As part of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education’s (now the Ministry of Education and Science) “Regional Initiative of Excellence” pilot competition, the Lodz Film School was awarded a grant to establish a state-of-the-art multimedia Visual Narrative Laboratory.
Operating at the Film School in Lodz, the Laboratory is an entry into a new sphere of exploration within the fields of film, theater arts and photography, in whose traditional forms the School feels confident, and in which, of course, it continues to operate and constantly develop. The Laboratory was established as a result of the recognition that the digital revolution in the media is not only a fact of life, but is also increasingly affecting the field of artistic practice (including film, animation and photography, in which the Lodz School specializes). Within its framework, we undertake creative and scientific exploration of the field of narrative-related technologies, such as cinematic VR, stereoscopy, interactive documentary and other interactive visual forms, film essay and, finally, digital, multi-media publishing. All of these explorations are accompanied by scholarly reflection, whether in the form of audience research, among other things, in terms of the impact of the works produced within the Laboratory, or through regular conferences that summarize the Laboratory’s activities.
Since the Laboratory’s primary task is to produce experimental artistic works, we regularly announce open competitions for individual artists and teams wishing to realize a project in the above-mentioned contemporary visual narrative media.
Project managers: Krzysztof Pijarski, Krzysztof Franek
The Virtual and Augmented Reality Studio conducts interdisciplinary art and research projects that result in immersive experience realizations. Each year, the studio admits at least five teams to the development program on a competitive basis. After the pre-production period is completed, again on a competitive basis, the vnLab Artistic Council selects several projects for realization with full documentation of the process and with an indication of potential technical, artistic and production problems and their possible solutions. The process of creative experimentation is subjected to careful analysis, aiming at the formulation of a new audiovisual language, with particular emphasis on critical reflection on the issues of immersive narratives. The completed works are also subjected to audience perception research using the tools of neuroscience. Based on the results of the research and analysis, there will be recommendations and scientific publications on the medium of contemporary audiovisual messages, expanding the field of human interaction with digital reality.
Management of the studio: Pola Borkiewicz, Jacek Nagłowski
The studio aims to explore the artistic and dramaturgical possibilities offered by recording stereoscopic images in “stop motion” techniques. Activities include a series of innovative experiments aimed at exploring and expanding the cinematic language dedicated to stop motion animation in the context of the third dimension. As part of the four-year research program, an animated (puppet) short film is being produced, as well as a textbook focusing on stereoscopic techniques and systematizing the possibilities and difficulties involved in stereoscopy. The studio holds competitions for both artists interested in taking part in the research project, as well as producers, institutions and universities wishing to carry out S3D projects under the auspices of the studio.
Studio manager: Piotr Matysiak
Perception and Recipient Research Laboratory
The Perception and Audience Research Laboratory conducts research on participants and creators of culture and other creative sector entities. Young viewers and the content created for them (especially animated films) are also an important research group. The subject of the research focuses on the importance of new media both in the processes of creation, promotion and distribution, as well as participation in visual culture in the broadest sense. In addition to research carried out using classical methods, the research process employs an approach that refers to the achievements of neuroscience (including neuroaesthetics), based, among others, on oculographic (eyetracking) or biometric emotion research (face reading and GSR). The employees of the Studio are looking for answers to the questions: how the processes of cultural reception take place and what are the conditions, and what role new technologies play in the creation and management of the cultural sphere.
The Studio also provides research support to the Laboratory’s other studios.
Studio manager: Magdalena Sobocińska
Live Experience Studio
In the Live Experience Studio we carry out research projects: A system for immersive recording of “live VR” events and New Forms of Performing Arts. Their goal is to explore new technologies as a medium – to create an immersive stage experience. By attempting to record musical performances, plays and performances in VR technology in order to find an appropriate way to tell the story of music and peri-theatrical practices, musical and stage experiences will be created that will allow the audience to participate in the event in a complete and attractive way for them.
Studio manager: Dariusz Kaminski
Project – System for immersive recording of “live VR” events.
