DocuLab is a donor-funded five-year program that will develop student-faculty documentary work in VCAM.
Students will spend ten weeks both on campus and in the field developing documentary projects, working with faculty, visiting filmmakers, and technicians. Taking advantage of the new filmmaking spaces and equipment in VCAM, the initiative builds on the College’s successful Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellows Program (WAKE, Capitalish) and the Hurford Center’s Tuttle Summer Arts Lab (The Pool Movie Project). DocuLab is a joint initiative of the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and VCAM.
Contact: James Weissinger, Associate Director, Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities and VCAM Operations Manager
Summer DocuLabs Faculty Proposal
Summer DocuLabs invites faculty applications for Summer 2022 projects. Taking advantage of the filmmaking spaces and equipment in VCAM, the donor-funded initiative builds on the College’s successful Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellows Program (WAKE, Capitalish) and the Hurford Center’s Tuttle Summer Arts Lab (The Pool Movie Project).
In projects proposed by faculty, student-faculty teams will work within the field and on campus with visiting filmmakers, and other collaborators. If the proposing faculty member needs assistance in finding a filmmaker, the Hurford Center staff can help to identify one prior to application due date. Note: the application must include specific option(s) for filmmaker collaborator, even if this has not been finalized. Students will apply to join the approved project in the fall, with the project taking place during the following summer, where four-five students from multiple disciplines will spend ten weeks working together with a faculty member and the visiting artist.
Summer DocuLab projects may also involve curricular components for student participants the semester prior to the actual filming. Faculty members leading the project may work on a variety of levels, from co-teaching a course, to co-designing/hosting workshops and events, to co-advising the student fellows over the summer on campus or in the field.
Groups will produce ambitious documentary work, guided both by the faculty member, filmmaker, and college staff. The form of the work produced will also be dynamic: In any given summer, the result could be a traditional single-channel documentary, a web documentary, a site-specific public video installation, or a locative media project accessed through smart phones and experienced on a walking tour – the lab-style design of the institute and the diverse resources of the VCAM building will permit this freedom to explore.
Note: This call is for Summer 2022 proposals only. If a proposal is accepted, the successful candidate commits to pursuing the project for Summer 2022. All proposals will be reviewed by the HCAH Steering Committee, and applicants will be notified by May 1, 2021. The proposal cannot be deferred to future summers, and if the applicant can no longer commit to this summer, then the Hurford Center must be notified by May 15, 2021.
Summer DocuLab 2021
For, With, and Against the Camera: Performance Cinema
May 26-July 31, 2021
Faculty Lead: John Muse
For ten weeks during summer 2021, five student DocuLab Fellows will explore performance-based film practice and produce their own experimental films and installation projects. This DocuLab will begin with an intensive, seven-day early summer performance workshop in Saxony, Germany led by renowned international performance artist BBB Johannes Deimling and media maker Monika Deimling. Upon returning to campus the Fellows will employ the research methodologies learned with the Deimlings to conceptualize, develop, and create original works in collaboration with the Faculty Lead and Philadelphia artists, dancers, theater makers, and performers. The Lab will conclude with a fall 2021 omnibus performance event and screening of works by the Fellows and critiques with the Deimlings. Subsequent support for exhibition and festival submissions and attendance by the makers will be provided to insure sustainable practice.
“Documentation” to some performance artists and theater makers often means passive, from-a-distance witnessing of live events or ephemeral works that were missed by all but those who experienced them in the moment: you had to be there, but because you weren’t, here are a few relics that in no way should be taken for works themselves, but only, so to speak, documentation.
But other artists and performers treat the camera person, the sound recordist, the editor, etc., as collaborators in the production of a work rather than merely technicians tasked with documenting it. Theirs are not performances that happen to have been recorded but performances designed for recording: the spectator is directly addressed as viewer of media and also as an accomplice, a participant.
Yoko Ono, Joan Jonas, Vito Acconci, Ana Mendieta, Bas Jan Ader, Pipilotti Rist, William Pope.L, Matthew Barney, Kate Gilmore—these and many other 20th and 21st century visual artists work with moving image media to craft, not simply record, their performance practice. The history of narrative, experimental, and documentary cinema too has helped define the terms of mediated performance, of acting for, with, and against the camera, of working in and around and beyond the edge of the frame, of scripting actions that begin in one shot and conclude in another. And Vine—may it rest in pieces—YouTube, and Tiktok have bred their own contemporary forms of camera-ready and camera-smart performance. The performance traditions that emerged in the wake of Dada, Gutai, Actionism, Fluxus, conceptual art, performance art, postmodern dance, and social practice, engage with film and new technologies and draw upon developments in documentary and experimental film. The fields are rich, the technologies diverse; bodies, voices, sites, times, and spaces are all material for contemporary media makers.
