Drift 25, Rm. 204 27 Jul 2019 Organized Session
Tools for Historians of Science 09:00 - 11:45

This session seeks to look at the role of research- and educational films as material documents. The interest of the contributors lies in defining the epistemic significance of science films, that were used for either educational or research purposes within the natural sciences and how they found their way into the archives. Since its foundation, cinematography has been understood as a medium to categorize, systematize and also historicize things. This has been especially true for scientific films, that for example, served to document and analyze human and animal motion or medical practices, such as surgical operations on patients. While some film collection addressed merely researchers, others were produced exclusively for didactic contexts. Almost always when examining the significance of those films, questions of collecting, preserving, archiving and digitizing them come in place. Very often, producers intended to conserve all captured film material for the purpose for later re-editions, but very rarely, this was put into practice. In many cases, films were accompanied by written material which was not always preserved but without which the films are hardly understandable today. More questions evolve when the haptic film material is transferred to digital formats: How to preserve these films for a long period and how to render them accessible for the future? How can these films still be used today? While encompassing films of all regions of the world, the contributors focus on cultural comparisons between East and West Germany before 1989, and Austria after 1918.

New Health Educators: Film as Public Educational Tool Challenging Concepts of Health and Disease (Medical Film Collections in Austria)
09:00 - 09:30
Medical research-, educational-, and public health films have recently been rediscovered by archives and scholars in different fields. The institutional turn to the proper production and distribution of medical films in Austria starts with the founding of the Staatliche Filmhauptstelle in Vienna in 1919 as well as activities of the Uraniafilm department from 1922 on, the Schulkinobund in 1925 and international educational film associations debating on the psychological and didactical value and uses of hygiene, sex education and disease/accident prevention films and their impact on respective target groups in a more structured way. The implementation of film in higher and public education after WWI and the visualisation of scientific and physiological phenomena now visible through mechanically reproduced motion pictures, such as X-ray films, microcinematography or invasive surgical and obstetric training films, helped to promote but also challenged complex fields such as medicine and public health. The delay in and relative sparseness research on medical educational films have a variety of archival and conceptual reasons. Many collections of medical (educational) films in Austria and elsewhere, after their use value expired, were forgotten, disposed of or stored away in hospital vaults without proper archival care. Their separation from accompanying materials (production notes, research reports, teachers’ guides, booklets) further hindered the evaluation and appreciation of these collections’ significance.
Moving Pictures in Class: The Audiovisual Heritage of Gdr Educational Films on Science
09:30 - 10:00
Classroom films have certain aesthetic and didactic characteristics, and they are linked to specific conditions and practices of education within a political system. In the GDR, nearly every child was confronted with a certain audio-visual culture, its specific rhetoric and its visual 'pathos formula' in school transmitted by teaching aids. Educational films were explicitly appreciated as particularly affect-oriented teaching materials. Thus, beyond the mere conveyance of specialized knowledge, the educational films were used to influence attitudes and transmit positions towards aspects of knowledge. While educational films from the former West Germany are stored in he Leibnitz Information Centre for Science and Technology University Library (TIB) and accessible through an online portal, this is not so much the case for the Eastern German educational films. The GDR audiovisual heritage is hold by the Federal Archive, but it is hardly inventoried. Here only The Wende Museum in Los Angeles, US, provides their digitalized collection on GDR films. In this contribution I will examine how historical classroom films visualize and document historically predominant images of science as well as self-interpretations of a society, but also the filmmakers' conceptions of the target audience, the teachers and learners. This is only possible by looking at film collections as a whole, rather than focusing on singular films. The presentation focuses on 16mm educational films on science in the GDR and FRG and questions the purpose of moving pictures as an educational tool as well as a historical resource.
From Analog to Digital: What Happens When a Historic Film Archive is Stored Electronically?
10:15 - 10:45
Recently, several projects have been dedicated to transferring film collections into the digital world and hence, some significant online-databases such as Europeana.eu have been created. However, it has hardly been examined from an epistemological point of view what problems and questions evolve when trying to (re-)contextualize film collections in online-databases and what happens to all the data connected to the films. Based on the history of institute for the scientific film (IWF) I will show some of the questions, problems and needs of a film archive being digitized. Founded in 1956 as a successor of the Reich Institute for Film and Images in Science and the Classroom (RWU), the IWF provided a broad range of films dedicated for the use of researchers and scholars. One of the most significant collections was the Encyclopaedia Cinematographica (EC) which was seen to be the leading part of a world archive for all dynamic processes: humans, animals, plants and machines alike. Leading ethologists and biologists like Konrad Lorenz and Otto Koenig were involved in the institute’s film projects. With the headquarter in Göttingen (Germany), the IWF sought to expand into a world wide network of scientific films. After the institute closed its doors forever in 2010, questions of digitalization and long-term-archiving of the films became relevant and are even more so discussed today. This contribution to the panel connects the spheres of media history and the history of science and asks for the specific role of film as historic and material source.
Behavior (Un)Archived: Research Films in East German Bioacoustics
10:45 - 11:15
This case study examines the intersections of research film and historical concepts of behavior. Based on the example of early East German bioacoustics it combines approaches from media philosophy and the history of science to discuss the relevance of film documents for an historical reconstruction of research practices, epistemic structures and political programs. When East German biologist Guenter Tembrock (1918–2011) entered the field of behavioral studies in 1948, research on the biological conditions of human behavior was a contested field. In the East as well as in the West, political visions for post-war societies centered around social vs. biological concepts of human behavior. Based on the observation of domesticated foxes in his modest lab in East-Berlin between 1948 and 1968, Tembrock developed a new approach to behavioral studies. In contrast to his predecessors he didn’t merely observe individual animals. Rather he was interested in communication through movement and, particularly, sounds. This formed the core of an ecology of reciprocal resonances. Surprisingly his research methods didn’t only include tape recordings. From 1951 on 16 mm-film recordings played a central role in his studies of bio-acoustic behavior. But other than the sound recordings, only little was done to preserve them until today. This paper seeks to present the archival situation of GDR-research films today. Furthermore it will discuss the historiographic relevance of research films for a reconstruction of the epistemology as well as the aisthesis of historical research settings.
Commentary: Science on the Film Strip: Collecting, Preserving, and Archiving Research and Educational Films
11:15 - 11:45

Université Libre de Bruxelles, Universität Wien, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Digital History
Bibliothek für Bildungsgeschichtliche Forschung (BBF) im Deutschen Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung (DIPF)
Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Musicology and Media Studies at the Humboldt University, Berlin
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Director, Historische Arbeitsstelle, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany
Bauhaus-Universität Weimar
PhD Candidate, UCLA
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Munich


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