The aim of the project is to explore new technology as a medium – to create an immersive concert experience. It will involve the creation of “live VR” registrations of musical works in different casts, to see exactly how the positioning of cameras and microphones affects the narrative of the broadcast and how it affects the reception of the work. All of the developed material will be subjected to audience research at screenings specially prepared for the occasion. It is on the basis of this data and on the basis of consultations with specialists that shortcomings will be verified and a “live VR” event recording system will be developed, which will fully create a situation of presence in the concert hall, in the full sense of the word – both aurally and visually.
Project manager: Joanna Dobrzanska
Film Essay Workshop
The film essay is used to treat it as a genre, distinguishing its characteristic features, such as subjectivity, hybridity, combining contradictory orders – theory with practice, knowledge with emotion, fact with fiction. As such, the film essay has its own history, canonical works and a regularly cited set of names – Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard or Orson Welles. Creatively drawing on this tradition, at the Film Essay Studio we wish to treat “essay” much more broadly, in keeping with its root word, which derives from the ever-repeated “attempt” to understand phenomena through the very process of describing them.
In the essay, we do not necessarily see a genre, but an attitude, a cognitive and artistic method that does not lock itself into certain forms and figures, but forces one to invent them again and again, to constantly question one’s own assumptions, position and language. The basic question we will try to answer in the seminars, discussions and film projects carried out at the studio is therefore not what the film essay IS, but what it MAY become in the hands of artists and researchers who decide to use it as a tool for investigating reality through film-essay practice.
What instruments, methods, poetics are available to essayists in today’s media landscape? How can they draw on both the history of cinema and the latest audiovisual forms in non-obvious ways? How can we imagine today writing with images (cinécriture), essaying in audiovisual techniques, sketching not with a pen, but with a camera and editing?
Such assumptions require the creation of production conditions, setting aside space and time that would allow both trial and error, the testing of multiple solutions, the risk of underutilization of realized materials and a radical change of course. The open-ended nature of the research will allow different formal concepts to be tested in the process, by trial and error, without having to equate to a predetermined format (time, genre, issue, etc.). In this sense, not only the final versions, but also all the solutions tested along the way will have workshop and scientific value.
Studio managers: Michał Matuszewski, Kuba Mikurda, Stanislaw Liguzinski
Studio of Interactive Narratives, Digital Scientific Publications and UX
The Laboratory of Interactive Narratives, Digital Scientific Publications and UX is dedicated to the study and development of new forms of narrative emerging from the use of digital interactive technologies in documentary film and related forms such as reportage and film essay.
The area in which we believe the most active experimentation with different types of interaction, activation of the viewer, where photography and film meet with literary forms, auditory experiences, elements of animation and even computer games, is interactive (fictional)documentary forms. We see this field as an area for the emergence of new models of visual narration, as well as a place where film meets other media, primarily photography, which is one of the areas of specialization of the Film School; as well as literature or art exhibition. Hence our need to explore the field of interactive forms, actively participate in it, and take part in its further development.
The Studio is also intended to play a supporting role in the relationship with other vnLab studios, supporting and developing ways of presenting content such as VR, stereoscopic film, film essay, or multi-media scholarly publications, as well as producing distribution versions of the best works being created at the Laboratory.
At the Interactive Narrative Lab, we support the creation of selected narrative interactive forms. Each work is created through a process of both creative and research: the aspiration of the Lab participants is to find an appropriate narrative structure for the story they are telling. To this end, they confront not only questions about who the audiences of the pieces they are creating are, but also about what kind of experience the story they are telling offers, or what kind of narrative structure or technology will achieve the target experience.
An important part of the Studio’s activities is the development of digital scholarly publications, using various media and interactive technologies to present and disseminate research findings. As a result, the Studio is becoming a publisher of works created within the Visual Narrative Laboratory with the intention of creating a new space for making public not only artistic but also scientific works. The digital form of the publication allows the inclusion of fragments of digital and film works in theoretical articles, the inclusion of other audiovisual forms that build the context of scientific expression and, above all, being a scientific form, and contemporary forms of visualization.
Studio Manager: Krzysztof Pijarski
Project manager: Katarzyna Boratyn
Collaboration: Frédéric Dubois, Sandra Gaudenzi