In other words, performance is as savvy to what cameras do and have been doing since the beginning of cinema and television and the internet as it is steeped in performance history.
This DocuLab hopes to thoughtfully engage with these knowledges and the resources that filmmakers and performers can share with one another, all in the interest of creating a research platform where makers of performance and makers of film can be co-inquirers and collaborators.
The 2021 DocuLab For, With, and Against the Camera: Performance Cinema will begin with an early June performance workshop in Germany led by BBB Johannes Deimling with support from media maker Monika Deimling. Since 2008 the Deimlings have conducted over 70 PAS (Performance Art Studies) workshops: short, multi-day intensives, with training in performance fundamentals, usually organized around a theme. These workshops, they write on their website, are “practical work sessions, in which performative experiments and questions are tested and shared amongst the participants. We use experiments, exercises, tasks, games, assignments, and ‘homework’ to widen the palette of perception, awareness, and learning. Likewise, we offer direct reflections and analyses of made experiences. Discussions, feedback, storytelling, drawing, writing and documentation are constant companions of the practical work that are specifically selected to fit the research topic.”
The DocuLab PAS workshop will explore the relationship between bodies, cameras, sound equipment, and editing tools. Everyone in the workshop will perform, shoot, record sound, and complete short films.
The Fellows will gather in Gallery Torhaus in the town of Wehlen just outside of Dresden; the gallery will provide accommodations for all, shared meals, and plenty of space to work. There are possible collaborations with Christin Lübcke of the Techniche Universität Dresden and with Sebastian Hänel and STRE!FEN Performance Art Studies at Wildwuchs e.V,. der Förderung von Kunst und Kultur im Dreiländereck.
After the workshop and for the rest of the summer, the Fellows, guided by the faculty Lead and local Philadelphia performance coaches—performance artists, dancers, and theater makers—will convene to use these performance and media platforms to examine topics of their own devising. To guide and enrich these summer activities, there will be group critiques, individual meetings with the faculty Lead, and tech workshops on advanced digital cinema skills; other support will be provided as needed.
The DocuLab will conclude with a fall omnibus performance event, screening of experimental and narrative shorts, and installations by students. The Deimlings will attend, present their work to the community, provide critical feedback, and meet with other interested students. Support for subsequent festival submissions and festival attendance by student makers will be provided as well to insure sustainable practice. Finally, and throughout the process, the Lab will aim to model new curricula for performance studies, visual studies, and digital cinema at Haverford.
Note: In the event that DocuLab can’t travel to Germany in June of 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Deimlings will be in residence at Haverford College; the performance intensive will take place on and around campus. If the Deimlings can’t travel, they will conduct their performance intensive remotely, supported by the faculty Lead and the Production Manager. Student Fellows should be excited to work with the Deimlings whether in Saxony, at Haverford College, or remotely.
The program is open to Haverford students, including graduating seniors, as well as Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore students majoring at Haverford or those who have otherwise completed significant film-focused coursework in the Tri-Co. Student Fellows will each receive a $5000 stipend to cover room, board, and other expenses.
Note: students should take and/or have taken courses that emphasize film production, performance studies, and performance practice. Preference will be given to students who have not yet participated in the DocuLab Program.
For ten weeks during summer 2020, five students participated in the production of the experimental documentary film Smile4Kime. Fellows conceptualized, developed, and created animated scenes for the film in collaboration with local Philadelphia artists.doculab-archive
For ten weeks during summer 2019, five Haverford and Bryn Mawr College students helped create a documentary centered on the city of Philadelphia in the summer of 1976. The project took place in Philadelphia with professor Thomas Devaney, collaborating with Greenhouse Media artists and filmmakers Matthew Suib and Aaron Igler.doculab-archive
Dizhsa Nabani is a documentary web series that explores the relationship between identity, language, and daily life in the Valley Zapotec community of San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya.doculab-archive