Conversations in Comparison: Oliver Gaycken, "A Cinema of Living Facts: The Encycolpaedia Cinematographica's Archives of Movement”

Thursday, March 3, 2016 - 11:30am
2115 Tawes Hall

This year’s Vambery Distinguished Professor, Dr. Oliver Gaycken, will share his research on Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 at 11:30am-1:30pm. Lunch will be provided.

Dr. Gaycken’s talk is titled "A Cinema of Living Facts: The Encycolpaedia Cinematographica's Archives of Movement.” Post-World War II West German cultural responses to the legacy of fascism took many forms, most notably denial and amnesia. In the field of scientific filmmaking, the Institute für den Wissenschaflichen Film (IWF) inherited the problematic legacy of its precursor, the Reichsanstalt für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (RWU). A signal initiative that indicated the IWF’s attempt to reinvent itself was the creation in 1952 of the Encyclopaedia Cinematographica (EC), a long-term project conceptualized as a curated archive of movement. Organized into three overarching fields—biology, anthropology, and the technical sciences—the EC represented both an ambitious novelty as well as a return to a venerable form, that of the encyclopedia. This talk will provide an overview of the EC, outlining its particular (and peculiar) methods, its forgotten place within film history, and will conclude by advancing some suggestions for its continuing relevance if not revivification thanks to digital media.