Media Theory and Film Studies

Guy Sherwin, Optical Sound, 2007, frame enlargement. Photo: By courtesy of Guy Sherwin.

As a relatively young academic discipline, media theory has not yet developed any consensus as to its definition or the full scope of its enquiry. Because this field of study is so broad and developments in the media sector so dynamic, it is important that media studies at an arts university should clearly define the directions and contents of its research and teaching. The Chair of Film and Media Theory (Prof. Dr. Gabriele Jutz) focuses on the connection between art and the moving image. Central to this is the artistic use of audiovisual media, as is the case, for example, of experimental cinema, which ranges from the historical film avant-garde to expanded cinema and projection performances to contemporary “neo-analog” film practices. As well, sound studies, a largely neglected field of ​​film and media theory, are also an important field of inquiry.

The analysis of experimental films requires an awareness of the differences between media, something that is potentially lost as almost all of our media is being converted into digital data. The focus therefore is on an analytical approach that interlaces questions of aesthetics, materiality and context. In order to comprehensively understand both historical and contemporary artistic media practices, it is necessary to take account of innovative approaches to the history of media and technology in conjunction with their social, institutional and economic aspects.

Recently, cooperation with the Austrian Film Museum has been established. This provides selected collections – photos, posters, documents as well as film and cinema equipment – for university research. The aim of this collaboration is to work on unresearched collections and to carry out substantial research work in the contexts of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral theses.