Workshop 1 | Screenwriting
by May Kassem
The workshop is structured around written exercises, based on objects, text, poetry, music, photographs, and paintings which open up visual and emotional memory and stimulate the imagination. The exercises and lectures were aimed at developing the various structural tools which are needed in order to write stimulating, captivating, and powerful stories.
Workshop 2 | What is sound and how does it define space?
by Ziad Moukarzel
The workshop addresses the above question by tackling synthesis and spatial definition through the prism of sound. What is a sound source and how does it travel? How to sample and synthesize sound? What is spatial hearing and how do we translate it in recording? Why and how do sounds constantly change around us? How do we draw a space with our ears, and what draws sounds to our ears? How does recording change these experiences?
By understanding the spatial dimensions of sonicity, the creation of “sound fields”, and capturing these qualities in sound, we grappled with the potentialities of sound and sonic production as they pertain to the conception of space.
Workshop 3 | Can the House Speak?
by Mahmoud Khaled
Departing from “the house” as a marker of history(-ies), this workshop addressed questions around archive, storytelling, and projections: Can a house with a collection of spaces and objects tell us about unknown histories and personas? Can objects reveal the secrets and desires of their owners and makers?How can we use the house as a starting point for our own narratives and imaginations? What do we remove from the house before we allow it to speak? When does a house become an archive?
Workshop 4 | Necro-images, necro-screens: Technology as a “genre”
by Alaa Mansour
This workshop is dedicated to exploring perceptive technology both as a device and a “genre”. It examines specific case studies on how modes of speculation and simulation allow colonial and capitalist epistemologies to conjure the present and preempt the future.
Since the passage from the mechanical to the artificial, the public had been plugged (in)to a new venerated materialism that is virtuality — a predicative and pictorial space of power, in which consciousness hovers in deep states of deep fakes while interacting abjectly with necro-images through necro-screens. Here, vision machines acted as semiotic operators, perpetuating and casting a continuum of epistemic violence atomized into fluxes of visual and textual artifacts.
By delving into the archeology of the medium and the media, this workshop is an introduction into disruptive strategies and critical tools that stimulate a counter-conduct and subvert the eye/machine into the making of a new montage of History.
Workshop 5 | Transduction - the Spin
by Tarek Atoui
This course focuses on sound and matter. Sound not conducted through air, but inside solids, liquids, and materials that have their own conductivity and unique sonic properties. How to listen to materials? How to extract sound from them? How to compose out of this experimentation?
Starting with a theoretical approach that takes examples from Atoui‘s previous works, the second part of this course studies the case of a hands-on situation using “The Spin”, one of Atoui‘s instruments made out of ceramics.
Workshop 6 | THE CRITICAL FUNCTION (open to the public)
by Hicham Awad
This workshop takes its name from an essay by French film critic Serge Daney, originally published in four parts in the pages of Cahiers du Cinéma between September 1973 and November 1974. The essay opened with a simple but fundamental question: “how do we ‘intervene’ in cinema?”.
Daney lays out a series of questions that film criticism is to work through to exit the impasse created by two dueling tendencies: one that considers aesthetic criteria as “equal (analogous or equivalent) to political criteria” and another that considers aesthetic criteria as “automatically flowing” from political criteria.
While Daney’s essay isn’t a guide or manual for writing politically about moving images, it offers, nonetheless, provocations that destabilize the foundations of much of film criticism popular both at the time of the essay’s publication and today. Daney cautions against the valorization of “edifying (in a religious sense)” political cinema and, instead, calls for a critical engagement with the ways in which ideology and pleasure, ambiguity and knowledge, and subjective and objective (class) interests, produce and are produced by all films. Reminding us that “every class possesses its own style of ideological struggle… its (positive) ideas,” he writes: “Positivity is not the exception, but the rule. All films are militant films.”
What would it entail to take Daney’s maxim (“All films are militant films”) seriously? Rather than only looking at edifying writing about edifying cinema, which, especially today, too often traffics in truistic reassurances of ’good politics’, the workshop also contended with conservative and reactionary filmic and film-critical work, not least because, pace Daney, any and every film is militant is positive “that is to say effective, appropriable, usable.”
by Marwa Arsanios
This workshop revolves around different understandings of practice and poses the question of form in regards to certain research and thought processes. How can a complex practice create singular and unexpected forms? What methods, systems, experiments, and tools are put to work?
Departing from texts by authors such as Rosalind Krauss, Marina Vishmidt, Sven Lütticken, Irit Rogoff, Walid Sadek, Cameron Rowland, Hannah Black and other artists’ writings, as well as concrete examples of so-called critical practices, the aim is to delve into the material, build a discussion around it, and attempt to locate the urgency of each of the examined practices.
by Haig Aivazian
This workshop is framed within a larger scope of what it means to be involved in artistic research in a context like the one we live in.
Can we think of modalities of “making” that might inhabit, on one hand, the welling of an unprecedented revolutionary horizon in Lebanon since 2019 and, on the other, the near total collapse of the economic and social orders, along with the various depressions, depletions and deflations those collapses engender?
What kinds of affect, or fields of potential, do practices, which we come to call research-based, investigative, forensic… put into motion when they unearth infrastructures of violence and dispossession, or render visible the machinations of our degradation and humiliation?
Can we think of cultural practices that are not solely predicated on suspicion and that instead aim to, in Eve Sedgwick’s words, “assemble and confer plenitude,” and extract “sustenance from the objects of a culture…whose avowed desire has often been not to sustain [us]”?
In other words, given our limited resources (attention, energy, focus, enthusiasm…) can we collectively think of praxes, using structures and machinations at our disposal in the fields of art and culture, that can open emancipatory potentials for us and those around us, maintaining a will to fight all while focusing on harnessing inspiration, joy, love, and other forms of sustenance?
May Kassem is a filmmaker, screenwriter, radio producer, composer, and teacher. Her work includes the short documentary Qui Ecrira l’Histoire (1996) about the struggle of undocumented immigrants in Paris. Another film featuring migrant workers is her docu-fiction work Joker (1998), depicting Beirut as it was being reconstructed in 1998. In 2016, she made a short video about the social and political struggle in Beirut, sparked by the garbage crisis, and entitled Reverse-Shot: Diary of a Struggle (2016). In that same year, she completed the feature documentary Nourhane, a Child’s Dream, based on the life of Nourhane, an actress and singer who is also the artist’s grandmother. Kassem made a feature film about the struggle to preserve the public beach in Beirut, titled Free Waves (2017). More recent works include her first feature fiction film in which she acts as well Winter Ballad (2019) and a 6-hour documentary essay "On ne cache pas le soleil avec un doigt !".
Ziad Moukarzel is a music producer, lecturer, and studio engineer. In his work, he strives to create a sense of acoustic space through his sound work with softwares and synthesizers. An admirer of aural environments and room tones, he translates what he hears in the real world to the analog and virtual realm, and creates otherworldly atmospheres that do not pertain to physical space. He is also a managing partner at Woodwork Sound Studio, a live electronic music artist and a DJ. His solo and collaborative work has been featured abroad. Moukarzel teaches at the University of Balamand as a Sound Instructor for the first and second year cinema students. He is also one of the co-founders of the Beirut Synthesizer Center.
Mahmoud Khaled is a visual artist with a fine arts background. He explores identity and intimate dynamics while questioning the larger structures that produce them. Moving between the scale of the minute and a more immersive totality, his work takes on failure, austere violence, and the aesthetics of an institutional heritage. Engaging with the burden of nostalgia and state-sanctioned processes of constructing collective memory, Khaled reproduces artifacts of dead ideologies and thinks of those who were crushed in the process of their erection. And in attempts of projection, he thinks of canonic commemoration and the marginalized bodies it leaves behind, so he reformulates and records their presence through absence. For Khaled, queer identity is explored through the objects that inform it and an amassed knowledge: articles of desire, spatial gestures, and simulated conversations. His work complicates and appropriates form to offer virtual proposals that rethink justice and imagine possibilities for a redemptive future.
Alaa Mansour is an artist, filmmaker, and archivist based between Marseille and Beirut. Her work focuses on the history of violence and the power of images in the age of necro politics. Using a multidisciplinary approach, she explores concepts of the sacred and the sublime and their potential of horror. She graduated from Université Paris 8 with a Masters in Arts & Creation – Filmmaking (2013) and was assistant to the filmmaker Jocelyne Saab for several years. Her debut documentary film Aïnata (2018), shot in the south of Lebanon, is a seminal work embodying her interest in archives. She is currently head of visual research for Bidayat, an intellectual and cultural quarterly magazine published in Beirut.
Tarek Atoui is a contemporary artist and composer who is currently living in Paris. Based on research in music history and traditional music practices, his work reflects the notion of instrument, and how it interacts with listening, composing and performing.
Hicham Awad is a writer and editor living in New York. He holds an MA in Film and Visual Studies from Harvard University and teaches courses in film studies at The Cooper Union.
Marwa Arsanios is an artist, filmmaker, and researcher who reconsiders mid-twentieth-century politics from a contemporary perspective, with a particular focus on gender relations, spatial practices, and land struggles.
Haig Aivazian is an artist living in Beirut. Working across a range of media and modes of address, he delves into the ways in which power embeds, affects and moves people, objects, animals, landscape and architecture. Between 2020-2022, Aivazian was Artistic Director of the Beirut Art Center where he was founding editor of thederivative.org