. They seem like memos, company brochures, and other forms of “grey literature,” ephemeral to media culture. Despite, or precisely because of this, they may provide us with an aesthetical experience both familiar and strangely uncommon. Over the last ten years or so, industrial films have also turned out to be an object of memory, of nostalgic detours to the past stimulated by new archival policies. In an early book on Betriebskinematographie dating back to 1919, Walter Lassally already noted this wondrous, yet ephemeral quality of industrial film when he remarked: „Motion pictures are the ideal medium to depict work processes, as the film renders movement, the core element of all work.“ It is the movement of the company, the living body of work, which lends its form to industrial films, providing us with fascinating new insights into the aesthetic infrastructure of industrial work processes.

Patrick Vonderau

The programme will be introduced by Patrick Vonderau

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