Animated Directories

ARG / Schellow Alexander

The “Animated Directories” project is a proposal by Alexander Schellow—animated filmmaker whose films are based on reconstructed mnemonic devices that bring together artistic and scientific research—and by the research group ARG (Animation Research Group), which consists of students, doctorates and professors from erg (école de recherche graphique) in Brussels. This collective grew out of a common interest for the notion of “expanded animation”, which groups together heterogeneous artistic practices, and strives to redefine the medium ‘animation’. The group recently oriented its research on the ‘document’ and seeks to put creative structures in place that reveal the inherent potential of an archive once it is activated by its users. In this research, animation is not only a mode of perception for moving pictures, but also a methodology; a shift which allows for potential tensions to be addressed in a productive manner. The project takes the Mundaneum—a visionary project by Paul Otlet (1866-1944) often referred to as “the paper internet”—as a starting point. The research consists in revisiting the archive’s collections in the hopes of creating and nourishing a digital distribution platform where documents can be consulted and activated by the visitor. The content could thus be evolutive, free from imposed hierarchies and able to be layered all while enabling content development and possible updates. The idea is to harness a kind of collective, encyclopedic knowledge with the goal of sharing it, while also attempting to rid it of the power relations and economic domination that currently govern search engines and exchanges on the internet. With this in mind, it is crucial to see the role of animation as a potential mobilizing force for sharing different kinds of content (text, visuals, sound, etc.). Part of the research will take place directly within the collections of the Mundaneum in Mons, in order to work first-hand with primary resources and topics that will be foundations for the digital platform. This process will include regular moments for sharing and feedback to re-articulate the research subject and communicate about how things are progressing for the different institutional partners. Workshop periods are also planned at the art school, and students will be invited to participate. The online platform Oral site, which already exists, enables experimentation with different kinds of narration thanks to “Olga” software, which was coded and customized by a team of programmers, designers, sound designers and writers connected with Sarma, Constant and OSP. There will also be bridges made to exhibition and research spaces like ISELP in Brussels and KIASMA in Paris. By maintaining dialogue with the GIRCAM research group at UCL, which studies cultural and media practices at the intersection of Cultural Studies and Information Sciences and Communications, this work could potentially take on an academic aspect.