Experiencing madness: research and cinema a / r 2017

Illustration : Rachelle Simonin

(Porteur : INSAS)
Jen Debauche is a DIY filmmaker who has spent the past ten years experimenting with film processing techniques in various labs such as LABO Bxl, l’Abominable (Paris) and MTK (Grenoble). His practice is inherently collaborative, intimately based on sharing experiences and exchanging know-how on cinematic language and media. The author’s research project will focus on madness, both as an intimate and universal experience. He aims to work within a school, where he will propose a functional system for plurality so that students and professors can establish a common exploration of the subject and experiment with relevant ways of giving expression to this human experience. There is a practical and theoretical aspect to this approach, whose ambition is to break down categories and fight prejudice regarding mental illness, in the hopes of opening new possibilities and stretching the limits of material and formal experimentation. This approach also emphasizes the value of allowing people with mental illness to speak for themselves by addressing the difficulty of being heard in society.
Throughout his preliminary research, the author will try to determine some of the formal concerns that correspond to the potential parallels between madness and cinema. He will then give a presentation of the global project to INSAS, with the intention of finding a team of students and professors who are motivated to volunteer. Other encounters will also take place with experts in psychiatry, photography, experimental filmmaking, sound design, writers and philosophers in order to nourish the thought process. One-on-one time with students allows each person to get to the true matter of their process and find the right workflow. In addition to these meetings, workshops can be held at LABO Bxl where students are introduced to analog film processing. Each participant will be able to work autonomously when it comes time to shoot, and receives a certain amount of film stock to use for their work. Editing and post-production, as well as the film screenings, takes place at the school toward the end of the year.
From a methodological standpoint, the process begins with establishing certain technical specifications to guide the research. Several propositions, including the use of a BOLEX camera, involve a separate process for working on sound, which opens the possibility of combining several layers of time. Another suggestion is to introduce the film-creation process into the film’s narrative as a kind of diegesis. This would enable us to show the parallels between the question of psychic normality and the norms of cinema. Plus, by revealing the meta-narrative elements of a film, we can reflect on the medium film itself, addressing the nuances and equations that emerge during a political and philosophical discussion on the experience of madness. This approach might reveal connections between, on the one hand, digital media and analog film (and film processing), and on the other hand, clinical psychiatry (and its chemical treatments) and alternative psychiatry. Thus the research project might also make visible certain contributions to social and ethical progress in a society of information and the senses.

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