photo © Blackmail (1929)
Research seminars as a form of collective knowledge sharing and production has always been an integrative part of Laboratory’s activities since providing a regular forum for post-Soviet researchers and students to present their work in a collaborative environment and receive immediate feedback is seen of crucial importance. Research seminars organized by Laboratory often result in collective monographs and series of publications that also helps to promote visual and cultural studies in the region.
“Historizing Alfred Hitchcock” was a part of a series of seminars devoted to the interpretation of visual texts, and aim at analyzing different interpretative models proposed for Hitchcock’s films in different theoretical contexts (psychoanalysis, feminist theory, visual studies, semiotics, and others).
2000 (autumn semester)
The seminar was devoted to the analysis of theories of authorship as applied to film analysis and other visual texts that became extremely popular among philosophers and theorists of cinema and literature in 1950-1960s. Interpreting film director as an Author of a literary text implicitly presupposed upgrading symbolical status of cinematograph in the hierarchy of high art, and the attempt to unravel the visual signature (individual style) of the Author in a filmic text made researching film aesthetic more intriguing.
Bi-Textuality and cinema
2000 (spring semester)
Heterogenous text vs heterosexual object became the main collision of this seminar. “Bi-” was considered as a possibility of co-existence of the two poles of sexuality and desire in one text, as a possibility of double interpretation of a text, and the drama of a broken identity of a subject that no longer had (on no longer knew) one and only identity. At the same time the concept of bi-textuality was employed to remind of a repressed text or of something that was repressed in different modes of representation - whether visual or textual. The seminar also considered the case of cinema language that could become an instrument of avoiding censorship, taboo, or social norms in the sphere of polyvalent sexuality. This series of seminars resulted in a collective volume “Bi-Textuality and Cinema” (ed. Almira Ousmanova, Minsk: Propilei 2003).
Vision and Visuality in European Philosophy
This series of seminars was designed as a review of the Western philosophical tradition through the conceptual lens of vision and visuality. Thus, the seminars participants analysed the ways of interpreting the key concepts and categories of visuality in key texts by “the founders of discourse”; explicated a categorial invariant and historical variations of a descriptive language used for communicating a visible world and transcendental sphere, as well as the very parameters of vision”; explicated key ideas and metaconcepts (eidos, the image of a Platonian cave, etc) as a result and at the same time a structuring factor of different epochs mentality.
Visual (as) Violence
The central topic of these seminars became violence in visual representations considered in the context of marxist studies, feminist theories, and psychoanalysis. Visual violence was interpreted not only as showing the scene of violence on a screen but first and foremost as an inventory of techniques of coercion (for looking) and repression (of a gaze) that were employed in every art genre but more common for a “cinematographic apparatus”. This series of seminars resulted in a collective volume “Visual (as) violence” (ed. by A.Ousmanova).
Visual Antropology of Soviet Culture
The main aim of this seminar was to research the everyday culture of Homo Soveticus and sociocultural mechanisms of construing (individual) memory through visual media. It was presupposed that this reconstruction of history can be realized through creating a “situation of speech” of a certain individual (connected with the Big History by his own individual biography) as well as through exploring its visible representatives – films, television, photographies, posters, and other artefacts. As a result, the focus of the participants’ attention were the structures of the Imaginary, mnemotechniques, based on employing visual materials, and – the last but not the least – the very visual culture of the Soviet era in its documents and monuments.
The Observer. A Seminar On Cultural Analytics
This series of public lectures and seminars focused on the conceptual and methodological issues in the sphere of cultural analytics. The topics and research objects that were elaborated through these seminars included (but were not limited to) medialandscape, animation cinema, maps and/as ideology, manipulation in/through photography, and others.
Contemporary Interpretations and Receptions of Roland Barthes Ideas in Eastern Europe
This seminar was a part of a broader series of events celebrating Roland Bartes’ 100th anniversary. This particular event took place in Minsk and aimed at answering the following questions: What concepts of Roland Barthes could be seen as the most heuristic and useful for research work, art practices, and teaching? What are the traces of his ideas in artistic, philosophical, literary, architectural circles? How is perceived the break between structuralist and poststructuralist approaches in our own intellectual history? In what way the “negative semiology” of Barthes, aiming at demystification of ideological discourses, is useful for understanding of contemporary culture? And what instruments of Barthes’ analysis appear the most actual in the Other Time – in the epoch of digital textuality and new tecnhology?.