Interrogating the Broader Context of Film: The Moving Image Research Laboratory

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Posted in Audio / Visual, Major Projects, Networks & Publics, People, Projects, Visualization


Newly established at McGill with funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Moving Image Research Laboratory combines two state of the art labs with the onsite expertise of its three founding members, Michael Cowan, Thomas Lamarre  and Alanna Thain. In recent years, the field of film studies has rapidly expanded beyond traditional, highly specific methods of inquiry (such as genre, nationality or director) to a more broadly based interrogation of the broader historical reach of film and moving image technologies in 20th century visual culture.

The MIRL team explores these ideas through the relationships found between the history of moving images and 20th century perceptions of the body and its movement. The researchers consider the historical  span of the moving image from its earliest forms in the 19th century to cutting edge contemporary work.  Their interests include the study of both live and animated moving figures, with particular focuses in screen dance, animation and early 20th century avante-garde cinema;  all of which is made possible through the operation of MIRL’s two laboratories. Researchers and students can make use of the viewing lab, to facilitate the analysis of moving images in multiple storage formats or can digitize materials on site, using MIRL’s data processing facilities.

Most recently, MIRL hosted its first full day event, entitled ” Looking Through Time: Temporal and Presence Effects in Recent Moving Image Arts” held on 29 November 2012. The event featured papers from graduate students of three of Montréal’s universities, in addition to a screening of Alexandre Larose’s experimental film ‘Brouillard’ (2010-2011). MIRL also staged a faculty Research in Progress Seminar (“Moving Images, Mobile Sreens) in September 2012, which included presentations by founding members Cowan, Lamarre and Thain, in addition to guests Yuriko Furuhata (McGill) and Haidee Watson (Concordia).  Those interested can visit the MIRL website for a full listing of future events presented by the group, in addition to instructions for lab time bookings.

Moving Image Research Laboratory

PI: Alanna Thain, Michael Cowan, Tom Lamarre
Faculty of Arts