Video Essay. Techniques and Methods.

A working conference at Paxmontana, Flüeli-Ranft, Switzerland, 4.–8. December 2022

What do we do, when we make video essay? What are the different approaches, methods, working schemes, parameters in videographic practice? These were the questions this conference not only wanted to discuss but also explore practically, by inviting the participants not only to present and talk about their practice but also engage during the conference in different forms of co-creating videographic work.

Apart from actually making video essays on location (Ian Garwood even managed to get us all involved in a “TV Dictionary” entry), what differentiated this conference from other video essay events was the fact that some of the participants came from the art and performance world rather than the video essay community. This helped us see and discuss our own ideas and practices from sometimes unexpected perspectives.

Photos by Oswald Iten and Johannes Binotto

Based on the works presented upfront online and on the spot, “embodiment” emerged as one of the central themes. From actual performances by artists like Ben Spatz or Alice Lenay through a virtual reality project by Charlie Shackleton up to manual re-enactment experiments of sound mixing by Cormac Donnelly. Topics ranged from female migrant workers in the Netherlands to the ethics of AI art generators.

Since we tried to keep the presentation and collaboration formats as open as possible, participants were able to react to previous discussions much more freely than in predetermined talks. Thereby, we discovered that the most stimulating sessions were based on works in progress presented with very specific questions posed by the authors themselves.

Photos by Chloé Galibert-Laîné

As this conference on practice was deliberately designed to be an in-person meeting, leisurely walks through the ever-changing landscape (covered in mist, sunshine, or snow by turns) as well as ample coffee breaks provided us with opportunities for all those spontaneous conversations that would not have been possible in an online group meeting.

photos by Oswald Iten and Chloé Galibert-Laîné

Thanks to our hosts at Paxmontana, we also got hooked on a marvelous butter machine and enjoyed Grittibänze on St. Nicholas’ Day.

Photos by Cormac Donnelly and Charlie Shackleton