Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Association of Moving Image Archivists Conference in St. Louis

I'm baaaaack! Did you miss me?!

I was in St. Louis last week/weekend for the AMIA conference where I met the rockstars of the archival world, learned a lot and had a really good time.

First, let me say that St. Louis is awesome. It's very clean and pretty, there is a nice mix of the modern and historical, pretty architecture, a river running through downtown and cool, interesting places to visit. Candace, my friend and classmate, is from STL and her incredibly sweet family hosted us for dinner and a party at their house. Such nice people! It is also home to the Tivoli Theatre and City Museum (!!) which I will talk about later. Great city. However, it felt completely desolate! I'm sure it's just because it's spread out and made up of suburbs, or maybe it's just that I'm used to New York now, but it felt completely empty. I kept thinking that more people needed to go there and experience this city.

Okay, back to the conference. We kicked things off on Wednesday with Trivia Night! Our team (made up of the 7 students in my NYU MIAP class) wore matching shirts, complete with a sweet logo designed by Candace and our favorite film gauge (70!) on the back. Nerds! Oh, it gets better. Our team cheer was the THX logo sound (you know the one) and our name was the DubCore All-Stars. We ruled. And even though we lost (to a bunch of PhDs and such), we did take home the team spirit award! We also got all the popcorn, drinks, rice crispie treats and candy we wanted. Double win.
The sessions, panels and committee meetings we attended were fascinating and informative. My favorites were:
A-V Preservation Exchanges: New York, Accra, and Buenos Aires

Dan Streible - NYU/MIAP
Mona Jimenez - NYU/MIAP

Mona Jimenez - NYU/MIAP
Paula FĂ©lix-Didier - Museo del Cine
Natalia Fidelholtz - Cinema Tropical
Ishumael Zinyengere - International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Jennifer Blaylock - NYU/MIAP

Teams of archivists discuss two initiatives of the Audio-Visual Preservation Exchange begun by Mona Jimenez (NYU-MIAP). How can established institutions partner with international moving image archives lacking in resources, to the benefit of all? Participants in recent collaborations among archivists at U.S. universities, the Museo del Cine in Buenos Aires, and cultural organizations in Accra will speak about their experiences during week-long training events in Argentina and Ghana. Sponsored by the International Outreach Committee.

After These Messages: Archives and the Fate of Advertisements

Skip Elsheimer - AV Geeks

Devin Orgeron - North Carolina State University
Mike Mashon - Library of Congress
Rick Prelinger - Prelinger Archives

What, besides selling us loads of stuff, do commercials do? How do we define them? What role can/should archives play in shaping our relationship to this material? As archives assess their growing collections and shrinking resources, "commercials" -- broadly defined -- seem especially vulnerable. This panel raises questions about our relationship to these images and about how best to mange them.

The Venue Accreditation Scheme: A New Approach to Quality Assurance in the Theatrical Presentation of Archival Moving Images

Leo Enticknap - University of Leeds
Brian Guckian - Projected Image

Brian Guckian - Projected Image
Paul Rayton - American Cinematheque / Egyptian Theatre
Katie Trainor - Museum of Modern Art
Speaker from Janus Films

This session reports on progress made on the development of the proposed AMIA Venue Accreditation (formerly Approval) Scheme, initially proposed at last year's conference. The Scheme provides assurance to archives lending prints and digital material to exhibition venues as to the ability of such venues to handle the materials without damage and to present them to adequate technical standards. In doing so, the scheme aims to promote technical standards of theatrical access to archival material that reflect the integrity of the original and its preservation. The Speakers will report on the outcome of the work, including consultations with AMIA Members, and will propose the final details of the scheme and a road map for its implementation

I also loved seeing these random film prints, including 70mm (shout out) Star Wars footage during a panel on identifying and dating film without soundtrack or accompanying information. The digital restoration demonstration and vendor booths were really cool too, especially Kodak.
For me, the highlight of the conference itself was the Archival Screening Night at the Tivoli Theatre. We watched archival prints that had been saved by AMIA attendees in the last year. They included awesome old commercials, civil rights footage, a Julia Child piece, an Alice in Wonderland themed anti-drug PSA from the 70s and other lovely, weird, important footage that someone thinks is worth not losing. It was inspiring and reminded me why I'm doing this with my life.
Outside of the conference we had a great time experiencing STL. We took walks in lovely parks and all around the arch which is right outside the hotel we stayed in. We visited the St. Louis City Museum, now officially my favorite place in the whole world. It's like a giant piece of art that you can climb on... like if Michel Gondry and Tim Burton built a playground for grownups. (Pictures soon!) After 11pm they give you flashlights and turn off the lights, opening the building to anyone who wants to get drunk on cheap drinks at the bar and then crawl through caves, go down 10 story twisty slides, play in a giant ball pit and explore what is basically a giant fun house. I want to go back!
My roommate was Ashley. She loves 40s studio films and knows everything there is to know about the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Judy Garland. She's also into sci-fi stuff, could probably be a super model and is really cool. We hosted after hours dance parties and karaoke in our room.

If you're interested, THIS article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is nice and may or may not have made me a little emotional.

1 comment:

  1. StL is a great city! I lived there for a year 2001-2002. I used to work for a company that worked at the Rams/Blues/Cards games so I got to be downtown a lot. Great area around Washington Univ.