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Friday, March 13 • 10:20am - 11:10am
How to Save the Environment with ‘Less’. Discourses on Colour Film Preservation and Recycling in the Socialist Planned Economy.

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When we talk about environmental problems such as global warming, air pollution and climate change, we address aspects of societies which put natural resources at risk of being permanently affected in negative ways. These stress factors are deeply rooted in (Western) cultures’ approaches to consumption in general and to consumer goods in particular. This second category includes colour film technologies, too. Therefore, it is the right time for questions about the manifold interrelationships between raw film production and environmental concerns in specific global and local contexts. By means of a discourse analytical approach, this paper focuses on selected ecological aspects of film stock manufacturing in East Germany during the growing spread of colour film processes in the second half of the twentieth century.
As homeland of Agfacolor and Orwocolor, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was part of the global raw film community for more than forty years. In this period, the country faced an ongoing increase of waste products from chemical industries. Around the same time, however, more and more initiatives for long-term solutions in film archiving and preservation created awareness of material decay and technological obsolescence. Within this ambivalent context, discourses on scarcity of resources, durability of colour films and recycling of silver components made their way into technical journals such as Bild und Ton. With its unique role as one of GDR’s official organs for discussing topical technological developments, Bild und Ton acted as a mirror of hegemonic idea(l)s of the country’s socialist planned economy. As such, the journal bears witness to the postponed discussion of environmental issues compared to Western publications. This raises questions about how this delay came about and what the actual situation was like for the population: What did it mean for civil society and industry to tackle environmental issues with less monetary and material resources, less possibilities of influencing production quality and fewer opportunities for political intervention?

avatar for Josephine Diecke

Josephine Diecke

PhD Student, SNSF Project Filmcolors. Technologies, Cultures, Institutions
Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies and French Philology at the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (2013). International Master of Arts in Audiovisual and Cinema Studies at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main (2016) with a master thesis on the theoretical, practical... Read More →

Friday March 13, 2020 10:20am - 11:10am GMT
NFT3/ BFI Southbank

Attendees (6)