Image-making is the quintessential process of production

The Film, Photography and Digital Image Research Group at Birmingham City University brings together academics, artists and thinkers who engage with research and discussion around an expanded notion of the subjects of images through their production in the fields of film, photography and digital image technologies. Our aim is to renew and refresh the study of all these disciplines. We do this by opening up discussions about how images and image-making are at the centre of our understanding of a range of other topics. The Film, Photography and Digital Image Research Group is underpinned by a 5-year strategic partnership with the British Film Institute, which is facilitated by our designated BFI Co-Lead Simone Pyne. Further information about Birmingham City University’s partnership with the BFI can be found on the About Page.


ORGANISATIONS WE WORK WITH

Our areas of interest


Film

Film is one of the multiple forms of image-making that animates our research interests. We are particularly interested in modes of delivery and distribution alongside understanding films as cultural objects of study.

Photography

We consider an expanded view of photography by understanding it as the practice that embodies much of our image-making today.

Digital Image

One of the key interests of our researchers is images. Our aim is to examine the specificity of all contemporary forms of image and image-making.

Technology

Technology informs how many images are made and distributed. We are particularly interested in how technology is transforming our experiences of images.


AI

Although it is decidedly technological, we consider AI to be of specific interest to our research since it connects thought and technology together.

Philosophy

Philosophy is central to our approach simply because its aim is to help shape who we are to become. In the context of our research, philosophy forms our approach rather than informs it.

Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is one of the approaches we take as part of our analysis of images and cultural. We are particularly interested in Lacanian psychoanalysis and its usefulness in understanding everyday phenomena.

Culture

Today, we experience images as an environment. They are located all around us, informing how we interact and experience the world. Considering how images shape culture is an important part of our research.


Festivals

We are interested in exploring how the study of festivals enhances our understanding of exhibition and curatorial practices.

Research-Led Teaching

We are interested in pedagogic practices that use film, photography and the digital image to enhance research-led teaching. 

Knowledge Exchange

We are interested in knowledge exchange, industry or innovation projects across film photography and digital image practices that enhance external partnerships.

Activist Images

Technology informs how many We are interested in community based, third sector or activist organisations that employ film, photography and the digital image as part of their working practices.

We develop a range of resources and activities linked to our research

Publications and Articles


Conferences and Symposium


Research Seminars


Keynote Lectures and Master Classes


Our research focuses on thinking and restating the cultural value of images and image-making.

Intensifying our understanding of theory is at the heart of our approach. Fundamentally, we believe our work begins with helping to locate an understanding of what images are and what they do within the university and school curriculum.

Who we are

Dr JOHN HILLMAN

What unifies John’s interests is the exploration of how theory can enrich and offer new insights to creative practice and lived experience. His approach is distinctive in its foregrounding of theoretical ideas and in how it attempts, not to explain phenomena through theory, but to elucidate theory as it appears within contemporary culture.

Prof XAVIER MENDIK

Xavier is Institutional Lead for the BCU/BFI Partnership and also runs the annual Cine-Excess International Film Festival. He has published extensively on national traditions of cult and horror cinema. Xavier has also completed a number of documentary film productions on cult cinema traditions, including The Quiet Revolution: State, Society and the Canadian Horror Film (2020).

CARLA HAMER

Carla’s research engages with how photographic encounters between photographer and photographed subjects are seen as transparent evidence of ‘reality’ that is then turned into images for the viewer’s aesthetic pleasure. She is interested in the possibility of photography to challenge a representational logic, which normalises relations and discourses of power by assuming the ‘other’ as passive, preceding and definite.

JOANNA FURSMAN

Joanna’s research combines the fields of the photographic image, art practice and pedagogy to examine contemporary appearances of school. She explores how returning to education in a landscape newly shaped by the pandemic looks and feels.

ALAN McQUEEN

Alan has spent the last 35 years working in the film and home entertainment industry. Having gained experience in sales, acquisitions, distribution, production and exhibition. He has worked with Artificial Eye, 20th Century Fox, Tartan, Electric Pictures, Palace Pictures, Pathe, Universal, Verve Pictures, Drakes Avenue, Soda Pictures, Peccadillo Pictures, Artefact Pictures and Optimum Releasing.

Dr ROBIN GRIFFITHS

Robin is an active researcher in the study of US and European film history and industry, with a particular interest in ‘queer’ critical practices and modes of reception. His books include British Queer Cinema (Routledge, 2006) and Queer Cinema in Europe (Intellect, 2008), and he is currently completing a forthcoming monograph that explores a number of new developments within contemporary British queer cinema and visual culture.

JO GANE

Jo’s research is based around photographic archives and history. Central to her practice is the idea of the photograph as a two-dimensional slice of history and its function in relation to the progression of time. She uses historic photographic techniques such as the wet plate collodion process, daguerreotypes, calotypes and photogravure to make contemporary images that disrupt the linear representation of time.

JOHN UMNEY

John is a PhD candidate and lens-based artist. He uses archive and contemporary images to articulate and construct personal narratives as they interfere with current histories. He has been a photographer and, more recently, a moving image-maker for over 40 years. His principle concern is the nature and construct of his “Racial Whiteness” set within a post-colonial capitalist framework. 

Dr CHARLOTTE STEVENS

Charlotte works mainly in television and fandom studies, with a strong interest in archival and historical aspects of audiences. She also co-leads the Game Cultures research cluster. Charlotte has published on fanvids, video game fan histories, screen vampires, and poetic television documentaries on the BBC. She is currently working on two projects: one looking at fanzines, and another about vids made using video game sources.

EUGENIO TRIANA

Eugenio is Course Director of the Film Distribution and Marketing Masters at Birmingham City University. The course is leading in giving students access to industry and has placed graduates at companies such as Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, Hanway, the British Film Institute and others. He was a co-author of The Independent Film Industry: A Handbook Beyond Hollywood in its second edition, looking at the structure and organisation of the independent film industry.

Prof RAVI DEEPRES

Ravi’s work focuses on the intersection of still and moving images. It is driven by themes of identity, historical archives, psychology, social conditioning and scientific exploration. His work deploys strategies such as conceptual documentary, choreographic and kinetically employed aesthetics. 

ANA RUTTA

Ana’s research is concerned with gathering audio and digital imagery and working with them to construct affective atmospheres and spaces. She is particularly interested in the everyday and the commonplace. She is particularly motivated by ideas associated with affect and the embodied encounter.

FRANK MANNION

Frank is a PhD student and his research title is Experiencing Independent Film: The role of new technologies & experiential cinema in the distribution and marketing of independent films. His practice-based PhD uses case studies of 3 foreign language film releases and provides a first-hand account of the challenges of distributing independent films in the pandemic era.

STEVE CHAMBERLAIN

Steven is a PhD student and has produced a feature-length essay film. His research investigates how profilmic entities documented in filming change throughout the filmmaking process. The project maps these changes and captures the reverberation of epistemological and ontological shifts within profimic things. The research culminates in how these changes infuse and influence the voice-over, and how voice-over inscribes filmed entities with a pentimento — overpainting — of changed meaning.

In the Twenty-First Century, the instrumentality of photography has become increasingly prominent.

Many of the photographs we currently make are made for the pleasure of others and not for ourselves