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The Projection Project

The Projection Project is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council which will run from Oct 2014 to Jan 2018. The project investigates the history of cinematic projection, the role and image of the cinema projectionist, and the contemporary expansion of projected images and events outside the cinema. It will use a mixture of methods, including oral history, archive research, interviews, textual analysis and photographs to document and explore C20th projection and the digital transformations of the twenty-first century.

Between 2010 and 2012, most British cinemas converted to digital projection, and many cinema projectionists were made redundant. We have already interviewed some of those involved in this transition, and in the project, we plan to interview many more in order to document a history of the skills and practices of projectionists in the celluloid age. The interviews will be conducted by Dr Rick Wallace, and if you would like to be interviewed, please contact Rick directly either by email (richard dot wallace at warwick dot ac dot uk) or by telephoning the Department (02476 523511). The interviews will be augmented by photographs taken by one of our project partners, Richard Nicholson – best known for his series on photographic darkrooms – and we are very keen to hear from anyone who knows where working 35mm projection booths are still in use (again, please contact Rick).

To complement these contemporary interviews, Dr Jon Burrows will be leading research into the history of the projectionist in the British film industry, paying attention to changing conditions and working practices, as well as trade union representation. This will involve looking at archival sources such as cinema logbooks and trade union branch minutes from all over the country, and again, we are interested in hearing from anyone with access to this type of material. (Please contact richard dot wallace at warwick dot ac dot uk as above.) The project’s PhD student (yet to be appointed), will be investigating the representation of the projectionist in the movies. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN APPLYING FOR THE PHD STUDENTSHIP (DEADLINE 25 APRIL 2014) PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK.

The final theme of the research explores the ways in which digital projection has figured in the work of contemporary artists, as well as the material practices of using and curating projection in gallery exhibitions. It will also chart the emergence of projection out of the cinema and into the streets, and the recent practice of ‘projection mapping’ that exploits the portability and flexibility of digital projection, This part of the project will be co-ordinated by Dr Michael Pigott (http://www.michaellightborne.com).

We will be working with other project partners to present some of our findings to a wider audience. For the tenth anniversary of the pioneering Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham we will be developing – with Flatpack – installations and events to explore the history and future of film projection inside and outside the cinema. The BFI is also a project partner and will be assisting with research and exhibition events, which will help to inform the development of policies and practices in the exhibition sector.

The project is based in the Department of Film and Television Studies at Warwick, and is led by Professor Charlotte Brunsdon (Principal Investigator) and has an advisory board bringing expertise in a wide range of areas, including cinema buildings, the film industry and oral history. The co-investigators are Dr Jon Burrows (archive strand) and Dr Michael Pigott (extra-cinematic projection), with Dr Rick Wallace as the project’s Research Fellow.

projection project photograph

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