PhD researcher on the topic of Transforming Access to Audio-visual Archives

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 30 Apr 2021

Are you looking for a challenging position in a dynamic setting? The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)  currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the SNSF project Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to audio-visual archives. The project team at ASCA will be led by principal investigator Prof. Giovanna Fossati. The Research School is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research .

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates, and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.

What are you going to do?

You will contribute to a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, ‘Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to audio-visual archives’ and led by École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which addresses and aims to resolve the gap between public access to digital audio-visual archives and the embodied, participatory world of museum experiences. The project offers the opportunity to join an international team, consisting of audio-visual heritage specialists at UvA and collection and digital presentation experts at Eye Filmmuseum, led by Prof. Giovanna Fossati (ASCA and Faculty of Humanities, UvA), and to work with international partners in Lausanne and Zurich.

Bridging academic, archival, and museum perspectives, the project specifically aims to resolve contemporary challenges of public access to audio-visual archives through computational analysis of audio-visual collections and data visualization. The highly interdisciplinary project combines the expertise of four leading academic partners in the fields of machine learning, visual analytics, digital museology, and film archiving. The project is a collaboration between the Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+), EPFL; Visual intelligence for Transportation Laboratory (VITA) EPFL; Visualization and MultiMedia Laboratory (VMML), University of Zürich and; the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The project draws on leading digital audio-visual archives including: Radio Télévision Suisse, the UNESCO Memory of the World listed Montreux Jazz Festival archive, and the Eye Filmmuseum. Responding to the demand of accessing these vast collections from various user groups and addressing a need for developing access and presentation formats that are not limited by copyright restrictions, the project develops gallery-based, in situ installations for museum settings. To this end, the project: carries out computational visual analysis so as to augment conventional audio-visual archival metadata with richer semantic meaning; designs a narrative visualization framework, combining spatio-temporal, social, aesthetic and affective semantics to pioneer new audio-visual storytelling formats; and develops platforms for the navigation, exploration and creative reorganization of moving images through immersive and interactive systems, for broad publics in museums.

Working with the Eye Filmmuseum's unique Mutoscope & Biograph collection  (1897-1902), you and the team will develop a presentation of the collection for the new 360-degree 3D Narrative Visualization Engine, developed by eM +. The research will focus on developing ways of exploring the collection dynamically based on spatial, temporal, material and aesthetic features within the Visualization Engine’s scalable and participatory engagement format, while aiming to situate audiences and their experiences at the centre of knowledge production and to stimulate innovation in archival access. Read more about the project Narratives from the long tail .

Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • completion and submission of at least one article and/or videographic or audio-visual scholarly work for an international, peer-reviewed journal within the period of appointment;
  • carrying out archival research on the Eye Filmmuseum’s Mutoscope & Biograph collection and related collection data;
  • participation in the ASCA and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • teaching courses at BA-level or other types of activities in the second and third year of the appointment (0,2 FTE per year).

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