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Thinking in Moving Pictures

German Research Foundation Funds Project at Freie Universität Berlin and Filmuniversität Babelsberg

№ 429/2014 from Dec 12, 2014

Movies, TV news, Youtube - audiovisual images are everywhere. A new research center for advanced studies at Freie Universität Berlin investigates the impact these images have on how people perceive the world around them. Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Hermann Kappelhoff at the Film Studies division of the Institute of Theater Studies, Freie Universität, are looking into the thesis that media are not merely the means for communicating facts, but rather technical enhancements of perception. They change the conditions of understanding, judging, and imagining. From this perspective the analysis of filmic images determines forms of thought and feeling and opens up a new perspective on the historical, cultural, and political dimensions of audiovisual media. The project is initially being financed as one of five nationwide newly approved research groups of the German Research Foundation (DFG) through 2019, as the Senate of the DFG announced in Bonn.

Regardless of whether it is a historical film, the evening news, or a shaky YouTube video from a crisis area – cinematic images are not only about historically, culturally, or politically relevant issues. Rather, the images are themselves part of the public discourse in which objects of shared memory as well as attitudes to issues of culture, politics, and community are continuously modulated. It is important to address not only the depicted images, but also the aesthetic and poetic forms they utilize. How can filmic images be analyzed as discourse, or assessed and classified in discourses, when they are not seen as representations, but rather as technical modeling of perception? To what extent does the academic view of the historical, cultural, and political dimensions of film change, if they are not considered as a representative document of public discourse, but rather as the medium of an independent discourse conducted in images and sounds? The members of the research center that is being set up at Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with Filmuniversität Babelsberg aim to address these issues and develop a methodology for the analysis of filmic discourses. The project is being led by Prof. Dr. Hermann Kappelhoff (Freie Universität Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Michael Wedel (Filmuniversität Babelsberg).

The DFG Humanities Centres for Advanced Studies are a special type of funding instrument specifically tailored to the working methods used in these particular fields. They are funded for an initial period of four years. They should include researchers from more than one university and address transdisciplinary topics.

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Hermann Kappelhoff, Film Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Te.: +49 30 838-50378, Email: