"Darkness as material" is a doctoral research project by Mia Engberg. Mia is a doctoral candidate in Film and Media.
The project examines darkness and its potential as an affective material in cinematic expression. In this context, “darkness” refers to an imaginative space beyond the image; a place within the spectator, within the film maker or within the film itself where attention is expanded and the possibilities of the narrative seem limitless. The project endeavors to search for the essence of the cinematic experience, to encounter the place which French author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras describes as “the dark room where we are deaf and blind and passion is possible”.
Aim and research questions
The aim of the research project is to generate alternative, experimental modes and methods for both making and experiencing cinema; to create and propose new and sustainable processes to both the institution and the art of cinema; to explore film-making practices that are non-hierarchical, purposefully transgressive and sustainable for humans and for the planet. Research questions include:
1) Is it possible to make a film that is not built on the objectification of the other? 2) If film making could generate an aesthetic that dismantled the subject/object dichotomy, what would that film look/sound/feel like?
3) What are possible methods for creating film narratives that move the cinematic experience from the flat screen into the interior darkness of the spectator? The work is inspired by feminist film theory, Buddhist thought, the aesthetics of minimalism, the attitude of punk-rock-do-it-yourself ideology.
Research implementation and anticipated impact
The project will be conducted in several stages, each focused on a different ‘material’ of darkness:
a) The darkness in the cinema where the film is projected.
b) The darkness within the spectator where the film is received.
c) The universal darkness where ideas are born and everything is possible.
The project will explore forms of cinematic storytelling in which the image is given the opportunity to materialize beyond the square on the screen. How does the cinematic experience manifest in the context of sonification, meditation or abstract forms of visualization?
Links to your research
Darkness as Material is the third and final part of a trilogy that began with "Aesthetics of Absence" (Belleville Baby 2013) and "The Visual Silence" (Lucky One 2019).